The Relationship Between Poverty and War

1. Introduction

The world has seen an increase in the number of civil wars in the past few decades. According to the World Bank, there were 24 civil wars taking place in the year 1990, but this number had increased to 51 by the year 2000. In the majority of these cases, the primary cause of the war has been identified as economic problems and poverty.

There is a strong connection between poverty and war. Poverty can be both a cause and a consequence of war. Most developing countries suffering from civil wars have been found to be economically incapacitated. The UNDP’s Human Development Report for 1993 showed that out of 52 least developed countries, 36 had been affected by major episodes of violence and conflict.

The economic costs of war are high, and they are borne primarily by civilians. In addition to the direct costs of fighting, such as damage to infrastructure and loss of life, there are indirect costs that can be even more damaging to long-term economic growth. These include things like displacement of people, loss of human capital, and destruction of social capital.

2. The Relationship Between Poverty and War

There is a strong relationship between poverty and war. Poverty can be both a cause and a consequence of war. Most developing countries suffering from civil wars have been found to be economically incapacitated. The UNDP’s Human Development Report for 1993 showed that out of 52 least developed countries, 36 had been affected by major episodes of violence and conflict.

The main reason for this close connection is that poverty leaves people vulnerable to exploitation and manipulation by those who seek to start or continue a conflict. Poor people are often forced to join militias or rebel groups because they cannot find other work or they are promised food or money. In some cases, they may not even understand what they are fighting for. Once they are recruited, they become cannon fodder in battles that have little to do with their own lives or interests.

The other side of the coin is that warfare destroys economies and creates conditions of extreme poverty. This was evident in post-war Bosnia where over 60% of the population was living below the poverty line just four years after the war ended. In Afghanistan, more than 35% of the population is living in poverty despite billions of dollars in international aid since 2001. In Iraq, over half the population is now estimated to be living in poverty due to years of conflict and economic sanctions.

3. Civil War and Economic Instability

Civil wars have a devastating effect on economies. They destroy physical infrastructure, reduce investment, disrupt trade, discourage tourism, and displace people who then become reliant on aid for survival. All of these factors lead to reduced economic growth and higher levels of poverty.

In particular, civil wars tend to have a negative impact on investment and capital flows. Foreign investors are often reluctant to invest in countries that are experiencing internal conflict because they perceive them as being too risky. This lack of investment can lead to further economic decline as businesses struggle to find the capital they need to expand or modernize their facilities.

Another way in which civil wars negatively impact economies is through inflationary pressures caused by an increase in military spending. This is often financed through borrowing, which leads to higher levels of debt and eventually reduces government revenue because interest payments take up a larger portion of the budget.

4. Lack of Social Services

Poverty is also exacerbated by the lack of social services that are typically provided by the state. In countries that are in the midst of a civil war, government spending on health, education, and other social services is often cut back dramatically. This is due to both the need to finance the war effort and the fact that many government workers are themselves displaced or have fled the country.

The result is that people living in poverty are even less likely to have access to basic services like healthcare and education. This lack of opportunity can further entrench them in poverty and make it even harder for them to find a way out.

5. The Role of the State in Conflict and Poverty

The state plays a key role in both conflict and poverty. In many cases, it is the state itself that is responsible for starting or prolonging a conflict. This can be seen in the example of Sudan, where the government has been fighting a civil war against rebel groups for over two decades. The conflict has been fueled by the government’s attempts to maintain control over the country’s vast oil resources.

The state also plays a role in perpetuating poverty. This is often done through economic policies that favor the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor and vulnerable. In some cases, such as Iraq under Saddam Hussein, this can be done deliberately in order to keep people dependent on the state and therefore less likely to challenge its authority. In other cases, it may simply be a by-product of policies that are not specifically designed to target poverty but which have that effect nonetheless.

6. Conclusion

There is a strong connection between poverty and war. Poverty can be both a cause and a consequence of war. Most developing countries suffering from civil wars have been found to be economically incapacitated. The economic costs of war are high, and they are borne primarily by civilians. In addition to the direct costs of fighting, such as damage to infrastructure and loss of life, there are indirect costs that can be even more damaging to long-term economic growth. These include things like displacement of people, loss of human capital, and destruction of social capital.

FAQ

War and poverty are connected in developing countries because conflict can destroy infrastructure and lead to a loss of essential services, while also preventing people from being able to work and earn an income. This can create a vicious cycle where people are unable to escape poverty.

The consequences of this connection can be devastating, as it can exacerbate existing problems like hunger and disease, and also lead to displacement and homelessness. Additionally, it can create long-term problems like mental health issues and economic instability.

There are a number of things that can be done to mitigate the effects of this connection, such as providing humanitarian aid, investing in rebuilding infrastructure, and supporting peacebuilding initiatives.