Quantellia announces release of The System Dynamics of Aid: Understanding the Carter Center's CJA Program in Liberia

by Lorien Pratt 28. January 2014 00:44

In the fall of 2012, Quantellia was approached by The Carter Center to study a breakthrough program in Liberia. The Carter Center was The System Dynamics of Aidusing Community Justice Advisors (CJAs)—legal paraprofessionals from local communities—to support plaintiffs and defendants as they navigated through two legal systems in Liberia:  the "formal", or Monrovia-based state-run system; and the "customary" system used in more rural areas.

Since the ultimate goal of this program was peacebuilding, Quantellia built a systems model to explore how spending dollars on this approach, which had substantially lower infrastructure costs than more centralized programs, could help the country to "do more with less", and to move from a "vicious cycle" of conflict to a "virtuous cycle" of economic prosperity and peace.

This paper, and the model shown in the video above, contains our findings. Interestingly, the model showed that a consistent injection of aid along a number of fronts was necessary to overcome the "energy" in state space to move from one phase to another of this complex system. After this injection, the system can become self-sustaining under certain conditions. However, if the aid is not timed correctly, then the system enters a third state of "catch-up", where government money is exhausted on peacekeeping, and is not available for other purposes as the democracy grows. This proof-of-concept model shows these and other dynamics, indicating that this might be the reality in Liberia; extensions include connecting the model to accurate data and cause-and-effect connections.


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