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A framework for measuring human security in conflict-zones

a meso-level approach

Neela Mukherjee
Madhumita Parihari
Paschim Midnapore


In recent times ‘human security’ has gained much attention in research and policy-making its link with poverty and development. It has been stated that there can be ‘no security without development and no development without security’ and there is no doubt that deadly conflict causes poverty and immiseration for exploring. Violent conflicts may have their origins in human insecurity: where insecurity is linked to exclusion and lack of access to resources and power34. Hence, keeping track of human security becomes an important pre-requisite for sustainability of any development process. Lack of human security could imply stalling of development activities, fall in physical safety, fall in growth and investment, decline in human capacity, all pervasive uncertainty and lack of societal well being. Such implied costs are heavy for any society and also for the individuals in that society and need to be avoided/pre-empted to the extent possible.

One core issue in such policy research is how to measure human security and keep track of related changes for adopting appropriate policy-stance, strategy and actions. It is in this regard that the present paper attempts to measure human security based on a basket of nine generic criteria as follows: (i) Food security; (ii) Personal security and mental peace; (iii) Livelihoods security; (iv) Access to basic services; (v) Accessibility for communication and transport; (vi) Access to productive services and infrastructure, (vii) Access to social capital and social justice; (viii) Political Security, e.g., human rights, leadership; and (ix) Environment security.

Based on the above criteria, the paper constructs a specific measure of human security at the meso level for the tribal population of West Bengal. It adopts a mix of quantitative and qualitative framework for measuring human security and applies it to selected districts of West Bengal for an inter-comparison of those districts affected by armed conflict and violence and those not similarly affected. The quantitative and the qualitative data on the indicators/criteria lead to qualitative scores, which are then quantified to arrive at aggregate scores on human security in the area concerned and then analysed. The paper recommends construction of base line measures for human security as a pre-requisite any socio-economic development process and also suggests its periodic monitoring with regularity.


Publication Type(s)

Conference Paper

Ten Years of War Against Poverty Conference Papers

Conference: Ten Years of War Against Poverty


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