On June 21, the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) hosted an event featuring guest speakers and a public discussion of a study led by the Empirical Studies of Conflict Project (ESOC), based at Princeton University. The study, commissioned by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), evaluates the effectiveness of different stabilizing programs in Afghanistan and reflects on the most essential components of a successful program.
Ethan Kapstein, associate director of ESOC and visiting lecturer at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs, summarized the main findings in a special policy report titled “Aid and Stabilization in Afghanistan.”
Among the most significant conclusions was that smaller aid programs are more effective than large organizations in reducing conflict, as they can target the issues of local communities, are less likely to draw the attention of corrupt officials and are easier to manage. The study also found that aid programs should consider ways in which insurgents in a conflict may undermine projects and should integrate data collection into the program design from the outset.
The ESOC Project compiles and analyzes micro-level conflict data on insurgency, civil war, and politically motivated violence worldwide. The group provides policymakers and war fighters with recommendations on how to respond to security threats.