Civil Society Trained on Conflict Early Warning Tools

COMESA Secretariat working with the African Union Commission (AUC), the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and Regional Economic Communities have conducted a four-day training of trainers’ workshop for 12 countries on conflict prevention and peace building in the continent.

The workshop was conducted on 7 – 10 December in Nairobi, Kenya and focused on the AU’s Continental Early Warning System (CEWS) Africa Reporter Tool, the AU/COMESA Structural Vulnerability Assessments (SVAs), the COMESA Early Warning System (COMWARN) and the Country Structural Vulnerability and Resilience Assessment (CSVRA) methodology.

Twenty-four focal persons from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Comoros, Eswatini, Lesotho, Namibia, Angola, Mozambique, Seychelles, Madagascar, Zambia and Malawi attended the training. Representative from the Southern Africa Partnership for Prevention of Conflict (SAPPC) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) also part participated.

At the training, representatives from the AU, COMESA and UNDP called for enhanced collaboration with the civil society as it is crucial in conflict prevention and peace building. Specifically, civil society have contacts on the ground who can be very useful in conflict early warning by monitoring the situation and thus anticipate the emergence of conflicts.

Besides, civil society organisations (CSOs) are strong in research and analysis, that can benefit state-level interventions by providing information and policy options. They are also known to build consensus around negotiations thus providing quality analysis which can go a long way towards the success of the talks.

COMESA Head of Governance, Peace and Security Ms Elizabeth Mutunga said the workshop was necessary to maximise effectiveness of all the potential partners.

“Our workshop is designed to equip civil society with the tools that exist in our organisations so that as they work with us, we can all reap the greatest synergies. Apart from the training, this will be a wonderful opportunity to share experiences and learn from each other.”

The COMESA Peace and Security (GPS) Programme have nurtured strategic partnership with the Civil Society in conflict prevention and peace building since the programme was established in 2000.

GPS has conducted a study on the root factors of conflicts in the subregion to inform COMESA’s entry point into peace and security matters in the region.  The study and consultations found that conflicts were very complex and exhibited dynamism that called for use of multifaceted approaches and the actions of a wide variety of stakeholders working together to address them. Specifically, the consultations identified an important role for civil society organisations in all aspects of conflict prevention and peace building.

The West Africa Network of Peacebuilders (WANEP) from the Regional Office in Accra, Ghana and the Nigeria Country Network provided additional hands-on training based on their experience of field reporting using the Africa Reporter and the ECOWAS Early Warning (ECOWARN) Reporter.