Conflict-Sensitive Programming

De-Colonization and Economic Deprivation

The anti-colonial struggle in Southern Africa lasted much longer than in the rest of the continent, practically ending only with the changes in South Africa in 1994. Many of the countries in this region of Africa have seen liberation wars that have created deep-rooted animosities between groups supported by the two global powers of East and West, between rich and poor, and between the races. The re-distribution of wealth, the ownership of land and other productive resources, and the misuse of power have had a strong impact on the slow development in several of the countries in the southern parts of the continent.

"Do No Harm" in Southern Africa:
Working for the Alleviation of Poverty


After the violent struggle to overcome the apartheid system of former Rhodesia, Zimbabwe has faced some differences among the two major ethnic groups and has also seen serious conflicts around the distribution of land resources, which has apparently happened more according to political criteria than to economic feasibility. Unfortunately, the country has changed from an exporter of agricultural products to a place of famine and starvation. As a result, recent elections have been marked by political violence, pushing many people to look sceptically into the future.

As part of the global capacity-building programme of the Norwegian Ecumenical Peace Platform, "Do No Harm" has been introduced to Zimbabwe by the United Methodist Church and its development branch Chabadza. The first workshop not only presented the concept but also looked at the local context, analysing ethnic tenions and the competition between different churches, which had both affected practical implementation of community development projects in the past. In a second workshop, staff members, priests and partners from local authorities learnt about "Reflecting on Peace Practice" and used this concept to analyse electoral violence and land conflicts.


As part of the Portuguese colonial empire, Mozambique had achieved independence much later than most other countries in Africa, only to be drawn into the offsprings of the "Cold War" for another decade of fighting. For a long time, the country's development had been impeded by violence but this has fortunately changed in recent times.

Although we ourselves have so far not worked in Mozambique, it is worth mentioning that one of the original case studies leading to the development of the "Do No Harm" concept has come from this country. This case study had looked at the reintegration efforts of the Danish Refugee Council and the Norwegian Refugee Council in the post-war context at the beginning of the 1990s and can be downloaded from the "material" pages of this website.
go to: Material / Case Studies


One of the biggest islands in the world, Madagascar is located in the Indian Ocean some 800 km east of the African continent. Due to its isolated location and to its geographical and anthropological characteristics, Madagascar is in many aspects different from other countries in Africa, sharing many features with places in South-East Asia, from where most of the population descends. The country had a long history as an indigenous kingdom before it became part of the French colonial empire and gained independence in 1960. While further political developments remained relatively peaceful, this suddenly changed at the turn of the millenium. Since that time, Madagascar has seen serious political divisions which have led to mass demonstrations and to human rights violations.

In our own network, we have not had much contact with Madagascar. Staff members of the Malagasy Lutheran Church, however, have participated in a workshop organized by the Norwegian Ecumenical Peace Platform in Nairobi and have expressed their eagerness to apply "Do No Harm" in practice.

Apart from our own network, there are other colleagues who have worked in Madagascar for a long time, so that a number of local organizations might actually be aware of conflict-sensitive approaches to development.