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P4P in post-conflict countries – difficult but important

Conflict and food insecurity are strongly interlinked. Violence can be one of the main drivers for food insecurity, which in turn also fuels conflict and can impede reconciliation. Combined with relief and recovery activities, P4P can therefore help mitigate conflict. Moreover, it can support households and communities during conflict as well as accelerating post-conflict recovery.

WFP is deliberately piloting P4P in a very diverse set of countries to determine the various positive and possibly negative outcomes of different approaches in different environments. In post-conflict countries like Afghanistan, Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia, Sierra Leone and South Sudan, many difficulties have been revealed.

Countless obstacles face P4P implementation

One example is the lack of roads and basic transport infrastructure in South Sudan, hindering most smallholder farmers to access markets. “Besides the remarkably poor infrastructure, weak markets and agro practices in South Sudan, we are also dealing with many other post-conflict symptoms. Many of the farmers that we approach have been traumatized, others are suspicious towards us. The most difficult challenge for P4P here must be the aid-dependency that has been deep-rooted in people throughout decades of conflict.” said Marc Sauveur, P4P country coordinator in South Sudan.

In Sierra Leone, the post-war environment revealed challenges at farmers’ organisation level. Insufficient management skills, lack of good governance and transparency were leading to mistrust among members. In order to enable a business relationship, P4P and its partners had to address the problems through sensitization and various trainings on business ethics and the importance of good governance and transparency.

Combining short-term responses with P4P in post-conflict countries

While the overall objectives of P4P are the same in every pilot, the approaches and targets can be as diverse as the countries are themselves. One of the vital opportunities for P4P as a conflict mitigation instrument is to develop a synergy with WFP’s emergency response and recovery projects.  Since an emergency response focuses on creating swift but short-term interventions it can be complemented by P4P’s medium term development objectives. The combined strategic efforts of both interventions can contribute to stability and open doors for development and exit strategies.

Flexible methods in a fragile and ever-changing environment

There is always a risk that a post-conflict environment can easily become a pre-conflict environment. In Afghanistan for example, the situation has changed considerably since P4P was introduced in 2010. Due to security constraints and increasing challenges with access and capacity, the country office is in the process of reviewing its P4P strategy.

“P4P has to combine a bottom-up approach - working with field-level organizations - with a top-down approach - partnering with institutions and government ministries at the policy level, having entry points throughout the entire value chain. In this ever-evolving and high risk environment we need to be both flexible and dynamic, yet we have to maintain our mid-term objectives.” said Djordje Vdovic, P4P country coordinator in Afghanistan.

Conflict affected women using P4P as a tool for protection

P4P’s engagement through farmers’ organizations has demonstrated to be a powerful tool in post-conflict environments, especially for women. In Liberia, women have used the P4P platform, not only to increase their incomes through sales but to establish a social network strengthening their protection. One of the Liberian farmers, Fatu Namieh Nyen, highlighted P4P as a protection tool when speaking at the P4P Annual Consultation in early 2013.

“During the war in Liberia neighbours were killing each other. After the war, people were afraid and sometimes didn’t talk to each other. Since P4P, we have to work together to sell our rice together. Now, I go check on my sisters when they don’t come to a meeting. I go see what is wrong. P4P is not just helping us earn money; it is bringing us peace we have not had. It is rebuilding trust and community. That is what P4P is to me.” said Fatu.