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Evaluating Aid Programs in Afghanistan

Evaluating Aid Programs in Afghanistan


Studies have shown that poverty leaves communities and, in particular, youths vulnerable to insurgent recruitment, and that aid programs seeking to improve employment and economic prospects can help shift support away from insurgents, in favor of the government. These programs also raise the opportunity costs for participating in armed rebellion, making it harder for insurgents to recruit.

In the News:

“In the program, we randomly assigned 2,597 youths to receive three to six months of vocational training; a $75 cash transfer via cellphone; both; or none. We then measured changes in economic outcomes and support for the government and Taliban about two weeks after the conclusion of the program, and then again seven to nine months later.”

Here’s what they found:

“The group that received both vocational training and cash showed a relatively large 16.7 percent decrease in its willingness to engage in pro-Taliban actions by the seven-to-nine-month mark. Compared with the initial survey results, this group also recorded a large 20 percentage-point drop in their belief that use of violence against the state is legitimate; an increased belief in the performance of both the national and local government; and an increased belief that the government was responsive to the group’s needs.”

Peace Science Insights:

Studies have shown that advancing programs aimed at increasing life opportunities can drastically decrease a person’s willingness to fight in her/his country’s wars.

This means that such programs may be particularly useful in developing countries where an increase in economic opportunity would be the most noticeable, and where participation in violent conflict often serves as one of the most stable sources of income.


Peace Science Digest Vol 1, Issue 2: “Quality Of Life Impacts Individuals’ Willingness To Take Up Arms”.

“To Win ‘Hearts and Minds’ In Afghanistan, Some Aid Programs Worked Better Than Others.”  By Jason Lyall And Rebecca Wolfe For Monkey Cage. Feb. 19, 2018.


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