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The economic costs of the conflict

Laura Guibert, ICS researcher and creator of the NGO EDUKEN, presented at the II Week of development her work on the impact of post-election violence on Economics in Kenya.

07/06/13 16:23 Elena Ojer
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Laura Guibert Lacasa
PHOTO: Chus Cantalapiedra

On December 27, 2007 presidential elections were held in Kenya. Mwai Kibaki was declared the winner, but his opponent Raila Odinga denounced electoral fraud and supporters of both political platforms linked to different ethnic groups provoked riots in several areas of the country. The result was hundreds of deaths and thousands of displaced people.

Laura Guibert, a researcher at the University's ICS International development Center, measured in her thesis of Master's Degree the impact that this post-election violence had on the country's Economics . "I specialize in research on Kenya. I had already been reading about the economic policies and other elections held in the country, and I thought it was a very interesting and novel study topic , which also allowed me to take advantage of all the previous research I had already done", explains Laura. And she concludes: "It is necessary to quantify the cost of violence in an election, so that a government can remedy it".

- What were the results of the study?

Most significantly, between 2007 (elections were held on December 27 of that year) and 2011 (study period) GDP per capita declined $70 per year, a 5% drop from 2007. The largest difference was recorded in 2009 with a loss of 6% of GDP.

What would be interesting now would be to extend the study to other countries where there have also been elections with violence, to quantify the economic cost in those cases and to be able to compare it with Kenya. It would serve, above all, to put in context this 6% loss in relation to what happened in other countries.

- In July you will present your study at the OECD inter-university lecture in Paris; but last March you presented it in Oxford, how was that experience?

The level was very high, and I was able to meet many people from different countries. The good thing about opportunities like this is that people from very different disciplines listen to you, and give you recommendations from different fields and perspectives. People asked me questions and suggested other research or papers that could help me. Most of them had been involved in research for many years.

In addition to presenting my work, I had the opportunity to attend to other very interesting conferences. It was a very good experience.  

- Now you have presented your work at the II Week of development, which seeks to provide viable and sustainable solutions to the problems of development, what does your study contribute in this regard?

Indeed, the Center works to look for feasible solutions or analyze policies that have been adopted in other countries and that have worked, and that can be implemented in developing countries at development. But the first thing to do is to detect the problem and that is what I have done: quantify a problem that occurred in Kenya. Then, we have to see if in other countries, faced with the same problem, a feasible solution has been found; and from there we can extract different ideas and suggest some measures to the governments.

- What other solutions and opportunities for development are being presented and discussed these days?

A course on the causes and consequences of civil conflict is being offered by Professor Prakarsh Singh of the University of Amherst (Massachusetts). It is given by Professor Prakarsh Singh of the University of Amherst (Massachusetts) and focuses on different countries. There have also been very interesting presentations on the quality of government and institutions, which is also a basic pillar for a government to develop; on the excessive financing of countries..., with very interesting speakers such as Oded Stark, John Londregan, Ugo Panizza.... There is a great variety of topics and the quality of the experts is very high. The questions and suggestions in the presentations are also very enriching.

An NGO for promote the Education

- Was it as a result of your study on Kenya that you came up with the idea of creating the NGO EDUKEN? What does it do? What are its objectives?

That's right, it was as a result of studying the Kenyan reality, its policies of Education, its growth, its monetary policies...

When Kenyans finish high school, they take an exam. Depending on the grade, the government funds their university programs of study . But those who get the best grade are the ones who have had the opportunity to go to better schools, to have textbooks, the best teachers... And, on the contrary, the kids from Kibera, which is the second largest slum in Africa, cannot have, many times, a continuous Education , they don't have books... they don't have the same facilities. For them to get to a high grade in that exam is very difficult, so they can't get the government to pay for their university. In reality, it is a fish that bites its own tail: those who get a good grade, generally, are the ones who would not need to have their university financed; and the people who get the worst grade is precisely because they do not have the resources to pay for their Education, and therefore have no way to go to university, by their own means.

EDUKEN was created to try to reduce these differences. We give scholarships to kids from Kibera so that they can go to university or study a professional course. It's the only way they can get a work with a steady salary and lift their family out of poverty.

Right now there are three boys studying with the NGO's financial aid at Strathmore College.  

- How do you raise the funds?

At first I told my family and friends. As I went through all the steps to create the NGO, they started to help.

Now EDUKEN already has a website, it is a public entity... and we are going to start putting on internship different ideas to raise funds. Our main goal is to raise awareness among the students of the University, involve them with different initiatives, and encourage them to collaborate.