Role of Early Warning Systems in Conflict Prevention in Africa: Case Study of the Ilemi Triangle
In the last four decades, the international peace agenda has been dominated by debates on conflict prevention. In Africa, the post-cold war era has witnessed a shift in emphasis from conflict management to conflict prevention. While conflict management focuses on armed aspects of conflict, conflict prevention endeavors to contain and resolve imminent conflicts by responding to visible signs and indicators. Essentially, the shift is necessitated by the shortcomings of the reactionary rather than proactive nature of conflict management approaches. Irrespective of the paradigm shift towards conflict prevention, Africa continues to witness persistent overt conflicts. This study therefore, primarily seeks to examine and analyze the role of early warning systems in conflict prevention in Africa. The adoption of early warning practice in conflict prevention has had its successes and failures. This clearly points out the need to scrutinize the current early warning systems available in Africa. Cases of success are evident in Sierra Leone, as well as the failure of the International community to contain the genocide in Rwanda. The study used the empirical case of the Ilemi Triangle; a conflict-hotspot contested by South Sudan, Ethiopia and Kenya. This region is distinguished by the prevalence and persistence of armed conflict typified by both intra-state and inter-state wars. These conflicts have since gained renewed interest due to prospects of oil and other minerals. The study utilizes conflict prevention theory propounded by Michael S. Lund. Lund contends that the success of conflict prevention is contingent to the following three assumptions: early response to manifestations of danger; an all-inclusive, coordinated process to mitigate tension or threats to violence; and concerted attempts to transform the root causes of violence. This study therefore, is based on the assumption that, weak early warning systems lead to conflict escalation. Hence, the study involved conducting a survey research with the Ilemi Triangle as a case study. The sample population comprised of 316 adult male and female from the Turkana, Didinga, Toposa, Nyangatom and Dassanech pastoral communities that straddle the Ilemi Triangle. The research employed both qualitative and quantitative research techniques which comprised of data collected by use of questionnaires, focus group discussions, interviews and observation. The data collected was then analysed using a combination of qualitative and quantitative methods. The findings of this survey indicate that the persistence of overt conflicts in Africa is majorly caused by: marginalization; lack of official state presence; environmental scarcity (water, pasture and land for growing crops); disputed boundaries; and, long standing hatred between ethnic communities. From the research findings, it is evident that, violence is preventable and that emergences of early warning systems have a positive impact on conflicts in Africa. The study further points out that, strengthening and contextualizing existing early warning systems will lead to a significant reduction of conflicts in Africa. As such, this study is a contribution to the academia and policy on possible ways of strengthening the available early warning systems in Africa. Future researches need to delve deeper into methodologies of incorporating people at the grass-roots in the contextualization and operationalization of early warning systems.
The following license files are associated with this item: