PublicationsTopic index of systematic reviewsKnowledge pagesArmed conflict
Armed conflict
This page contains the findings of systematic reviews undertaken by review groups linked to the EPPI Centre

One review investigated provision for young children, in or near their country of origin, who had direct experience of armed conflict.These findings will also be of interest to schools with refugee children.[1]

  • There was statistically significant evidence that group interventions focusing on normalisation were beneficial in terms of psychosocial outcomes.  There was no evidence of effect on cognitive development.
  • The part played by children themselves in activities promoting the ‘normalisation’ of their daily living circumstances and strengthening their coping mechanisms, appeared crucial to the success of the interventions.
  • The development of problem-focused coping strategies was more effective than emotion-focused ones.

A review of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict zones and other humanitarian crises [2] found that most studies described interventions for survivors in post-conflict settings.  Few addressed prevention or the conflict context, and only one study specifically addressed a disaster setting. Seven different strategies to reduce sexual violence were identified: i) survivor care interventions; ii) livelihood initiatives (presumed to reduce women's vulnerability through financial independence); iii) community mobilisation; iv) personnel initiatives, eg. gender-specific recruitment; v) systems and security, predominantly firewood patrols or fuel alternatives; vi) interventions using a combination of these strategies; and vii) legal interventions. The review concluded that:

  • implementation of initiatives on the ground to address conflict and crisis related sexual violence remains very limited.
  • strategies may be more effective when they have multiple components, including survivor care and community engagement.
  • fuel provision/ patrols and well-enforced programmes to prevent sexual exploitation by peacekeepers may contribute to reducing sexual violence.
  • risk to women can increase where court processes or other programmes are delivered with inadequate attention to protection, stigma and the risk of retaliation.

A review of the political economy of education systems in conflict-affected countries [3] found the following:

  • The global security and peacebuilding agenda marginalises the potential of education to contribute to sustainable peacebuilding. There is a disconnect between peacebuilding and conflict practitioners and education specialists; both groups lack knowledge of each other’s fields, leading to silo approaches and missed opportunities. There is also a disconnect between actors in the humanitarian, development and security sectors, all of which have different approaches to the role of education.
  • There is a disjunction between a global educational agenda influenced by access, quality and efficiency and the peacebuilding needs of conflict-affected societies, e.g. addressing inequity, social cohesion and economic and political exclusion.
  • Educational interventions need to encompass cultural, political, religious and social contexts. Cross-sector collaboration between education departments and other agencies is necessary for change on key cross-cutting issues linked to peacebuilding.
  • Inattention to agency and voices of national/local actors undermines the possibility of sustainable outcomes and of addressing conflict-related social justice issues. There are also imbalances of power between global, national and local actors, which undermine the potential for local ownership of interventions and therefore opportunities for sustainable peacebuilding. A disjuncture between different types of political economy analysis results in different evaluations of the significance of global and local actors, and local political and cultural contexts.
  • The complexity of factors influencing the success of educational interventions revealed by political economy analysis makes them difficult for practitioners to address and to use to inform policies and programming. However, failure to do so is likely to undermine technical solutions.


1. How effective are measures taken to mitigate the impact of direct experience of armed conflict on the psychosocial and cognitive development of children aged 0-8? (2005)

2. What is the evidence of the impact of initiatives to reduce risk and incidence of sexual violence in conflict and post-conflict zones and other humanitarian crises in lower and middle-income countries? A systematic review (2013)

3. A rigorous review of the political economy of education systems in developing countries (2014)

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