Area-based Programming in Fragile- and Conflict-affected Contexts

19th November 2021
Author: Huma Haider

Area-based programming (ABP) is an approach that defines an area as the primary entry point, rather than a sector or target group. It is particularly appropriate in areas with complex, inter-related and multi-sectoral needs (USWG, 2019). Evaluations of ABP suggest that such an approach can be effective in responding to complex conflict characteristics on sub-national levels (UNDP, 2018). Despite growing interest in ABP, evidence is still greater for sectoral or issue-based approaches.The adoption of area-based approaches in cross-border rural areas of the Western Balkans are some of the earliest of such interventions discussed and evaluated. There has in recent years been an increase in discussion and case studies of the application of ABP in urban settings. This rapid literature review looks at area-based approaches in rural and urban settings, focusing on Afghanistan, along with a brief look at examples from Syria, Lebanon, Mauritania, and the Western Balkans. It draws out collective strengths, factors of success, and weaknesses and challenges from these country and regional programmes. It concludes with a list of lessons and recommendations.

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Suggested Citation

Haider, H. (2021). Area-based programming in fragile- and conflict-affected contexts. K4D Helpdesk Report 1066. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies, DOI: 10.19088/K4D.2022.011


19th November 2021


Continent: Global

Country: Afghanistan, Lebanon, Mauritania, Syria