ENVIRONMENTAL AND SOCIOECONOMIC IMPACTS OF ARMED CONFLICT

IMPACTS OF CONFLICT ON URBAN AREAS

It is estimated that one in three African city-dwellers lives in life-threatening conditions, with the number of the urban poor expected to reach 404 million in 2015, or 46 per cent of the population, compared to 241 million people in 1990; this percentage is expected to increase (Auclair 2005). Conflict can have a distorting affect on settlement and production systems, making a bad situation even worse.

Figure 3: Conflict contributes to rapid urban growth in Luanda, Angola Increased urbanization can be a factor. In Angola, for example, a combination of war-related factors resulted in rapid and unplanned urbanization. The population of the capital city, Luanda, doubled from 1990 to 2001, and the proportion of the total population living in the capital is the highest of any country in SSA (Tvedten 2001). This was in part due to the effects the war had in rural areas, including reduced access to agricultural land because of landmines, related chronic food insecurity, isolation from markets, and the general threat of violence against civilians. Displacement was used as an instrument of war by all parties to the conflict. Between 1.3 million and 2 million people fled their homes from 1992 to 1994, moving primarily to urban areas. Between 1998 and 2002, when hostilities ended, an additional 3.3 million persons were forced to flee their homes (Watchlist 2002).

Infrastructure deterioration is particularly significant, due to a loss of investment as well as a reduced ability to maintain these structures. This has implications for health, communications, education and overall well-being. More than 50 per cent of Luanda’s population, and most that live in the musseques, do not have access to piped water (Cain 2004). The peri-urban and musseque population is forced to pay for water pumped from the Bengo River and distributed by informal sellers. Incredibly, the poor in Luanda pay up to 10 000 times more per litre for water than do the wealthier inhabitants who live in formal settlements (Cain 2004).

The population of Maputo, the capital city of Mozambique, has also suffered greatly as a result of war. As in Angola, urbanization rates increased rapidly because of the war, with, for example, rates of 40 per cent in Maputo Province in 1991 (Baden 1997).

Box 7: Impacts of war and peace

Angola and Mozambique – who share a similar colonial history and the same year of national independence – are good examples of the influence of peace and armed conflict on development and the standard of living of the people.

Although both followed a similar process to peace in 1992, after more than two decades of armed conflict, only Mozambique managed to sustain its peace process, and effectively open up the democratic space for opposition politics. It has been recording unprecedented economic growth and development over the past 15 years of peace. It grew on average at 6.7 per cent annually between 1993 and 1999 and by more than 10 per cent annually between 1997 and 1999. Although the devastating floods of early 2000, which slowed growth to a 2.1 per cent, Mozambique achieved a full recovery, notching 14.8 per cent growth in 2001. The government projects the economy to continue expanding between 7 and 10 per cent annually for the 5 years from 2004 to 2009 (US Department of State 2006b).

Angola, however, slid back into armed conflict after the 1992 peace agreement and subsequent parliamentary elections failed to erase decades of suspicion and conflict between the government and UNITA, the rebel movement. The result was continued under-development despite the abundance in crude oil, diamonds and other natural resources. Poverty is extreme in Angola, for example, in 1999 alone, about 3.7 million people (Arvind and Vines 2004), including internally displaced persons, required humanitarian assistance from the UN or NGOs. The country ranks in the bottom 20 of almost every socioeconomic indicator as a result of war. Despite abundant natural resources, output per capita remains among the world’s lowest (UNDP 2005). It has however recently showed signs of improved growth directly related to the establishment of peace, and an improved investment climate. In 2004, it grew at 11.5 per cent, however, inflation remains high (56.1 per cent) and savings low (34 per cent) (ECA 2005).

Sources: Arvind and Vines 2004, ECA 2005, UNDP 2005, US Department of State 2006a, US Department of State 2006b