Post-conflict Reconstruction - A Case Study in Kosovo: The Complexity of Planning and Implementing Infrastructure Projects
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Background: Rehabilitation and reconstruction of social and economic infrastructure in a post-conflict environment are complex, long-debated issues in development cooperation. In addition to war creating large-scale human suffering, generating refugees, displacing populations, engendering psychological distress, obliterating infrastructure and transforming the economy, in post-conflict situations, deepening chaos and disorder can be found at the highest social, economic and political levels; serious developmental challenges remain insufficiently addressed. Repairing war-damaged infrastructure in order to reactivate the local economy is a challenge for all post-conflict countries. Methods: The study was designed to examine planning and execution of post-conflict reconstruction (PCR). The use of a mixed-method research approach combining both quantitative and qualitative data collection was used to explore planning and implementation of PCR infrastructure projects in Kosovo. The data collection in the field was undertaken for a period of eight weeks, from July to September 2008. A total of 420 respondents were involved in the study process, as follows: key informants (4), pilot test (12), semi-structured interviews (36), Project Manager/Engineers Survey (231), Chief of Mission/Country Director survey (117), and focus group (20). To meet the needs of society and recognise the required functional components of project management, the overall contexts of managing projects in a post-conflict environment have been discussed in the study.Results: Planning and implementing reconstruction projects in areas affected by conflict have proven to be far more challenging than expected and responses by practitioners, aid agencies, and government regarded as inadequate. The changing political, economic, and social factors in Kosovo have had a significant influence on the limited adoption of a project management methodology in development and reconstruction projects. The findings from the exploratory study were aimed at improving understanding of the planning, pre-designing, and implementation of infrastructure projects. The findings indicated a need to promote a better understanding of how projects are undertaken at all levels of the organization, and to describe processes, procedures, and tools used for the actual application of projects. The findings of the study identified a poor quality of planning and implementation of reconstruction projects in an environment of complexity, change, and uncertainty. The study also raised some very significant findings for a broader approach to community involvement in project identification, planning, and implementation. Infrastructure projects implemented in Kosovo were used to develop a conceptual framework for designing projects and programs more likely to yield positive outcomes for society.Conclusion: The concept of managing post-conflict reconstruction and development projects according to internationally-accepted project management processes is a relatively new and developing field. The findings demonstrated that success in PCR depends on the ability to understand the complexities of the political environment, to coordinate projects in an effective manner, and involve a wide range of community stakeholders. Consultations among key stakeholders with a direct relationship to the project are critical to ascertain what they perceive as essential components of project planning systems and processes to achieve beneficial social and economic change.
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