The Asia Foundation | The Contested Corners of Asia: A Visual Companion

Cumulative Aid
to SNC Provinces
Cumulative Aid Flows
Heidelberg Intensity level

    International Aid Flows

    Aid Flows and Conflict Intensity from 2001 to 2010

    The international community has provided nearly US$ 7.7 billion in official development assistance to subnational conflict areas in Asia from 2001 to 2010, however, most of this assistance has not been explicitly focused on conflict issues. Although aid programs are often justified on the basis of contributing towards long-term peace and security, nearly 88% of aid programs focus on traditional development sectors such as infrastructure, economic development, and service delivery. And many traditional aid programs make little meaningful effort to adapt to conflict conditions.

    Despite significant funding, the overall impact of international assistance on subnational conflict is unclear. In Aceh, the international community played a constructive and important role through aid programs that supported the 2005 peace agreement. But in Sri Lanka, Mindanao, Baluchistan, and southern Thailand, it is difficult to tell whether aid programs have made any positive difference at all.

    Click on the timeline below to see how aid flows have been directed to subnational conflict regions and their respective countries.

    Additional Insight

    International development assistance can help to end subnational conflict, but doing so requires working in very different ways from the standard approaches.In subnational conflict areas, much of the conventional wisdom on how aid contributes to peace does not reflect reality. Some of the core objectives of development assistance—increasing economic growth, strengthening government capacity, and improving service delivery—do not seem to help reduce or end subnational conflicts. In some cases, they tend to exacerbate the drivers of conflict. Indeed, many of the lessons that the aid community has learned from its engagement in fragile states— most notably the need to strengthen and extend the reach of state institutions—can be counterproductive in subnational conflict areas. Without paying close attention to the dynamics of the conflict, development programs can reinforce conditions that prolong conflict.

    The aid data on this page was acquired from a variety of primary sources. The data are conservative estimates of aid flow. For aid flow to subnational conflict regions, we cannot determine how much of that aid goes directly to the peace process and how much goes to other development programs. It is also difficult to determine how much aid flow, if any, is diverted from other regions to the subnational conflict region, and vice versa.

    The Heidelberg Conflict Barometer was used to map conflict intensity across the region. This scale ranks conflict intensity on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 indicating a non-violent, low intensity conflict and 5 being a violent, high intensity war. Though conflicts may not be rated for certain years, this does not mean the conflict has ended. Instead, it should be considered as a year when conflict intensity was not measured to be at level 1. For more information on this measurement, please visit The Heidelberg Conflict Barometer website.

Annual Aid Flows