Navigating Challenges


Infrastructure Project Delivery in Conflict Zones



By Yamanta Raj Niroula, PMP

Kathmandu, Nepal


Managing infrastructure projects in conflict zones presents unique challenges and requires specialized approaches to ensure successful outcomes. This paper explores the distinct considerations, strategies, and best practices for managing infrastructure projects in complex environments affected by conflict. The initial focus of this study is to explore the existing body of knowledge on infrastructure delivery in conflict zones. The study aims to investigate the specific challenges of infrastructure delivery and provide a comprehensive understanding of the issues, including security risks, resource constraints, and logistical challenges. Subsequently, it stresses the critical role of strategic planning and the need for an adaptive project management approach that can address the challenges posed by the unpredictable nature of conflict zones. It highlights the importance of being able to adapt and respond to evolving circumstances in such challenging environments. The paper emphasizes the significance of stakeholder engagement and communication as vital components that foster transparency, trust, and project accountability. It discusses the importance of monitoring and evaluation in conflict-affected projects. It also highlights the importance of building resilient teams and leadership, accentuating the value of a supportive team culture. Additionally, it explores the aspects of risk management, emphasizing the need for contingency plans and flexible approaches to address the ever-changing conditions in conflict zones. Lastly, the paper concludes by drawing insights from brief case studies of infrastructure projects undertaken in conflict zones, showcasing valuable lessons learned and best practices.

Keywords: project delivery, conflict zones, challenges, strategic planning, risk management, adaptive project management, stakeholder engagement, communication, monitoring and evaluation, resilient teams, leadership, adaptability, lessons learned, best practices, sustainable development.

  1. Introduction

Conflict has been a significant factor in shaping civilizations throughout history, arising from several factors such as political differences, resource disputes, and ethnic tensions. In recent years, the global landscape has witnessed a significant increase in conflicts of low and medium intensity.

According to the “Global Conflict Barometer” report published by the Heidelberg Institute for International Conflict Research (HIIK), there has been a steady increase in conflicts of low and medium intensity. In 2022, the HIIK recorded 363 violent conflicts, representing an increase of eight compared to the previous year. The number of large-scale armed conflicts increased from 20 in 2021 to 21 in 2022, with one war observed in Europe between Russia and Ukraine and another in the Americas due to inter-gang rivalry in Haiti (HIIK, 2023). Recently, a fresh military conflict erupted in Sudan on April 15, 2023. As of this writing, between 3,000 to 5,000 people have been killed and 6,000 to 8,000 others are injured while 2 million are internally displaced and 530,000 others have fled the country as refugees (Wikipedia, 2023). Important public infrastructure, such as hospitals, schools, transportation systems, and communication networks, have been severely damaged and require immediate and extensive reconstruction.

As noted by the Association for Project Management (APM), managing infrastructure projects in conflict zones or situations requiring humanitarian relief presents distinct challenges compared to conventional workplace environments (APM, 2022). While infrastructure projects in traditional workplaces are typically carried out under stable and predictable conditions with established project management processes, the circumstances in conflict zones can differ significantly.

Let us consider, for instance, a construction project aimed at rebuilding the infrastructure of a war-torn country, including schools, hospitals, roads, and water supply systems. Managing such projects in conflict zones entails navigating distinct complexities and risks, necessitating specialized approaches and strategies for success. Common challenges in managing infrastructure projects in conflict zones include security concerns, limited resource availability, political instability, cultural differences, and logistical and supply chain constraints.

This paper explores the complexities of managing infrastructure projects in conflict zones and provides practical guidance and strategies to help project managers overcome the associated challenges. By taking a holistic approach, infrastructure projects in conflict zones can play a vital role in rebuilding communities and supporting post-conflict recovery.


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How to cite this paper: Niroula, Y. R. (2023). Navigating Challenges: Infrastructure Project Delivery in Conflict Zones; PM World Journal, Vol. XII, Issue VII, July. Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/pmwj131-Jul2023-Niroula-infrastructure-project-delivery-in-conflict-zones.pdf

About the Author

Yamanta Raj Niroula

Kathmandu, Nepal


Yamanta Raj Niroula is an experienced engineering and project management professional with over 15 years of experience in overseeing all phases of construction and infrastructure projects.

He managed engineering and infrastructure projects across eight countries, namely Nepal, Maldives, Singapore, Afghanistan, Philippines, Nigeria, Yemen, and Sudan. His portfolio includes the successful implementation of multiple infrastructure projects in conflict-affected areas of Afghanistan, Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen. In these challenging locations, he worked with UN World Food Programme (WFP), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). His skill set includes contract and construction management, planning, scheduling, and project controls.

He holds a Master’s degree in Rural Development and Bachelor’s degree in Civil Engineering. He obtained the Project Management Professional (PMP) certification in January 2011. Currently based in Kathmandu, Nepal, he can be reached at niroulayr@gmail.com.