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The Conflict Dividend: Access and (dis) Empowerment

Presentation Description

Framed within the political economy of aid, where many humanitarian actors are ideologically disposed to expansion and thus competition for resources, the presentation will examine the contestation of localisation in Myanmar and Somalia. This presentation will introduce the concept of the conflict dividend, as a central factor influencing subnational levels of localisation that also demonstrates the incongruency of international actors claimed commitments to localisation. The conflict dividend refers to when local humanitarian actors access to areas that are inaccessible to international actors provides leverage for advancing the localisation agenda. The presentation will demonstrate that although the conflict dividend can empower local actors, it also reinforces structural inequities in the humanitarian system. Myanmar and Somalia provide illuminating examples of the conflict dividend, where localisation is most advanced in subnational areas with the most restricted access, yet severely lacking in areas where international humanitarian actors have reliable access and often then opt for direct implementation. The analysis will demonstrate how local humanitarian actors leverage the conflict dividend for localisation advocacy, but then face persistent barriers to more systemic change. The result can then be the further entrenchment of aid system inequities. This occurs when international actors claim to be achieving localisation commitments through funding local partners in inaccessible areas, which alleviates pressure for change in accessible areas. This reinforces a bifurcated system of internationals operating in the lowest risk regions with local actors relegated to the highest risk regions, which in turn exposes local actors to disproportionate risks and challenges.

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