Ex-combatant Reintegration in Liberia
This project is an evaluation of an agricultural training and resettlement program for high-risk young adults in Liberia, especially poorly integrated male ex-combatants. The primary aim is to see to what extent an intensive economic and life skills intervention can rehabilitate high-risk individuals and reduce aggression and armed violence.
Other: Agricultural and life skills training program
|Study Design:||Allocation: Randomized
Intervention Model: Parallel Assignment
Masking: Open Label
|Official Title:||Evaluating a Landmine Action Ex-combatant Reintegration Program in Liberia|
- Potential for Social Instability [ Time Frame: 1 year after completion of program ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]This outcome includes engagement in illicit activities, ease of mobilization, political attitudes, violence and aggression, how settled they are, integration into mainstream society, and mental health symptoms.
- Economic Stability [ Time Frame: 1 year after completion of program ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]This outcome includes employment and poverty level.
- Preferences [ Time Frame: 1 year after completion of program ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]This outcome includes risk and time preferences.
- Interest in Agriculture [ Time Frame: 1 year after completion of the program ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]This outcome measures level of interest in agriculture, attempts to engage in agriculture, perceptions of agriculture, and level of willingness to invest in agriculture.
- Level of Social Support and Quality of Social Relations [ Time Frame: 1 year after completion of the study ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]The outcome includes aggregate level of social support, quality of relationship with family and elders, advising, and peer groups.
- Aspirations and Future Planning [ Time Frame: 1 year after completion of the program ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]This outcome measures aspirations for the future and thinking about the future.
- Empowerment [ Time Frame: 1 year after completion of the study ] [ Designated as safety issue: No ]The outcome includes locus of control and making their own decisions.
|Study Start Date:||May 2009|
|Study Completion Date:||July 2011|
|Primary Completion Date:||March 2010 (Final data collection date for primary outcome measure)|
Experimental: agricultural training program
Three to four month residential agriculture and life skills training program.
Other: Agricultural and life skills training program
|No Intervention: Control group|
Poor and unemployed youth are widely considered a threat to political stability, often blamed for everything from fights to crime, riots and revolutions. Ex-combatants cause special worry. Not only do they have professional experience in warfare, and hence some comparative advantage in violence, but their social networks may also be dense with potential recruiters. War may also have left them poorer or more traumatized than their peers. Each of these factors could elevate the risk of rebellion, crime, or other aggression, risks greatest in weak states and uncertain economic climates like that of Liberia.
In response, policymakers commonly turn to employment and other poverty alleviation programs, including cash grants, vocational training, small business development, and microfinance. Underlying these programs is the belief that with economic opportunities come stability. When dealing with organized populations, such as former combatants, gang members, or criminal organizations, policymakers are also anxious to break down risky social networks, especially the links between commanders and foot soldiers. Interventions often go beyond simple employment programs, and seek to relocate, resettle, or otherwise remove high-risk individuals from risky networks.
This project evaluates a rehabilitation program for ex-combatants and other high-risk youth in Liberia, a unique case where it was both politically and practically feasible to establish and follow a random control group. The program we study, which was designed and implemented by the international non-governmental organization (NGO) Action on Armed Violence, is among the best of its class. The program is targeted towards ex-combatants and other high-risk populations in resource enclaves and other "hotspots" around the country. It provides extensive agricultural skills training and inputs alongside life skills training and resettlement assistance. Its objective is to reduce the risk of violence and aggression by providing an alternative, stable livelihood in civilian communities to youth otherwise engaged in illicit activities or thought to be easily mobilized into crime or violence. After observing two highly promising courses and classes of graduates, the researchers collaborated with the NGO to randomly evaluate their next round of classes at two training sites.
The program implementers confirmed that the number of youth eligible for the program exceeded program capacity by a factor of at least two. The sample size was limited to 2.5 times the number of spots in the program, for a total of 1500. In order to give all eligible youth an equal opportunity to participate, the program implementers determined entry into the program using a computerized randomization of eligible youth. Respondents were assigned to treatment and control using a randomization program coded in Stata. The sample was stratified by gender, "commander status," and community of registration.
The study has two principal rounds of data collection among both treatment and control groups: a baseline prior to the intervention and a follow-up survey approximately one year following completion of the program.
|Tumutu Agricultural Training Program|
|Salala, Bong County, Liberia|
|Sinoe Agricultural Training Program|
|Panama, Sinoe County, Liberia|
|Principal Investigator:||Jeannie Annan, Ph.D.||International Rescue Committee|
|Principal Investigator:||Christopher Blattman, Ph.D.||Columbia University|