Surveying ex-combatants for The Atlantic Philanthropies
One of the most challenging survey jobs we have had to do was a sample survey of ex-combatants. Ex-combatants are an important group in any post-conflict society, but can exert influence way beyond their numbers in transitional and poor societies. The common assumption is that their role will be negative; but this is more often the result of their (real and/or feelings of) neglect rather than an agreed strategy and set of actions on the part of ex-combatants. Trained in conflict, sabotage, weapons use and the like, their negative potential is often emphasised. As a result, ex-combatants are often regarded as potentially deviant or recidivist. Alternatively, ex-combatants are cast as damaged, as victims, with frequent discussion of the psychological after-effects of their involvement in conflict.
The Atlantic Philanthropies commissioned Strategy & Tactics to carry out a survey of ex-combatants who fought during the struggle to bring democracy to South Africa. The study also included life stories of three individual ex-combatants with very different backgrounds, as well as case studies of ex-combatants in Zimbabwe and Kosovo and a background paper on the conflict in South Africa. The goal is to provide rich material for decision-makers, stakeholders and potential service providers who are interested in ex-combatants’ past and current experiences, as well as their needs, ambitions and aspirations. All the research materials are available at this website and at www.atlanticphilanthropies.org
Download the ex-combatant booklet and technical report here.