5.6.2. Resources on Conflict-Affected Environments and the VC Project Cycle

The following provides thoughts, suggestions and recommendations for additional research, diagnostic tools, approaches and mechanisms that could help make the work of donors, project designers and practitioners in conflict-affected contexts more efficient and effective.

Value Chain Selection

  • Identifying market activities that continue to function at local and regional levels should be a priority when coordinating relief efforts and facilitating market access. While the EMMA tool does this for selected, critical markets, a basic assessment tool would allow practitioners to look at a broader range of markets to better coordinate their relief and development activities.
  • The UN early recovery cluster[1] is beginning to consider economic assessments and interventions earlier in their responses to conflict and disaster-related crises. However, these mechanisms do not provide appropriate or sufficient scope for economic issues early in conflict and post-conflict responses and donors and implementers need to expand their focus on economic development. While cash-based programming like transfers and cash for work are common cluster approach interventions, there is a need for more in-depth economic recovery programs such as those that support warehousing and critical supply chains.

Chain Analysis

  • A diagnostic tool combining data collected for a value chain analysis with that of other assessments used in post-conflict environments would facilitate the capture of critical value chain information, require minimal time and resources and introduce relief practitioners to key value chain development concepts.
  • Tools practitioners can use to quickly identify and assess the key enabling environment issues that impact economic recovery in post-conflict environments. While the EMMA tool does this for selected, critical markets, new tools could focus on a range of different markets.
  • An approach that would allow practitioners to assess both the value that producers add to their products — for instance sorting and grading coffee beans — and the relationships embedded in horizontal and vertical linkages to help implementers understand the flow of information, available services and power dynamics throughout the chain.
  • A conflict assessment tool that maps conflict drivers and fault lines onto the value chain map. International Alert is working with USAID’s AMAP project to refine such a tool.

Competitiveness Strategy

  • There is a need to identify microenterprise and industry competitiveness indicators that complement and can be incorporated into post-conflict needs assessments to address this level of analysis and planning.
  • Program designers need better information on specific market segments. Although there are buyer survey tools, practitioners rarely use them because they are difficult to use and very time-consuming. A simpler, generic tool that allows them to quickly and easily capture critical information for specific markets would be helpful for both designers and implementers.
  • A competitiveness and competitor assessment tool that is easier to use than Michael Porter’s Five Forces[2] would greatly facilitate the review and analysis of both the value chain structure and industry trends by project field staff.

Design and Implementation

  • Innovative tools that implementers and their partners can use to build local capacity
  • Pilot initiatives that are flexible, open to learning about and incorporating local solutions and able to respond quickly to changing market conditions. These types of innovative schemes can spur innovation, test and refine current recommendations and investigate unresolved challenges
  • A white-paper or other set of recommendations is needed to help donors adapt their policies and guidelines for emergency assistance and private sector development and to better support market development in crisis-affected areas
  • Research on the issues central to subsidies and sustainability could examine how implementers are using smart subsidies, matching contingency grants and vouchers and identify lessons learned and best practices. In addition to understanding how to use subsidies to benefit value chain actors, practitioners also need to know how to avoid harming both players and markets when using them
  • Guidance is needed to help practitioners adapt tools approaches and methodologies such as EMMA, the value chain approach and others to address gender issues in conflict countries
  • Additional empirical research is needed to help donors and practitioners better understand the broader impact of microfinance on conflict settings. How can measurable economic indicators demonstrate the impact of microfinance on economic recovery? There also is a need to understand if and how the lack of fighting – or its recurrence – might indicate if and how microfinance affects conflict and reconciliation.

Monitoring and Evaluation

  • There is a need for tools that identify and measure changes in the types and quality of relationships affected by conflict, particularly trust levels
  • Practitioners need a tool and guidance in how best to assess the enabling environment so they can map and understand existing policies, identify any critical policy gaps and determine how they might affect recovery and development efforts. An assessment will help them develop a baseline map and a system for continuous monitoring of an inevitably fluid situation. The EMMA tool provides guidance on conducting an initial mapping of the BEE and on revisiting and remapping to ensure the enabling environment continues to be fluid and move in a direction that favors private sector development.
  • Donor and implementing agencies have developed a range of methodologies for assessing value chains prior to project implementation, for monitoring throughout the life of the project, and for evaluating impact when a project ends. A more standardized approach and methodology that practitioners can adapt to each conflict context would simplify the processes, facilitate staff training and help ensure their proper use.
  • Programs that attempt to integrate specific conflict mitigation and management objectives and at the same time reach marginalized communities usually cost more and rarely demonstrate a positive economic impact. Research into balancing these social and economic objectives could help programmers and implementers design and carry out practical, businesslike projects and activities that can provide affected populations with expected social and economic benefits at relatively low cost.


  1. Humanitarian Reform and the Global Cluster Approach
  2. http://www.quickmba.com/strategy/porter.shtml