Friday, 6 June 2014

No Development Without Security

or No Security Without Development?

What is development?
The sustainable improvement of the well-being, equality and freedom of a country’s citizens through advancements in services and infrastructure such as education, healthcare and employment.

What is security?
Safety from threats including conflict and crime, hunger and disease; established through a well governed and policed society. Freedom from fear and from want; protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions to daily life; knowledge that time and money invested in education will improve one’s chances in life.

Although these terms may seem very similar the key difference is that development involves growth/improvement/change over the long-term whereas security is the short-term/immediate safety that allows you to think about improving your life and conversely is achieved by the improvement of your life.

How do they interact?
The main point to understand is that these two factors tend to go hand in hand; they can be seen as ‘interdependent’ or ‘mutually reinforcing’: most rich and developed countries are also secure, while many poor and undeveloped countries are insecure. The issue up for discussion is why this is and is traditionally looked at in two ways:

Development can’t happen unless a place is secure first. Not only this but insecurity can actually cause development to go backwards, i.e. insecurity can cause poverty. This lack of security could be a war that destroys infrastructure and disrupts education; it could be an environmental disaster that has similar effects. It could also be something more subtle such as poor environmental conditions (e.g. water insecurity) or poor political and economic conditions (e.g. insecurity of land tenure) that make it difficult for people to improve their lives.

A place cannot become secure unless it reaches a certain level of development first. In fact, a lack of development (i.e. impoverished conditions) can actually cause a place to become more insecure.  This is because without a good infrastructure and organised policing system crime will be more prevalent, and without a good quality of life citizens will be more likely to engage in crime or even armed struggles to try to improve their lives. Without a good irrigation system a farmer cannot have food security as he doesn’t know when the next crop failure could occur. Without an earthquake proof house it is difficult to be secure from hurtful disruptions to daily life if you know your house could collapse and kill you at any minute.

The complexity of the relationship is illustrated by Lael Brainard who describes the link between poverty (i.e. a lack of development) and insecurity as a ‘tangled web’ but summarises by simply saying:

‘Poverty is both a cause of insecurity and a consequence of it’


 ‘In the short run it’s hunky dory, but in the long run, it’s humpty dumpty’  - Paul Collier
He found that all countries who discovered and exported a new resource such as oil experienced significant short-term growth in GDP, but that countries with a poor system of governance (i.e. political insecurity) ended up worse off than before in the long term, whilst countries with good governance continued to see an increase in GDP. This is known as the ‘resource curse’ and illustrates how difficult it is for insecure countries to develop long-term.

Nigeria is the third biggest economy in Africa, largely due to its discovery and export of oil since the 1950s. In 2000 oil and gas exports accounted for 98% of Nigeria’s earnings and GDP more than doubled between 2005 and 2010. At first the discovery of oil led really stimulated the economy and gave the population great hopes for development. However, today 45% of people still live below the poverty line. Most Nigerians are now poorer than they were in the 1960s.

This is because Nigeria had such a poor system of governance when the oil was discovered, i.e. it was insecure. This lead to the following events that hindered development and even made it go backwards in the long run:

  • Nigeria’s oil industry is extremely corrupt meaning that 80% of the country’s energy revenues benefit only 1% of the population.
  • When the oil was discovered the farmers who lived there were forced off their land by the Nigerian government and it was given to oil companies including Royal Dutch Shell. Farmers were given compensation based on the value of the land for crops, while the government earned the value of the land based on oil.
  • A lack of environmental legislation means the discovery of oil has been a disaster for the environment with thousands of oil spills (>7000 in 30 years) in the Niger Delta. This had severe consequences on the farming and fishing industry.
  • At the same time, although 2/3 of people are employed in fishing or agriculture, the government has neglected these industries for years leading to decreased productivity and income.


‘War is development in reverse’ – Paul Collier

According to the Syrian Center for Policy Research (SCPR) the armed conflict in Syria is a ‘war on development’ and it has cited a range of evidence to support this claim. The war is ‘obliterating physical, financial, human and social capital’ resulting in a restructuring of the economy towards agriculture – a sector that is traditionally more dominant in less developed countries.

Infrastructure and services are being degraded, there is a rise in the informal sector and a weakening of human capital. Total economic loss as of June 2013 was estimated to be $103 billion. Around 3000 schools have been damaged or destroyed and only 50% of children are currently attending. The number of doctors per person has fallen from 1:700 to 1:4000 Syria’s HDI is now 20% lower than it was in 2011.



Even though Nigeria has discovered oil and could potentially became a rich and developed country, the government has failed to invest its resource wealth into development, instead keeping it for themselves and leaving the majority of the population in poverty. This has made it very difficult for the country to be secure and had even made it less secure than before as the following events have unfolded:

  • In response to the government’s failure to invest in these industries, failure to share oil wealth with the general population and failure to implement environmental laws, militant groups emerged such as MEND (the Movement for Emancipation of the Niger Delta) and demanded to be given their share of oil revenues and for the environmental degradation to be stopped. They have killed 4 oil workers, hijacked 12 ships and kidnapped 33 sailors working for oil companies since 2012.
  • At the same time competition for oil wealth among the impoverished citizens who reside in the Nile Delta has fuelled violence between many ethnic groups and various military factions have developed to try to seize control. Nearly the entire region has been militarized as a result of the discovery of oil in a poorly developed country.
  • The government has tried to repress the conflict using further military force but this has only served to make things worse. In all thousands of civilians including children have been beaten, raped and killed and hundreds of thousands have been displaced from their homes.


‘In the absence of the growth of the licit economy, the illicit economy will take over– Ashita Mittal

Afghanistan has experienced a continuous state of conflict since the 1970s, which has made it very difficult for the country to develop. However, until it becomes more developed it will be very difficult to attain peace and security.

This can be illustrated by the opium economy, which reached a record high with 200k hectares planted in 2013, despite the fact that UK troops have been sent to Helmand specifically to try and reduce opium production. Afghanistan produces more than 90% of the world’s opium (the main ingredient in heroin), a trade which is inextricably linked to both development and security.

Afghanistan is one of the poorest countries in the world. 42% live below the national poverty line and 20% are only just above. There are high levels of illiteracy in rural areas and most are completely dependent on agriculture for their livelihood. Climatic conditions are also difficult with sparse precipitation in summer and months of winter snow making crop yields unreliable. Only 40% of the land is irrigated and often ineffectively particularly in the poorest areas.

Over 75% of Afghan people live in rural areas where agriculture is primary activity. Opium poppy cultivation started in the 1970s as gross income per hectare was 12 – 30 times higher than the country’s staple, wheat. Poppies are also easier to grow and easier to sell.

Until the country develops enough to offer alternative sources of income for these people, it looks like the illegal opium economy will only continue to grow.

However, this issue can also be looked at in another way. Until Afghanistan has a secure and well policed society where laws the ban poppy farming are actually enforced, poppy farmers have little motivation to develop other sources of income, this hindering the development of the country as a whole. Despite being illegal, many officials have their own share in the opium economy, and in some areas, even if they don’t want to grow poppies, farmers are persuaded or scared into doing so by the Taliban to help fund their insurgencies.


‘War is not development in reverse’ Human Security Report 2012

Studies show that several development indicators appear to improve during periods of conflict, i.e. that development can still happen despite a lack of security. According to the HSR of 2012, Paul Collier’s description, whilst true in some cases, is not an accurate description of the impact of war, including on health and education. In fact, many conflict-affected countries experience improving development indicators even in the worst affected countries.

It is true that in some cases there is a slow-down of the rate of improvement but not an overall decline. Few conflicts today are destructive or deadly enough to reverse national trends. However, in other cases, even the rate of improvement increases. An example is Afghanistan, which experienced a dramatic increase in school enrolments after the overthrow of the Taliban, despite ongoing insurgency.

In a study by the UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS) only 11% of countries experienced a reversal in educational trends during conflict, while 40% has higher levels after the conflict compared to before.

‘War can be a catalyst for positive social and political change’ SOAS, University of London

Some studies even suggest that a lack of security can have a positive impact on development long-term.

Despite the negative consequences of conflict, historical evidence suggests that it has actually had a positive role in development. For example, fighting alongside each other can cause be a unifying experience that creates common identities; e.g. the world wars were key in developing national identities for many British Colonies. Allowing conflicts to run their course, sort out grievances and exhaust readiness to fight can be far more successful in achieving long term piece than enforcing peace agreements in which nobody really agrees. As a catalyst for positive change the American Civil war can be used as an example for abolishing slavery, arguably the beginning of racial equality in the US.


NB - A simple Google search of 'No Development without Security' will bring up numerous websites discussing the issue. I highly recommend browsing through some of these sites so you get a 'feel' for the topic and then decide on a few examples you can learn to use in an essay.

Who Else is Visiting This Blog?