A new analytical tool which could be very useful for estimating the true cost of political violence.
Researchers from King’s College London and University College London have published a methodology in last week’s PLoS Medicine, which they are calling the “Dirty War Index”. The tool is intended to help identify the rate of “dirty” war outcomes for conflicts, including torture, child injury, and civilian deaths.
This relates to the forecasting work HFP recently completed for Oxfam UK estimating the numbers of climate change and conflict affected people’s worldwide in 2015. One of the key problems in that project was estimating total deaths and numbers affected by political violence, as most conflict databases only report official combatant deaths. Leaving aside the thorny issue of undercounting and political manipulation of these numbers, there are very few ways of estimating the total number of people affected by violent conflict. For our project with Oxfam UK, we used a ratio of combatant mortality to internally displaced peoples (IDP’s) and refugees to estimate the total numbers affected. Combining this with the “Dirty War Index” would have been a very useful step and will likely be incorporated in future drafts of that work.
The paper can be downloaded for free here.