The Asia Foundation

The Asia Foundation

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Conflict and Fragile Conditions

Violent conflict and fragile governance present enormous challenges for development and security in Asia. In places where violence is widespread and government ceases to function, the pace of development falls dramatically and conditions can deteriorate to extreme levels. The Asia Foundation has a long history of programs in conflict-affected and fragile regions of Asia. Read Program Overview.

Theories of Change in Practice

Development experts across Foundation country offices are working alongside researchers from London School of Economics' Justice and Security Research Program (JSRP). Using the Theory of Change (ToC) approach to international development practice, the research collaboration integrates social science research findings into specific, tangible interventions for development practitioners. JSRP researchers have so far been hosted by Foundation country offices in Nepal, Sri Lanka, Timor-Leste, Philippines, Cambodia, and Pakistan. Learn more about the research collaboration and working papers. Read a news release on the recent conference in London.

Subnational conflict is the most deadly, widespread, and enduring form of violent conflict in Asia. It affects more than half the countries in South and Southeast Asia and more than 131 million people. Between 1999 and 2008, more people were killed in subnational conflicts in Asia than in all other forms of conflict combined. How can foreign aid help?

Click here for findings from The Asia Foundation's major study on subnational conflict: The Contested Corners of Asia.


The international community recognizes the urgent needs in conflict-affected and fragile regions and in these circumstances, has dedicated enormous resources to provide development and humanitarian assistance. But progress has been slow. Conflict-affected areas present some of the most difficult challenges for delivery of aid, and there is a heightened risk that aid can favor groups on one side of the conflict or indirectly benefit armed actors, which can make the situation worse. The key challenge for the international community is to develop new ways of working in these regions that responds to local conditions more effectively.

These problems are particularly serious at the sub-national level. Many of Asia's worst cases of instability, poor governance, and political violence are a direct result of subnational conflicts in remote or border regions. In these turbulent areas, governments tend to have very limited capacity and their authority is often challenged by armed non-state actors. Conflict-affected regions are usually home to disaffected minorities or marginalized populations that hold long-running grievances with the central government and political establishment.

The Asia Foundation has a long history of programs in conflict-affected and fragile regions of Asia, including in Afghanistan, Mindanao (Philippines), Nepal, Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Aceh (Indonesia), Southern Thailand, and Timor-Leste. The Foundation's long-term presence and extensive networks with local leaders, government, and organizations, allows us to interact with key actors and support programs in highly challenging and sensitive environments. This ongoing presence, combined with sophisticated analysis and country expertise, enables the Foundation to identify the critical issues, and design innovative, strategic programs that address conflict.

Foundation programs support local initiatives in the following areas:

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