Landmines and Spatial Development

Wednesday, 11 July, 2018
Landmine contamination affects the lives of millions in many conflict-ridden countries long after the cessation of hostilities. Yet, little research exists on its impact on post-conflict recovery. In this study, Chiovelli, Michalopoulos and Papaioannou (2018) explore the economic consequences of landmine clearance in Mozambique, the only country that has moved from "heavily-contaminated" in 1992 to "mine-free" status in 2015. First, they compile a dataset detailing the evolution of clearance, collecting thousands of reports from the numerous demining actors. Second, they exploit the timing of demining to assess its impact on local economic activity, as reflected in satellite images of light density at night. The analysis reveals a moderate positive association that masks sizeable heterogeneity. Economic activity responds strongly to clearance of the transportation network, trade hubs, and more populous areas, while the demining-development association is weak in rural areas of low population density. Third, recognizing that landmine removal reconfigured the accessibility to the transportation infrastructure, the authors apply a "market-access" approach to quantify both its direct and indirect effects. The market-access estimates reveal substantial improvements on aggregate economic activity. The market-access benefits of demining are also present in localities without any contamination. Fourth, counterfactual policy simulations project considerable gains had the fragmented process of clearance in Mozambique been centrally coordinated, prioritizing clearance of the colonial transportation routes.