Conflict Analysis and Responses, West Africa

Primary purpose

Conflict analysis. It provides an analytical and action framework, which will help plan preliminary responses to early warning.

Intended users

Diplomatic and development actors, mainly desk officers and policy makers in foreign policy and development departments. Indigenous and international NGOs engaged in early warning.

Levels of application

Country level, although an adaptation of the methodology to look at local conflicts has also proven useful.

Conceptual assumptions

The methodology is designed as a “quick tool”, which can provide insight into overall trends. It is not meant as a substitute for more sustained conflict analysis, monitoring and consultations.

The key assumption is:
“(a) Conflict trends – (b) peace trends +/- (c) stakeholder trends = overall trends.

Main steps and suggested process

Conflict analysis consists of four broad steps:

1. analysis of conflict indicators (root causes, proximate causes and conflict triggers in the areas of politics/security, economy and socio-culture)

2. analysis of peace indicators (systems, processes and tools sustaining peace in a given society, in the areas of politics/security, economy and socio-culture)

3. stakeholder analysis (agenda/power, needs and actions of stakeholders in areas of politics/security, economy and socio-culture)

In each of these three areas, the analyst is asked to establish linkages and synergies between the indicators/stakeholders identified and build three scenarios (best-case, status-quo, worst-case)

4. summary analysis: using the above formula, the predominant trends in the areas of conflict and peace indicators as well as among stakeholders are brought together to determine overall conflict trends. Again, three overall scenarios are formulated.

The methodology can be used for a desk study or to facilitate a conflict analysis workshop. Participants mainly draw on their existing knowledge of the conflict, little new research is required.

Guiding questions / indicators

For illustrative purposes, the methodology contains an extensive list of conflict and peace indicators for the Caucasus and the Great Lakes Region, which were generated during FEWER’s early warning activities.

Required resources

Modest resources are required for desk study, workshop or trainings based on the methodology.

Current applications

WANEP has been using this methodology internally for their own peacebuilding work, as well as training with other actors in most countries in West Africa (Nigeria, Niger, Ghana, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Senegal, Gambia) and ECOWAS. WANEP has developed numerous policy briefs including briefs on Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, and Liberia. Policy briefs are targeted broadly at various levels, including governments, the UN, ECOWAS, the EU and international NGOs. Their methodology has also been applied in the form of a training of trainers in East Africa.

The UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) also asked WANEP to work on the provision of training on conflict methodologies, based on the FEWER/WANEP/CCR approach and experiences.

Lessons learnt

– Good analysis is appreciated by stakeholders, including policy makers, and allows track 1 at national level to be influenced in positive ways by track 2 peace-building and conflict prevention activities. In Côte d’Ivoire, the policy briefs produced by the West Africa Early Warning and Response Network (WARN) impacted on the Makousis and Accra Accords.

  • Good analysis is appreciated by stakeholders, including policy makers, The conflict analysis tool provides a standard tool which facilitates the production of easily-digested policy briefs.
  • The tool has served a useful purpose in supporting the engendering of early warning systems in West Africa.
  • With the use of this approach, good conflict analysis enabled various assessments at various levels, from community to national levels. In turn, strategic programme planning and intervention processes were well facilitated. These valuable lessons emerged from civil society intervention programmes in Sierra Leone.
  • In situations where violence had escalated, facilitating a conflict analysis amongst primary and secondary conflict stakeholders brought about clarity in terms of appreciating outstanding issues and working collaboratively to resolve the issues.
  • Many conflicts in West Africa thrive on conflict systems that are located across national borders. Conflict analysis has influenced policy making to appreciate regional approaches to conflict prevention rather than limiting these approaches to what appear to be internal conflicts.

Although primarily designed for country level conflict analysis, the experience of applying the methodology has shown that in countries such as Nigeria and Ghana conflicts are more localised, but with the potential for national destabilisation. The adaptation of the methodology to look at such local level communal conflicts has proved useful.

Available reports

The conflict analysis and response definition approach, as well as related policy briefs are available at