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Microfinance Amid Conflict: Taking Stock of Available Literature

Organization(s): 
Chemonics International
Author(s): 
Geetha Nagarajan
Michael McNulty
Institutional Sponsor: 
United States Agency for International Development
Publication date: 
Friday, August 13, 2004
The "Microfinance Amid Conflict" research, funded by USAID under AMAP, is one of the nine knowledge generation topics implemented by the Chemonics Consortium. This research intends to produce literature for practical use on why, when and how to respond with various types of microfinance products and services that meet clients' demand in diverse conflict situations.

As part of the research, we conducted a detailed search in February 2004 of available literature on microfinance in conflict areas. Through web search and personal contacts, we gathered a total of 84 documents produced since 1996 that directly addressed the issues related to mitigating and managing conflicts using microfinance as a tool. Of this, we selected 38 recent key documents that relate to the specific issues we plan to address during the course of the research.

We reviewed the selected documents for existing views on the role of microfinance in conflict areas; conditions for initiating microfinance; microfinance products and services suitable for various conflict settings and special population groups such as returnees, refugees, demobilized soldiers, widows, and youth; institutional types; risk management and coping mechanisms used by clients; and special challenges in operating in conflict areas versus in stable areas.

The stock taking exercise helped to identify areas that have already been examined with clear outcomes, areas that are examined but require further analysis and areas that have yet to be examined. The exercise guided us to target gaps in the available literature for practical use in conflict areas.

In this document, we have very briefly summarized the highlights with a reference document hyperlinked wherever possible to relevant websites so that the information can be more easily accessed in the future. A companion piece to this document discusses the existing gaps that require further examination through this and future research to help successfully operate microfinance in conflict areas.