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Civil Society in Early Warning - The Experience of WANEPs National Early Warning System (NEWS) Presented by Chukwuemeka B. Eze: Program Director, WANEP.

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Presentation on theme: "Civil Society in Early Warning - The Experience of WANEPs National Early Warning System (NEWS) Presented by Chukwuemeka B. Eze: Program Director, WANEP."— Presentation transcript:

1 Civil Society in Early Warning - The Experience of WANEPs National Early Warning System (NEWS) Presented by Chukwuemeka B. Eze: Program Director, WANEP At the ECOWAS Consultative Meeting on Establishment of National Early Warning Mechanism in the ECOWAS Member States 21 – 25 Oct Abidjan, Cote dIvoire

2 Presentation Outline Background Why CSOs in Early Warning Why NEWS Objectives of NEWS Scope of NEWS Structure of NEWS Benefits of NEWS Sustainability of NEWS Challenges of NEWSP What is CS and Why CSs in Early Warning Conclusion

3 Background Background The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding Early Warning and Early Response Program, WARN, focuses on enhancing human security in West Africa by detecting and preventing conflicts that could turn violent; prevent or mitigate on-going conflicts from further escalation; working with countries in post conflict stages to ensure that never again should there be relapse to violence. The institutionalization of early warning (particularly community-based early warning) as an integral part of peacebuilding has yielded tremendous dividends and constituted the basis for the WANEP-ECOWAS partnership for conflict prevention that has existed since 2002.

4 Background Background The establishment of a National Early Warning System (NEWS) across all WANEP networks in West Africa has been long in the pipeline of WANEP to strengthen the Warning and Response Network (WARN) programme since the commencement of the programme in 2000 as part of its conflict prevention and peacebuilding regime. In West Africa, the presence and penetrative powers of the State are limited and hardly reach remote communities that are at risk of both man-made and natural catastrophes including violent conflict. In light of the state of affairs in West Africa, WANEP regards the establishment of a robust early warning system not as a project with a short to medium life-span but as an institution to be professionalised and sustained with the aim of contributing towards the enhancement of human security and socio-economic development; hence the need for the NEWS.

5 Why CSO involvement in Early Warning? WANEP believes that the best and most sustainable peacebuilding approach is that which is locally generated and externally supported The objective of a people-centred EWS is to empower individuals and communities threatened by violent conflicts to act in sufficient time and in an appropriate manner to reduce the possibility of personal injury, loss of life and damage to property and the environment. A complete and effective EWS comprises of four inter-related elements, spanning knowledge of violence/hazards and vulnerabilities through to preparedness and capacity to respond. Best practices for an early warning system requires strong inter-linkages and effective communication channels between all of the elements.

6 Why CSO involvement in Early Warning? Knowledge of Existing Risk: Risks arise from the combination of hazards and vulnerabilities at a particular location. Assessments of risk require systematic collection and analysis of data and should consider the dynamic nature of hazards and vulnerabilities that arise from processes such as youth bulge, population growth, availability of arms, urbanization, rural land-use change, environmental degradation etc. CSO usually follow up on this and have better insights on them Monitoring Service: Continuous monitoring of conflict trends and precursors is essential to generate accurate warnings in a timely fashion. Warning services for different conflicts should be coordinated where possible to gain the benefit of shared institutional, procedural and communication networks. This gives the impetus for the training of a pool of CSOs community monitors to perform this function on the basis of their knowledge of local contexts.

7 Why CSO involvement in Early Warning? Reporting and Communication: Warnings must reach those at risk and those with capacity to avert and or cushion the effect of such situations. Clear messages containing simple, useful information are critical to enable proper responses that will help safeguard lives and livelihoods. This includes using early warning data to develop policy briefs, communicating incidents and situations on a regular basis. CSOs are well positioned to perform this function based on its proximity to communities The use of multiple communication channels is necessary to ensure as many people as possible are warned, to avoid failure of any one channel, and to reinforce the warning message.

8 Why CSO involvement in Early Warning? Response Capacity and Capability: Early Warning without Early Response could be counterproductive. It is therefore essential that communities understand their risks; respect the warning and know how to react when such issues leading to violence erupt. Education and preparedness programmes play a key role. It is also essential that conflict management plans like community mediation, negotiation and other dispute resolution mechanisms are in place and rooted in the community institutions. The community should be well informed on options for and how best to avoid damage and loss to property. This is the basis of WANEP and CSOs peacebuilding initiatives across the region.

9 In summary, CSO involvement in Early Warning is Essential.... Because CSOs are aware of events as they unfold, they can make important contributions to early warning They can act swiftly and flexibly to respond to conditions as needed, often using innovative and non-coercive strategies and quality processes to address problems CSOs can act when-for various reasons-official actors are immobilised (often related to mandates, lack of political will or the implications conveyed by their official status)

10 Why NEWS? The fragility of peace and stability in the West African region demands vigilance and close monitoring of the state of security. Besides, current conflicts centres around the communities in form of intra states rather than interstate conflicts while future conflict will be around the environment and scare resources owing to global climate change and governance. The conditions in rural communities will be more exacerbating due to lack of information. NEWS is created to complement and reinforce the ECOWAS Warning and Response Network (ECOWARN). NEWS strives to respond to critical demands for pertinent information relating to human security and violent conflict especially at local community level. Vital information at community level that goes uncollected and unreported is needed for the purposes of conflict prevention.

11 Why NEWS…? According to the ECOWAS Conflict Prevention Framework (ECPF), conflict prevention is defined as: Activities designed to reduce tensions and prevent the outbreak, escalation, spread or recurrence of violence. Conflict prevention strategies may distinguish between operational prevention (measures applicable in the face of imminent crisis) and structural prevention (measures to ensure that crises do not arise in the first place or, if they do, that they do not re-occur). The emphasis is not on preventing conflict per se (conflict being a natural consequence of change) but in halting its descent into violence.

12 In other words, the goal of ECPF, to which WANEP subscribes, is not to prevent peaceful conflict but rather violent, armed and destructive conflict that takes away innocent lives, threatens to tear apart communities, retards socio-economic development, destroys centuries-old traditional and cultural values, and perpetuates the culture of violence for generations to come. To undertake both operational and structural prevention, the need for vital early warning information cannot be emphasised enough. Nonetheless, the current ECOWARN structure by itself cannot meet this challenge in terms of its scope and magnitude. ECOWARN is more regional in character; as a result, it does not cater for the specificities and idiosyncrasies of individual country, which NEWS strives to capture. Moreover, there are only 15 civil societys focal points (one monitor per ECOWAS Member State) in addition to WANEPs four Zonal Coordinators and the staff at the WANEP Peace Monitoring Centre. In terms of personnel to carry out the information gathering and reporting, the current number is inadequate. With the advent of NEWS, the number of monitors will increase significantly as well as the volume of information gathered and reported per country. Why NEWS…?

13 Objectives of NEWS Develop of a pool of Conflict Monitors and Analysts across West Africa and link them to the ECOWAS Early Warning Mechanism at the various member states as well as the WANEP Peace Monitoring Centre in order to support the ECOWAS Commissions Situation Room at EWD; Build the capacity of civil society organizations to alert, mitigate, prevent and/or resolve violent conflicts at local levels and provided the state with the necessary support to do same; Consolidate the institutional capacity of WANEP in conflict prevention and collaborate with other inter-governmental bodies such as, AU, UN (OCHA), and other relevant partners to coordinate early warning and response efforts

14 Objectives of NEWS Foster collaborative relationships with/between civil society, think tanks, existing national, sub-regional/regional and international early warning, conflict prevention, and peacebuilding organizations. Share early warning reports, policy briefs, preventive instruments, mechanisms, tools, and strategies with partners, stakeholders, policy makers/actors potential interveners. Promote pro-active/preemptive and integrated approaches to conflict prevention and peacebuilding.

15 Geographical Scope West Africa

16 NEWS Framework Information Gathering Component –Development of Indicators –Data Collection Information Reporting Component –Incident Report –Situation Report –Analytic Report (Narrative, Graphs, Figures)

17 NEWS Structure

18 PMC WANEP Regional Office Accra ZC 1 Banjul NEWS Managers The Gambia, Senegal, Guinea Bissau, Cape Verde National Analysts. Community Monitors. ZC 2 Ouagadougou NEWS Managers Burkina Faso, Côte- d'Ivoire, Mali, Niger National Analysts. Community Monitors. ZC 3 Monrovia NEWS Managers Liberia, Ghana, Guinea, Sierra Leone National Analysts. Community Monitors. ZC 4 Cotonou NEWS Managers Benin, Togo, Nigeria National Analysts. Community Monitors. WANEP/EWD Liaison Office ECOWAS Comm - Abuja

19 Benefits of NEWS NEWS is the first civil society-led system across West Africa to provide information with the view of enhancing human security. Its products are disseminated as widely as possible. NEWS creates the platform for crowd-sourcing providing real time incident reports in time of humanitarian disaster at national level. NEWS provides ECOWARN with greater access to community-level information on security, which in turn (we hope) would feed into the Continental Early Warning system of the African Union.

20 NEWS informs interventions and programme designs of WANEP national networks and other interested civil society organisations to promote conflict resolution and peacebuilding in West Africa Under NEWS, WANEP has started conducting conflict census at predetermined intervals to measure the number of active and dormant conflicts in West Africa. The periodic conflict census tracks and provide figures as to whether West Africa is becoming more peaceful or violent with the number of conflict resolved or outbreak of violence reported respectively. Benefits of NEWS

21 Sustainability of NEWS The sustainability of NEWS rests squarely on its viability, credibility and results. For its viability, the system is cost-effective and user- friendly, and personnel are drawn from network members comprising of Community-based organisation (CBOs). For its credibility, the information provided will be of use and importance to governments, development, humanitarian and peacebuilding organisations, regional and international organisations and research institutions. The result of NEWS is to make tangible impacts in the enhancement of human security and peaceful communities at national and regional level. In short, the success and results of NEWS will ensure its sustainability.

22 Challenges Personnel Finance Timeliness Regularity of data collection and reporting Documentation of responses Follow-up Dissemination of products Results and Impacts

23 The primary role of outsiders is to create spaces and support inclusive processes that enable those directly involved to make decisions about the specific arrangements for addressing the causes of conflict. Outsiders must avoid actions that displace and undermine home- grown initiatives or that promote short-term objectives at the expense of long-term prevention. Peacebuilding and security can only be sustained if anchored on the people Concluding…….

24 NEWS is not just the provision of NEWS which journalists are better trained to do, it is not just about prophesy which Prophets are better placed to do, it is not just about alarm and indictment of the state which the Human rights communities are doing very well, Its is about early detection of risks, its analysis and communication in the form that will enable policy makers take timely and appropriate actions and also put responsibilities on CSOs as partners in progress While the Primary responsibility for conflict prevention rests with national governments and other local actors. Greater ownership is likely to result in a more legitimate process & sustainable outcomes. Conclusion


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