Effectiveness of UK Aid



29th April 2020


Summary of Concordis’ International’s submissions:

This submission addresses the first three points in the Scope of the Inquiry:

Point 1:              The definition and administration of UK aid – who should be responsible, and accountable, for targeting and spending aid?

1a)              When UK Aid is delivered in fragile and conflict affected regions, it must have regard to conflict analysis from those with country-specific peacebuilding expertise, to ensure the assistance meets its target objectives, is sensitive to the conflict and has no harmful unintended consequences.

Concordis’ submissions: 1.1 to 1.5


Point 2: How effective and transparent is the UK aid spent by the Department for International Development (DFID) compared to aid allocated to other Government departments and to the cross-Government funds?

2a)              UK Aid spent by DFID on long term local peacebuilding programmes is proven to be efficient and effective use of public funds, with a measurable impact. 

2b)              DFID has a global reputation with peacebuilders and with other funders as a responsive and responsible actor in this complex field; one that takes an active and proactive approach in adapting programmes to the rapidly evolving context.

Concordis’ submissions: 1.1 to 1.13


Point 3: How should the national interest be defined, and what weight should it be given in relation to targeting UK aid.

3a)              Preventing violent conflict incurs a fraction of the financial, personal, military, environmental and emotional costs of armed intervention or post-conflict reconstruction.

3b)              Investment in peacebuilding addresses root causes of violent extremism, forced migration, sex trafficking and the spread of extremist ideologies, as acknowledged in the National Security Strategy 2015

3c)              Peacebuilding programmes will form a vital part of the fight against both the causes and effects of climate change, as well as ensuring local ownership of programmes to prevent the spread of global pandemics

3d)              Violent extremism, forced migration, climate change and disease are no respecters of international boundaries and their effects are felt on UK soil as well as internationally.

Concordis’ submissions: 1.7 to 1.13

1.      Concordis’ Submissions:

Investment in peacebuilding is proven to be efficient and effective use of public funds because it:

1.1.        Creates the conditions necessary for humanitarian and development assistance to be delivered effectively and cost efficiently in fragile and conflict affected states, meeting target outcomes for poverty reduction and avoiding unintended or harmful consequences.

1.2.        Ensures development assistance in fragile and conflict affected states is delivered collaboratively, maintains its pro-poor focus and leaves no-one behind, by consulting and securing active participation of women, youth and marginalised groups.  For example, Concordis works in partnership with local civil society organisations in South Sudan and Mauritania, and in consortium with five international development organisations in Central African Republic.

1.3.        Addresses barriers to access to education for girls and young women, including intercommunity tensions and sexual and gender-based violence, including a DFID funded programme in CAR.

1.4.        Finds workable and mutually beneficial solutions to complex problems.

1.5.        Is scalable, but highly nuanced; it needs local engagement, long term commitment and robust conflict analysis that integrates gender dynamics.

1.6.        Evaluates success with expertise in measuring changes in attitudes and behaviour of protagonists.

1.7.        Prevents violent conflict that destroys infrastructure needed for sustainable livelihoods, delivery of public services and access to local and global markets.

1.8.        Stimulates intercommunity trade and the diversification of livelihoods, which build resilience to conflict and lower aid-dependence by generating resilient livelihoods and resilience to the effects of climate change (see case studies on Amiet Market and on Conflict and Climate Change below).

1.9.        Puts in place early warning and local conflict manage systems that resolve tensions before they escalate into widespread and contagious violence.  For example, UK peacebuilding charities maintain a network of local community mediators from conflict sites who manage resource conflicts across the Sahel.  The case study on Conflict and Climate Change (para 3.20) shows how these could be used to disseminate life-saving forecasting of extreme weather events.

1.10.    Goes beyond stabilisation of conflict by enabling a just and sustainable peace, which addresses root causes of conflict and poverty by promoting shared economic development (see case studies on Amiet Market and on Conflict and Climate Change below).

1.11.    Promotes good governance, democratic participation and accountability of the political process by giving opportunities to hold elected leaders to account.

1.12.    Forms a vital part of the fight against both the causes and effects of climate change (see case study below).  Intercommunity dialogue enables communities to adapt to the effects of climate change and extreme weather events by negotiating solutions to crises.  Large scale programmes to mitigate the effects of climate change, including through tree planting and alternative power generation, need to be delivered in a way that is sensitive to conflict dynamics.

1.13.    Ensures the UK maintains its reputation for being a world leader in championing and delivering all the Sustainable Development Goals, with Goal 16 of peace, justice and strong institutions being a cross-cutting enabler of the others.

2.      Peacebuilding and markets: The example of Abyei in contested territory between Sudan and South Sudan



2.1          Abyei is a contested territory on the border of Sudan and South Sudan.  It is home to South Sudanese Ngok Dinka people and its land has provided water and grazing for Sudanese Misseriya Ajaira herders for centuries.  At the national level, the territory is contested between Sudan and South Sudan and security is currently provided by the UN Interim Force for Abyei (UNISFA).  It was agreed in 2005 there would be a referendum on whether to be part of Sudan or South Sudan, but that referendum hasn’t taken place because of disputes over who is eligible to vote.

2.2          Relations between Misseriya and Ngok Dinka groups completely broke down after the conflicts in 2007 and 2012 and the assassination of the Ngok Dinka Paramount Chief in 2013. 

2.3          In 2014, Concordis began the slow process of rebuilding peace in Abyei, listening to the grievances, fears and aspirations of each side and slowly earning their trust, led to:




2.3.1          The opening up of communications between Misseriya and Ngok Dinka groups when this was deemed impossible

2.3.2          Concordis being asked to broker negotiations over the return of kidnapped children and the return of stolen livestock

2.3.3          The establishment in 2016 of a Joint Peace Committee and a Joint Community Court to manage disputes peacefully and equitably

2.3.4          The re-establishment of safe seasonal livestock migration in 2016 after a five year hiatus, including a monitoring system to ensure accountability

2.3.5          Significant and measurable changes in attitudes on all sides towards people they might previously have considered ‘other’

2.3.6          The setting up of Amiet Market, also in 2016, to enable trade between these communities to their mutual benefit.  The market is widely seen as a reason to keep the peace, despite the political pressures over the contested territory, since it resulted in:

2.3.7          The creation of diverse livelihoods including for women and young people who provide food, porterage and other services

2.3.8          The lowering of food prices

2.3.9          3,000 tonnes of goods to be traded every week by 500 store-holders

2.3.10      Up to 10,000 people using the market each day

2.3.11      A portal for goods traded internationally between Sudan and South Sudan, including food, livestock, vehicles, building materials, mobile phones, fuel and scrap metal

2.3.12      The return of people displaced by the conflict


3.      Conflict and climate change: The particular case of herder / farmer relations in the Sahel

The debate:

3.1.        There’s been much debate about the causal links between climate change and conflict.  Both causes of conflict and the effects of climate change are highly complex, nuanced and variable; we believe it’s unwise to look for a sole trigger of any conflict.

3.2.        Studies describing climate change as a multiplier effect,[1] exacerbating both the risk and the impact of conflict in regions with other conflict drivers, seem closer to the mark.  Sadly, much of the Sahel experiences many other potential drivers of conflict, including political instability, poor governance, low levels of economic resilience and easily appropriated natural resources. 

3.3.        Many people in the Sahel are also dependent on subsistence agriculture, with correspondingly low resilience to shocks, including shocks caused by variations in climate.

What we know:

On the down-side:










3.4.        We already see extreme weather events in the Sahel causing both drought and flooding.  We’re told these are likely to increase in both frequency and severity due to climate change.

3.5.        Conflict and criminality devastate people’s resilience to shocks, including those caused by extreme weather events. 

3.6.        When the rains in the Sahel are light, late or they fall at unexpected times, this disrupts the usual patterns of farming and seasonal movement of livestock.

3.7.        When migrating livestock move unexpectedly into farmland, this will cause conflict with sedentary farming populations.  When crops are destroyed on a large scale, whether by livestock, floods or drought, and when people lack resilience or reserves, this will cause food insecurity and people’s means of subsistence will be lost.  They will become dependent on aid, they’ll move or they’ll die.

3.8.        When people and livestock are suddenly displaced, whether by floods, loss of livelihoods or conflict, these movements need to be carefully managed if they’re not to come into conflict, either between themselves or with host populations.

3.9.        When herds are forced to spend the dry season in the north due to political instability, closed borders or fear of violence, this causes overgrazing, resource-conflict between herders and the cutting of trees to clear new pasturage.  It can also cause death of livestock due to starvation or disease, again leading to loss of livelihoods.

3.10.    Disruption of migration patterns, violent conflict and low state capacity cause environmental damage to national parks and nature-reserves, due to poaching of endangered species, illegal farming and grazing in the parks.

3.11.    While climate change is certainly a threat-multiplier, an over-prioritisation on one conflict dynamic can shift focus away from the complexity of the situation.  Climate change can be used to mask other political failings and structural injustices, and is already being ‘weaponised’ to attack or marginalise particular groups. 

More positively:













3.12.    When peacebuilding mechanisms are in place for communities to meet and to manage conflict, these mechanisms can be used and indeed are being used[2] to manage unexpected movement of people and livestock, including those caused by climate variations and extreme weather events. 

3.13.    When properly managed, seasonal livestock migration can be to the mutual economic benefit of both herders and farmers: livestock grazing on crop-stubble fertilises the fields; trade in milk, meat, leather goods for vegetables, salts and hospitality improves resilient livelihoods; cattle can be hired to help plough fields.

3.14.    Increased commercial and social interaction prompted by the above does, in turn, increase the choice of available livelihoods.  Some herders settle or become semi-nomadic; some farmers take on livestock; herders use their cattle to transport goods for sale; people diversify their livelihoods by trading goods and services, providing hospitality or working for the state.  This increases resilience and might also be seen as adaptation to the effects of climate change.

3.15.    Increased diversification as well as commercial and social interaction improves communities’ resilience to shocks, resilience to conflict, resilience of livelihoods and resilience to the effects of climate change.

3.16.    Managing seasonal migration to mutual benefit can change incentives of conflict actors, including those with political power, bandits and armed groups; it can become financially more profitable to trade peacefully than to engage in banditry.

3.17.    Managing seasonal migration to mutual benefit can also increase the capacity of the state, as government officials gain status, reputation and tax revenue for negotiating equitable access to pasturage, arbitrating between those in conflict, managing security, assessing damages and compensation and providing services, including veterinary services.

3.18.    Planned migration mitigates the effects of climate change by preventing overgrazing and deforestation.

3.19.    Peacebuilding programmes provide an effective forum for addressing important environmental issues, including water use and management of water points.  Similarly, climate-related factors may provide entry points for dialogue between parties in conflict.

3.20.    Whilst climate prediction is highly complex, DFID and others have invested heavily in improving the usability of weather and climate information, its intelligibility to lay users and its dissemination networks across parts of Africa, for example through the BRACED programme.  Peacebuilding networks and early warning systems could and should be used to disseminate this life-saving information. 

3.21.    Peacebuilding programmes focus on promoting long-term structural changes.  They could and should incorporate a better understanding of potential climate change impacts, to ensure that peaceful settlements include well-informed and sustainable adaptation to the long-term effects of climate change.

4.      Concordis International

4.1.        Concordis is a UK-based peacebuilding charity.  We work alongside those involved in or affected by armed conflict, helping them find workable solutions that address the root causes of conflict and contribute to lasting peace and economic development.  We’re committed to finding solutions that benefit women as well as men, those in armed groups as well as those who chose not to take up arms, national governments as well as civil society.

4.2.        Concordis has current peacebuilding programmes in Sudan, South Sudan, Central African Republic and Mauritania, with additional networks of peacebuilders in Chad and Cote d’Ivoire.

4.3.        We have a strong reputation for successfully facilitating conflict management around cross-border seasonal livestock migration and trade, and for ensuring this is to mutual economic benefit, despite working in very difficult contexts.

4.4.        Our approach is based on impartiality and inclusive participation of local people, giving them voice in finding solutions that are locally sourced, locally owned, sustainable and workable. We have a reputation for nuanced conflict analysis and for forging consensus between different professional disciplines, creating peace dividends through synergy and joined up approaches. This includes research into entry points for private sector investment. 

4.5.        An independent evaluation of Concordis’ work on promoting peaceful trade and cross-border movements of livestock found:

Concordis is a continuously respected, appreciated and important actor for supporting the peaceful management of cross-border conflicts in targeted border areas between South Sudan and Sudan. According to external stakeholders consulted by the [evaluator], Concordis is instrumental in supporting local mechanisms for peaceful cross-border seasonal migration, in the context of ongoing conflict between and within those two countries.

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[1] E.g. Nett and Ruttinger (2016): Insurgency, terrorism and organised crime in a warming climate – analysing the links between climate change and not-state armed groups.

[2] https://www.adelphi.de/en/publication/guidelines-conflict-sensitive-adaptation-climate-change