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Post-conflict urban livelihoods

The urban informal economy's critical role in poverty-reduction, peace-building, and economic recovery in post-crisis or conflict cities, is explored through this impact-focussed research.

Funded under the DFID-ESRC Joint Fund Poverty Alleviation Research, Economic Recovery in Post-Conflict Cities: the Role of the Urban Informal Economy, focuses on urban areas in post-civil war settings, and on cities affected by protest or on-going turf wars. The research explores the complex drivers of conflict and links to the informal economy, examines the structural and individual factors that support or inhibit its growth, and analyses the role of local government in post-conflict economic recovery.

Political upheaval or violent conflict is often characterised by a fundamental failure of governance, and economic collapse in its aftermath is common. An immediate impact of crisis is the destruction of livelihoods and local economies, leading to insecurity, and poverty, which in turn exacerbate social and economic insecurity and rights violations. Political instability may also disrupt supply chains and markets, while investor confidence evaporates. There is evidence too that denial of social rights to specific groups and spatial divisions in cities causes a spiral of exclusion.

The hypothesis of the research is that in fragile and conflict-affected situations, the urban informal economy plays a pivotal role as a source of livelihoods and a platform for medium-term poverty-reduction, peace-building, and economic recovery, and that effective recognition of the informal economy by emergent local government and the international relief community is essential for this role to be realised.

The research adopts a mixed methods approach underpinned by the pathways from poverty framework and a rights-based approach, and focuses on four case study cities: Cairo, Hargeisa, Kathmandu, and Karachi, to explore the changing informal economy practices and operations in post-conflict and crisis settings.


DFID-ESRC Joint Fund for Poverty Alleviation Research, Project ES/M008789/1 (2015-2018)

Research collaborators

  • UN-Habitat
  • Commonwealth Local Government Forum


  • Professor Alison Brown, Cardiff University
  • Dr Peter Mackie, Cardiff University
  • Kate Dickenson, Cardiff University
  • Professor Sudha Shrestha, Tribhuvan University of Nepal, Kathmandu
  • Eid Ali Ahmed, Expert
  • Professor Saeed Ahmed Hassan Ibrahim, Gollis University, Hargeisa
  • Dr Nezar Kafafy, University of Cairo
  • Dr Saeed Ud Din Ahmed, NED University, Karachi
  • Joseph Schechla, Habitat International Coalition, Egypt
  • Dr Ilda Lindell, Stockholm University