Mainstreaming conflict


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Mainstreaming conflict

  1. 1. Mainstreaming Conflict Report for DFID Nigeria Fatima Adamu Akin Akinteye Kayode Fayemi Lanre Obafemi Tony Vaux (Team Leader) February 2004
  2. 2. Mainstreaming ConflictEXECUTIVE SUMMARYPurpose, background and methodologyThe purpose of this report is to advise DFID in Nigeria how to take account of the issueof conflict in all its activities and programmes –in other words to ‘mainstream conflict’.In 2002-3 DFID and other donors supported a process of conflict analysis conducted bythe Institute of Peace and Conflict Resolution, part of the Presidency. As required byDFID, that report (Strategic Conflict Assessment –Nigeria) forms the basis of theanalysis of conflict used by the current team, and in fact all the team members had beenassociated with that process. The timing of the mission was focused around DFID’srevision of its Country Assistance Plan for Nigeria.The basis of the methodology for the team during two weeks working together in Nigeriawas interview with DFID staff, other donors, government and civil society. The missionincluded visits out of Abuja to Jigawa, Kano and Benue States.DFID’s strategic reviewAs part of its strategy review, DFID has already undertaken extensive research which hasbeen brought together into a synthesis report- ‘Drivers of Change’. Overall the teamconsidered that this report presented an over-optimistic view of change processes inNigeria today, tending to assume that different entities and levels in society would worktogether, whereas conflict analysis indicates that there are profound divisive forces at theheart of governance and these influences spread out into practically all other issues. Inother words conflict is endemic to the Nigerian situation but DFID has not yetinternalised conflict sufficiently in its strategic planning.Programme Level Conflict AssessmentThe mission developed a set of Conflict Guidelines that DFID could apply to anyactivity. By observing this set of twelve principles, and reviewing them at different stagesof the project cycle, DFID should be able to ensure that it takes account of conflict andintegrates an understanding of conflict in its programmes. The headings are- 1. Focus on Governance 2. Inclusion and Exclusion 3. Politicisation of Issues 4. Impartiality and Neutrality 5. Aid in a competitive environment 6. Local Leadership 2
  3. 3. Mainstreaming Conflict 7. Women’s Leadership 8. Direct Delivery 9. The Private Sector 10. Assessment 11. Transparency 12. AccountabilityThe main weakness found in the sample of DFID programmes was a failure to supportwomen’s representation. Since women are likely to play a positive role in relation toconflict, considerably greater efforts in this are called for.Applying the Guidelines to StrategyThe critical issue for DFID in relation to conflict, especially when considering where itshould work in the future, is ‘Inclusion and Exclusion’. DFID should not simply considerthose who will be helped by its programme, but also those who are or might feelexcluded. In a context of fierce competition for resources and political corruption (asmodelled in the SCA) they may seek to weaken or undermine DFID’s work. Boundariesare a particularly notorious source of conflict in Nigeria and the choice of a particularState inevitably implies the rejection of another.Therefore, in choosing where it works DFID should seek to minimize such negativeoutcomes by working in a fluid regional manner across a selection of States. It shouldfocus on issues rather than boundaries, and it should identify possible risks and threats byconducting a regional conflict analysis using the above Guidelines.Similarly, the choice of one partner implies the rejection of others. In all its work DFIDshould seek to consult widely, identify those who may feel excluded and avoid hard andfast distinctions between partners and non-partners.Applying the Guidelines to direct conflict responseUnfortunately the response to conflict in Nigeria has often made matters worse becauseof an over-emphasis on military activity and the politicisation of government aid. Thisleaves an opening for DFID to take a preventive and mitigating role. It should supportEarly Warning mechanisms in Nigeria and develop its own impartial response. Such atwo-track approach, perhaps undertaken in collaboration with the Institute for Peace andConflict Resolution, might enable DFID to influence government positively. 3
  4. 4. Mainstreaming ConflictRecommendations • DFID Nigeria should re-model its understanding of the processes of change to take better account of conflicting elements and interests. • The Conflict Guidelines should be considered as the basic recommendations of this mission and should be reflected in strategy, programme management and procedures. • Particular attention should be paid to conflict analysis in the design of new programmes. Programme Level Conflict Assessment (PLCA) should be applied in a methodical manner then and at each stage of the project cycle. • As part of a long-term strategy related to conflict DFID should develop a programme to support women’s capacities for peace through education, skills development and leadership. • DFID should examine the extent to which the school curriculum and local teaching practice may exacerbate conflict. • In choosing its future areas of operation DFID should adopt an issues-based approach as far as possible and delineate its activities by region rather than by States. • Before embarking on such a regional programme DFID should undertake a Strategic Conflict Assessment. • DFID should focus on support to Early Warning systems and prevention rather than responses after conflict. It may be appropriate to work with IPCR on these issues, offering capacity building as necessary. • Where direct responses are necessary, the aim should be to work with others to reduce biases that may exacerbate the causes of conflict. • Conflict mediation should be viewed with caution and must be aligned to long- term rather than short-term solutions.February 2004 4
  5. 5. Mainstreaming ConflictMainstreaming Conflict: Report for DFID NigeriaJanuary 2004FULL REPORTCONTENTSAcronymsIntroductionSection One: Change and Conflict in NigeriaSection Two: Conflict Guidelines for DFID NigeriaSection Three: Implications of the Guidelines for Country StrategySection Four: Implications for ResponsesSection Five: Conclusions and RecommendationsBIBLIOGRAPHYAnnex 1: Conflict Guidelines for Nigeria: basic textAnnex 2: Programme Level Conflict Assessment –a proposed methodologyAnnex 3: Specific DFID ProjectsAcknowledgementWe would particularly like to thank Jasmine Nsofor and Richard Butterworth forproviding all possible assistance to the mission. 5
  6. 6. Mainstreaming ConflictAcronymsCAP Country Assistance PlanDFID Department for International DevelopmentIPCR Institute for Peace and Conflict ResolutionJIR Joint Inception ReviewJWL Joint Wetlands Livelihoods ProgrammePLCA Programme Level Conflict AssessmentSCA Strategic Conflict AssessmentSLGP State and Local Government ProjectTOR Terms of Reference 6
  7. 7. Mainstreaming ConflictIntroduction1. The mission coincided with the later stages of developing a new Country Assistance Plan (CAP) for DFID in Nigeria. The Joint Inception Review (JIR), being finalised during the mission, recommends ‘an integrated strategy that sets out how programmes can enhance positive impact across a range of areas, including conflict reduction’1. Consequently, although the Terms of Reference (TOR) include both backward- looking (evaluation) and forward-looking (policy) elements, the team was requested to focus almost entirely on the latter and to evaluate current programmes only in so far as that was useful in relation to future policy. Accordingly the Review Team has focused mainly on developing a set of guidelines that DFID can apply to any current or future activity in order to ensure that it is sensitive to issues of conflict in Nigeria.2. The Team undertook interviews with a wide range of government, donors and civil society representatives and conducted a number of focus groups with stakeholders including village heads, representatives of traditional authority and NGOs. We have also drawn on extensive experience within the team itself, all of whom have been involved in the Strategic Conflict Assessment (SCA) and in extensive work on conflict issues. The Team comprised- • Dr Fatima L. Adamu, Usmanu Dan Fodiyo University, Sokoto • Honourable Akin Akintaye, Centre for Peace and Conflict Studies, University of Ibadan (former Member of the House of Assembly) • Dr J. Kayode Fayemi, Centre for Democracy and Development (Lagos and Abuja) • Mr Lanre Obafemi, Institute for Peace and Conflict Resolution, the Presidency • Mr Tony Vaux, Humanitarian Initiatives UK (Team Leader)3. The first week was spent in Abuja, after which the team divided into two groups for visits to Jigawa, Kano and Benue States.4. The mission was requested not to make a new analysis of conflict in Nigeria but to base its work on the SCA published by IPCR2. Accordingly the Team has conducted only a limited review of the literature on conflict in Nigeria but focused instead on policy documents and practice. The essence of the SCA analysis is contained in the following model (which unfortunately became distorted in the final published version of the report). Note that ‘political crisis’ is a euphemism for ‘political corruption’.1 TOR p22 IPCR (2003) –see bibliography 7
  8. 8. Mainstreaming ConflictModel of Conflict in Nigeria Ethnic Tension Indigene/Settler tensions International Economic Pressures Historical Factors InequalityInjustice Political Crisis Resource Competition Political ViolenceYouth Alienation Religious Tension 8
  9. 9. Mainstreaming ConflictSection One: Change and Conflict in Nigeria1.1. Updating the SCA5. Since the SCA process conducted in 2002 the situation has not improved. The elections in mid-May 2003 were seriously flawed and there is evidence that democracy is under considerable strain and human rights are widely abused3. Violent conflict has continued to erupt throughout the country following the usual lines of religious, ethnic and territorial division underscored by political corruption.6. The economic situation continues to be precarious. A high exchange rate for the Naira, boosted by oil revenues, is coupled with political corruption to create a situation in which fortunes are made through imports and local industry, employment and production declines. Nigeria seems unable to avoid ‘Dutch Disease’ and the results are translated into levels of poverty that are appalling even by the standards of sub-Saharan Africa. In short, all the various contributory factors in relation to conflict are at least as strong as they were at the time of the SCA.7. Recognising the disappointing results in terms of poverty alleviation following Nigeria’s return to democracy in 1999, DFID has undertaken a thorough review of change processes4. DFID recognises that its expectations after the end of direct military government in 1999 were too optimistic, but the mission considers that DFID still continues to be too optimistic in its analysis of processes of change. Put bluntly there is no reason to expect positive forces to prevail.8. In the current Nigerian context conflict is inevitable. It may have positive as well as negative outcomes, but change will not occur without conflict. Hopefully such conflict will be non-violent but where the obstacle is the entrenched interests of a corrupt elite it is hard to envisage a process that will be entirely peaceful. DFID’s task is not to seek to reduce conflict in all cases, but to manage the issue of conflict in order to achieve MDGs.1.2. The mission’s approach9. Following discussions with Richard Butterworth, Governance Adviser, the team has taken an approach that focuses on ‘mainstreaming the issue of conflict’ rather than ‘mainstreaming conflict prevention’ or ‘conflict reduction’. In doing so we have avoided an absolute distinction between ‘conflict’ and ‘violent conflict’ because it is impossible to predict with certainty when the one will transform into the other.3 See Human Rights Watch (2003)4 See Heymans and Pycroft (2003) 9
  10. 10. Mainstreaming Conflict10. The general theory behind the SCA is that the transformation from conflict to violent conflict is likely to occur when one issue becomes embroiled with another, and especially when corruption is involved. The SCA emphasises that religion, ethnicity, settler-indigene tensions, youth unemployment and so on are not really the causes of conflict in Nigeria but rather the issues over which political power struggles are contested. The root of the problem is the flow of oil money through channels that are incapable of managing those resources fairly. Conflict cannot be eradicated until governance is placed on a firmer footing.11. When politicians play out their competition for resources over issues such as religion, ethnicity and land tenure people are placed under extreme pressures that they may feel unable to escape except by violent means. In this delicate and volatile situation, donors have a responsibility to ensure that their interventions are weighed up not only against the outward manifestations of struggle but also against the underlying balance of power between corrupt elites and poor people excluded from the nation’s wealth. Poverty reduction will only be achieved when poor people are empowered to assert a stronger influence over the political system. But in this struggle, the negative forces are currently better organised and stronger than the positive ones.1.3. ‘Drivers of Change’ and the Country Assistance Plan512. DFID’s study ‘Drivers of Change’ focussed on deepening the understanding of Nigeria’s political economy – looking at the linkages between structures, processes, institutions and agents. In so doing, its conclusions questioned earlier assumptions that informed DFID’s work in Nigeria and proffered new assumptions that should assist the development of the new Country Assistance Plan (CAP). These include: a) advancing structural reform to enable fundamental change; b) ensuring that change agents are anchored to institutional change; c) noting that structural blockages are so profoundly negative for the poor that capacity improvement will make no serious difference; d) recognising that broad-based constituencies of support are key to creating a critical mass of support for change, and; e) recognising that strategic alliances and issue driven networks are necessary for change.13. On the basis of the above, the interim CAP seeks to focus on government as well as other actors through thematic, issue based approaches by strengthening accountability, improving service delivery and promoting pro-poor growth, Specifically, the medium term conflict strategy seeks to integrate conflict within the overall strategy by- a) promoting safety and security for communities; b) ensuring access to justice, c) strengthening the institutional capacity to analyse and address the structural causes of conflict and5 This section was written by Kayode Fayemi 10
  11. 11. Mainstreaming Conflict d) professionalising the Nigerian Armed Forces for a more effective peacekeeping role in the region.14. As they relate to conflict, the new assumptions in ‘Drivers of Change’ are subject to differing interpretations. On the one hand, it could be argued that they have glossed over the inevitability or likelihood of conflict in a civilian dispensation. Many of the respondents to our questions believe that democratic change ought to assume a certain level of conflict and do not necessarily see the various conflicts in the country as evident signs of democratic deficit. Instead, many take a long term view of conflict as a sign that democracy is maturing through the ‘opening up’ of previously ‘closed’ space for conflict generation, mediation, negotiation and resolution in the move from transition to transformation. To this end, it seems to us worthwhile to see strategic alliances as conflict generating as well as conflict resolving in the quest for democratic reform for pro-poor growth.15. Although the new assumptions are subject to differing interpretations, their implications are profound and potentially conflictual. The readiness to accept that structural blockages need to be tackled assumes an equal resolve on DFID’s part to mainstream conflict in a manner that might be unpalatable to beneficiaries of the current structural gaps. It is useful to reflect on the implications of this assumption and build complex scenarios for change, including the impact on conflict-averse poor communities likely to be affected by elite capture of the structural reform agenda.16. The first such implication for conflict mainstreaming is the need for more flexible, long term intervention modalities that are de-linked from funding pressures. This will require a Country Assistance Programme that treats security of the person as well as the state as inextricably interwoven as well as being a pre-requisite for development and poverty reduction. A programme that aims at strengthening demand as well as supply will be a priority in this respect.17. At the present time, there is a disjuncture in DFID’s programming aimed at promoting the necessary linkages between its support for the security of the individual and support for state security. On the one hand, our review of the current programmes reveals an ‘Access to Justice’ initiative that aims to localise security through the promotion of community policing and traditional justice mechanisms. On the other is the medium term conflict strategy which is more concentrated on strengthening Nigeria’s armed forces’ capacity for peacekeeping. There is an urgent need for synergy between the two programming areas which recognises the critical importance of supporting institutions, strengthening local responses and making social investments to reduce poverty, strengthen governance and promote security.18. The above requires not only a practical reformulation of programmes and projects; it calls firstly for a conceptual rethink around the best way to achieve pro-poor development without generating violent conflict in its wake. The core assumption that wealth would automatically be created through macro-economic stability when free market gains ascendancy has not been borne out by the Nigerian experience to 11
  12. 12. Mainstreaming Conflict date. Foreign investment has come in droves; debt burdens continue; commodity prices fluctuate; environmental degradation proceeds and industrialisation fails to occur. Instead, policies such as privatisation have not created local self sufficiency, but locked the poor further into relative powerlessness - creating conditions for conflict.19. A more complex understanding based on a nuanced analysis of complicated choices is still needed, one which stresses democratic governance as conflict management without exaggerating the impact likely to accompany effective democratic governance. In our view, even with the best management, DFID must recognise that Nigeria is a poor country, that ought to be treated as a state in conflict or emerging out of conflict, and thus in need of massive post-conflict reconstruction assistance if the MDGs are to be realised.20. It is commendable therefore that the interim CAP identifies the improvement of service delivery as a key strategic objective. As a conflict sensitive approach, we will suggest that DFID and HMG should pay greater emphasis on social safety nets and equity in addition to displaying greater sensitivity to the distributional impacts of all projects as a means of broadening the alliance for the structural reforms that are necessary.21. High quality information and analysis is critical to conflict sensitive approaches. The interim CAP correctly aims to support ‘Nigerian capacity to analyse and address the structural causes of conflict.’ To an extent, this information and analysis exists at various points within Nigeria and the SCA has tried to bring together the bulk of that information. However, significant gaps still exist because of the compartmentalisation of knowledge of conflict between issues and amongst professions.6 To address this, there is a need to support a range of institutions that can engage in serious and path- breaking information gathering and analysis at all levels - governmental, non- governmental and community level. As a complement to the above, there is an additional need to support the establishment of a forum that brings together all stakeholders (governmental, non-governmental, development partners and community actors) for sharing conflict analysis on a regular basis – helping to develop a dynamic analysis of conflict that all actors can feed on an on-going basis into respective strategy and programming.22. Beyond the stated assumptions guiding ‘Drivers of Change’, we did not get the impression on the field that DFID is keen to move away from the lowest common denominator of ‘do no harm’ in its quest for conflict mainstreaming. We believe DFID needs to display greater tolerance for risk-taking by developing and supporting projects which combine high risk opportunities with its base line ‘do no harm’ approaches in recognition of the relationship between conflict and governance.6 For example, our visit to Benue State revealed the inter-connected nature of conflict triggers in the Benuevalley – including Benue, Taraba, Plateau, Nasarawa, and demonstrates the need to develop regionalconflict complexes in response to common problems, a factor which received insufficient attention in theSCA. 12
  13. 13. Mainstreaming Conflict1.4. Modelling the process of change23. Instead of a model that focuses simply on the process of positive change as in the ‘Drivers of Change’ model7 we propose a more complex model that includes negative (anti-poor) as well as positive (pro-poor) forces-Figure: Change process in Nigeria Positive Positive Agents Institutions Positive Structural Features Negative Negative Negative Agents Institutions24. The above model positions ‘Structural Features’ at the centre of the picture and presents a system that is difficult to change because the positive and negative factors are likely to balance each other out rather than lead, as in DFID’s more optimistic model, in a positive direction. Indeed, things may have to get worse before they begin to improve.25. The model also leaves open the possibility of conflict at the interface between the positive and negative agents and institutions. The overall concept is one of poor7 Heymans and Pycroft p3 13
  14. 14. Mainstreaming Conflict people in alliance with others, but ranged against them are alliances of more negative forces. Both ‘sides’ struggle to turn the ‘Structural Features’ to their interest.26. Because of the obstacles to change as shown in the model, conflict cannot be viewed as an intrinsic evil. Where it represents an attempt by poor people to increase their power, conflict may be necessary. This means that the concept of conflict prevention is problematic in Nigeria today. At this stage a certain amount of conflict is necessary to transform the state, but conflict that goes beyond certain limits (and generally this means where it involves violence) will be counter-productive for poor people.27. For DFID the emphasis should be on ‘conflict management’, rather than ‘conflict prevention’. By implication this means that Security Sector Reform should be less prominent than envisaged in DFID’s current ‘medium term conflict strategy’8. Conflict in Nigeria will not be addressed simply by improving the security response. The root causes can only be reached by fundamental change; greater efficiency in restraining public concerns could even be counter-productive.28. In conclusion, we feel that DFID’s current understanding is still too optimistic, and too much based on consensus and cooperation rather than struggle to change the balance of power. In terms of programme planning we recommend greater efforts to inform, empower and mobilise poor people to oppose poverty. JWL is an example of this kind of approach, but we are concerned that unless it is backed by a wider organisational analysis it may founder when real challenges occur. While this may seem a radical approach it is based on the view that less radical approaches have been tried, tested and failed.8 Country Assistance Plan Headlines August 2003 p31 14
  15. 15. Mainstreaming ConflictSection Two: Conflict Guidelines for Nigeria29. The particular set of Conflict Guidelines developed for Nigeria are not the same as would be used in a country without such underlying problems. They focus strongly on issues of inclusion and exclusion because of the exclusive nature of current Structural Features. They encourage strategies that transfer power towards poor people in alliance with other more favourable elements but always recognise that neutralising the negative forces is just as important as seeking alliances with positive ones.30. The following are the Conflict Guidelines proposed for Nigeria with an explanation and commentary on them9. Although written with DFID in mind they are expressed in a form that may be applicable to other aid agencies. The Guidelines are divided into three sections- Strategy, Programme Responses and Processes-STRATEGYGuideline One: Focus on GovernanceIn accordance with the government’s Strategic Conflict Assessment, the strategic focusshould be to address the interaction of ‘political crisis’ and ‘competition for resources’that lies at the heart of most conflicts in Nigeria -rather than its manifestations in socialand economic issues. It should be recognised that change may be impossible without alevel of conflict.31. As DFID policy analysis indicates, the current context of Nigeria is highly unsatisfactory. The root cause of poverty as well as conflict lies in the political malaise. MDGs will not be attained without improvements in governance but these improvements will entail considerable shifts in power and resources that are unlikely to take place without conflict. The aim therefore is not to eradicate conflict per se but to avoid those manifestations in which poor people fight against each other and channel energies around those that advance the position of the poor in relation to the exclusive elite.32. In general this means a strategic focus on empowering poor people rather than making adjustments between elite groups. Aid agencies must be aware of their limitations. If there is little alternative to ‘direct action’, the aid agency must not become an obstacle. This should not deter agencies from engaging in controversial and sensitive issues, but there must be an ‘exit strategy’ whereby they can hand over to other actors without distorting or undermining processes of change. NGOs in particular may have considerably fewer limitations in respect of these issues than bilateral donors.9 For the basic text of the Guidelines (only) see Annex 1 15
  16. 16. Mainstreaming Conflict Box 1: Mobilisation in the wetlands of Jigawa Because of bureaucratic inefficiencies and fierce political competition the people of the wetlands suffer unnecessarily from flood and drought. Sometimes channels silt up, blocking the flow of water and causing loss of crops. But the people are not supposed to open them without the permission of the authorities. One group of villagers was so frustrated that they were considering ‘direct action’ – opening up the channel by their own voluntary labour. They came to the JWL project and were advised to work closely with the traditional leaders, and by that means secure support from the river basin authority. The issue became tense because of communication problems and mistrust, but at the time of our visit it seemed likely that the authority would take the necessary action. But the question remains –at what point is ‘direct action justified and what is the position of DFID if the people feel that they must go outside the strict parameters of the law? Tony VauxGuideline Two: Inclusion and ExclusionCompetition for power and resources has become particularly fierce in the currentcontext of political corruption. Those who feel excluded are likely to take action to asserttheir interests. Therefore any strategy for change must fully recognise the negative aswell as the positive forces.33. Conflict is likely to arise because of perceptions of injustice in the allocation of resources. Such conflicts are endemic to Nigeria because the flow of oil funds raises the stakes considerably and makes government behave like a ‘donor’ rather than an accountable institution. This leaves the field open for intense competition and manipulation among the recipients. Much of this competitive behaviour is designed to undermine opponents rather than make a positive case.34. Similar processes affect aid funds. Donors have a heavy responsibility to ensure not only that they are transparent and accountable but, more fundamentally that the resources are clearly ‘owned’ by poor people rather than elites. But above all donors must recognise the role of negative forces in spreading rumour, disinformation and in extreme cases conflict as ways to undermine rivals.35. Donors cannot and should not handle such issues on their own. Instead they should seek to support and empower poor people. Poor people should be involved in decision-making concerning any project that affects them. But the crucial issue is that negative forces should be recognised and included in programme strategy. Those who may perceive themselves to be ‘excluded’ should be identified and if possible kept 16
  17. 17. Mainstreaming Conflict within the scope of the project. But in the extreme case those who manipulate the concerns of poor people should be challenged. Box 2: WRAPA’s experience with religious leaders In trying to start a program to support women’s legal rights Women’s Rights Advancement and Protection Alternative (WRAPA) visited a community and briefed the community head and Imam about the program and sought for their cooperation. Despite his support, space to rent for the program became a problem. A few weeks into the program an influential man in the community got up after Friday prayer accusing the community leaders of a sell-out and of denigrating Islam by allowing the program to take place. He called it ‘a program brought by lesbians’. The audience in the mosque was charged and ready to take action, but the community leader stood up and asked for time to invite WRAPA officials to defend themselves and for people to judge. The WRAPA officials went back to the community armed with their Islamic knowledge. After a lengthy debate using Islamic literature the community members were convinced about the sincerity of WRAPA officials and the program. Many lessons can be drawn from this case. Problems had been created because WRAPA had excluded an influential man who then wanted to cause trouble and undermine the program. But their early inclusion of the community head and Imam were crucial in averting a crisis. Secondly, it had been very important for WRAPA officials to be able to defend themselves through knowledge of Islam. Otherwise the situation could have degenerated into conflict and brought an end to the program. Fatima AdamuGuideline Three: Politicisation of IssuesEthnic, religious, territorial and other disputes should always be related to theunderlying malaise. As these are issues around which the perceptions of ordinary peopleare manipulated and distorted, DFID should focus on a counter-strategy to inform andempower poor people.36. Many conflicts in Nigeria are directly caused by events relating to traditional rulers and religious leaders. As the SCA indicates, such leaders may often play a moderating role and the real cause of conflict is likely to be a struggle for power and resources. The reality is that traditional and religious authority cannot and should not be bypassed, but also that such authority has to some extent been drawn into the general malaise10.10 See for example Egwu (1998) for a detailed study of the relationship of agrarian, ethnic and religiousissues with political manipulation. 17
  18. 18. Mainstreaming Conflict37. Western donors should be particularly careful because their involvement in any contentious issue may be seen as a modernising influence in opposition to tradition. It should be recognised that poor people may support non-state leadership because the state has failed. This is not a sign of positive adherence to old-fashioned ways but rather as a mark of frustration with the corruption of modernising tendencies. The role of such leaders as protectors of the poor in relation to a corrupted state must be recognised. They will remain ‘gatekeepers’ until the state is transformed and any attempt to ignore or marginalise them may have serious consequences. Box 3: Sharia and Conflict The issue of Shariah was not new in the Nigerian political system. However, the current politicization of the issue in the Nigerian political terrain by the pro and anti Shariah factions in the media, academics, politicians and those in authority has closed the possibility of dialogue on the issue. This lack of dialogue breeds misunderstanding and disrespect for one another often leading to conflict. A stakeholders’ workshop on Shariah in Zamfara, Sokoto and Kebbi states in August 2003 sponsored by the World Bank underscored this politicization and how Shariah conflicts in such states as Kano, Kaduna, Kebbi, Zamfara etc could have been averted through dialogue. Fatima AdamuGuideline Four: Impartiality and NeutralityDFID must ensure that its choices about the allocation of resources are not only fair butseen to be fair, especially in relation to policy that derives from outside the Nigeriancontext.38. A group of extremist youths are reported to have named themselves ‘Taliban’ and called a village that they claim to control ‘Afghanistan’. Although the ‘War on Terror’ has not yet featured prominently in the interventions of the international community in Nigeria there is an increasing risk that it may do so, with potentially serious consequences in relation to conflict. Donors should be careful to see through these disturbing outward manifestations into the heart of the problem in the failure of the state. Unemployed youths engaging in violence often represent a reaction to political failure. Similarly donors should not allow their attention to be diverted towards ‘Muslim Fundamentalism’ and away from the basic problem of governance. 18
  19. 19. Mainstreaming Conflict39. Similarly donors should recognise the highly critical discourse that associates oil companies with conflict in the oil-producing regions.PROGRAMME RESPONSESGuideline Five: Aid in a competitive environmentFollowing Guideline Two, DFID should develop responses that address negative forcesas well as positive ones. This is particularly important in the case of building coalitions.40. In relation to conflict it must be recognised that actors are not necessarily working in synergy. Although donors like to create coalitions this almost always has an impact on the status and power of the constituent elements. If an organisation is given resources this may alter their relationship with others. Rivalry and envy play important roles in coalition-building. By ignoring conflict between constituent agencies, donors have funded coalitions in a manner that has caused more harm than good. Box 4: Effects of aid on the CRESNET coalition Conflict Resolution Stakeholders’ Network (CRESNET) was formed by professionals in the field of conflict transformation and peace-building from all over Nigeria. They wanted to build a coalition and pursue issues with donor agencies. However, what started as an idea from the NGOs was soon taken over by USAID in order to pursue its own interests. USAID sponsored most of the meetings and so the members began to wait for payment before attending meetings. Unfortunately, the process completely eroded the fundamental principles behind the formation of the organization to the effect that after the end of USAID’s support departure from Nigeria, the network became almost moribund. Efforts are now being put together by its stakeholders to revert to the initial principles behind the formation of the network. Akin Akinteye41. Even among the programmes of donor agencies there may be separatist tendencies and the need for integration may need to be addressed firmly but sensitively. 19
  20. 20. Mainstreaming ConflictGuideline Six: Local LeadershipRecognising the complexity and sensitivity of conflict issues in Nigeria, and the long-termneed for bottom-up rather than top-down processes, DFID should seek to decentralisedecision-making and ensure that staff from as near to the locality as possible make thedecisions..42. A key finding of the SCA is that conflict arises from highly complex and localised interactions that are unlikely to be understood by outsiders. The proper management of conflict can only be undertaken by local people with an intimate knowledge of culture and power –and particularly of the negative interests that may have to be taken into account. This means that it is extremely important for DFID to ensure the highest possible levels of local representation, and this applies not only at local but also at national level.43. A second reason for this Guideline is that the long-term process of change must be led by Nigerians and the process of pro-poor development must be led by the poor. Accordingly, DFID should seek to build the capacity of local institutions rather than treat them as sub-contractors of expatriate institutions. In research projects, for example, Nigerian institutions should be given every possible opportunity to lead the process rather than simply be treated as sources of material. Where international NGOs are used as intermediaries, the risk of neo-colonial relationships that undermine local initiative should be taken into account. At the local level, Nigerians from different parts of the country may be regarded as part of the problem rather than part of the solution.44. In view of these sensitivities, DFID should constantly review its expatriate/local and insider/outsider representation, maintaining explicit records. Similarly it should be proactive in monitoring the representation of women in leadership positions (see Guideline Seven).Guideline Seven: Women’s LeadershipRecognising the potentially positive role that women can play in relation to conflict,DFID should be proactive in developing women’s skills and opportunities to takeleadership roles.45. Because of their gender roles in society women in Nigeria develop special skills as negotiators at the family level. Arguably these gender roles reinforce genetic advantages over men in relation to social skills. It seems likely that such skills could be transferred from the family to wider social issues, although the opportunities may have been too scanty for the point to be proven beyond doubt. This means that women represent a largely untapped resource of skills in relation to conflict negotiation11. Although there are differences between different groups it is widely11 For a useful presentation of different perspectives on this issue see de Waal (Ed) (2002) pp101-107 20
  21. 21. Mainstreaming Conflict found that women can play positive roles in relation to conflict across Africa and across religious distinctions12.46. As a long-term strategy in relation to conflict, donors should seek to enable women at the community level to extend their influence from the family to the social and political spheres. Girls’ education should have a long-term impact on conflict by increasing women’s influence –although many other factors are involved, of course.47. Donors should aim to ensure that women are equally represented with men in their programmes. This may entail setting a quota and monitoring progress (Guideline Six). Women should be given every possible support to extend their influence in positions of leadership. This may involve a special programme of capacity-building focused on women staff and applied in partner projects as well as in the donor agency. Box 5: Conflict prevention roles of women in farmer-pastoralist tensions Women’s gender roles in the society have given them skills that are relevant in conflict management and prevention. The role of women as agents of peace was reiterated by almost every group we met in Jigawa state. A representative of the Herdsmen association pinpointed not only the negotiating skills of the women, but also the influence they have over children who are sent graze livestock, which may then enter a farm and cause damage to the crops. This is one of the most common causes of disputes and conflict between farmers and pastoralists. This special position of women in the society that enable them to play crucial roles in the peace of a community should be sourced, tapped and utilized by development projects for conflict prevention and resolution as well as conflict management. Fatima Adamu48. Budgets for all projects should be examined to ensure that as a minimum they benefit women proportionately and include provision for capacity-building to develop women’s leadership skills.Guideline Eight: Service Delivery and ChangeRecognising that most Nigerians already experience severe poverty, that political changewill be slow and that the process of change rests on the empowerment of poor people, aidprogrammes should include a substantial element of service delivery in such a way as toinvolve poor people in a dialogue around practical problems.12 See for example Salihu (2002) 21
  22. 22. Mainstreaming Conflict49. Poor people need direct support if they are to give their attention to long-term processes of change. They also need to be engaged in the practical problems that face them rather than theoretical issues. Moreover, the proportion of aid that does not reach poor people is likely to strengthen elites. Accordingly, donors should set a minimum level for the resources in any project that must reach to the level of poor people. We suggest that this should be 70%.50. But this service delivery element must be harnessed as a basis for learning and advocacy. This will greatly enhance the impact of attempts to bring about change at other levels. Box 6: Transforming the legal system: Involving the poor and vulnerable In a society where corruption and inefficiency is endemic, empowering the poor to question and demand from the political and legal systems is absolutely necessary for the transformation of such systems. A project that focuses on the political system and structures must have direct deliverable services to the poor. The Access to Justice project focusing on legal reform may strengthen the elites of the system but offers little service to the poor. Taking up some of the legal cases of the poor ought to be taken by the project to provide the framework through which the legal system is challenged and transformed. Fatima AdamuGuideline Nine: The Private SectorRecognising that private companies are likely to pursue their interests by favouringspecific groups and that this may alienate others, donors should be cautious aboutentering into engagements with the private sector that are not overseen by publiclyaccountable bodies.51. While opportunities to secure support for poor people from the private sector are to be encouraged, it should be recognised that the primary interests of companies may not always coincide with those of the poor. The allocation of jobs and other benefits by companies, especially in the oil sector, has been a common source of conflict. Particular problems occur where businesses try to combine their commercial interests with public beneficence. This may lead to the alienation of excluded groups, or wasteful allocation of resources. USAID reported a case of three different oil companies building jetties in the same village. Donors that enter co-funding arrangements may find themselves drawn into controversy. 22
  23. 23. Mainstreaming Conflict52. In order to avoid such problems donors should encourage companies to pool funds with other sources and allocate those funds through public representative bodies. A good example is Educational Tax Fund (see box). This will increase the level of public confidence –and hence reduce the risk of conflict. Box 7: Pooled Resources –the case of the ETF Corporations contribute a percentage of their profits of the Education Trust Fund, which is managed by a board consisting of representatives of all stakeholders including government, the corporations and academia. Pooling together resources and decision making in this kind of fund prevents the suspicions and antipathy that often accompany this kind of collaboration. Lanre ObafemiPROCESSESGuideline Ten: AssessmentRecognising the complexity of conflict issues and the risk that aid may exacerbateconflict, donors should require every substantive programme and partner to undertakeConflict Impact Assessment on a regular basis.53. The SCA indicates that conflict arises from the interaction of political corruption with competition for resources. Because the aid process is concerned with the allocation of resources it will be subject to competition in which political corruption may play a critical role in introducing conflict. There is a significant risk that any intervention could cause or exacerbate conflict. In the current situation powerful elites will try to ‘capture’ the benefits of projects and use them to reinforce their own positions. Failing that they may deliberately try to undermine the project, possibly using conflict as a tool.54. Accordingly, every major aid activity should be subjected to a Programme Level Conflict Assessment (PLCA)13 focused on power relations. As a minimum this should include- • History of conflict in the area13 This is the terminology generally used by DFID –see DFID (2002) 23
  24. 24. Mainstreaming Conflict • Division of causes into security, political, economic and social factors at local, national and external levels • Identification of key stakeholders to include those indirectly affected and those who may feel excluded or marginalized • Model of power relationships • Impact of the project on power relations (gainers and losers) • Possible outcomes and risks • Opportunities for strengthening the power of poor people • Opportunities for advocacy • Proposed modifications to project design55. For a more developed methodology of Programme Level Conflict Assessment (PLCA), proposed by Akin Akintaye (team member) see Annex 2. Another useful model is the World Bank’s ‘Conflict Impact Assessment’ (draft November 2003).56. The assessment should be carried out in a participatory manner to include as wide a range of stakeholders as possible. This should help to uncover any negative interests in relation to the project and will lead to greater accuracy. In a climate often dominated by negative intentions, it is important to recognise the importance of perception, rumour and deliberate misinformation.57. The process should be repeated during the project cycle. For long-term projects the PLCA should take place during the initial phases (scoping and design) and should then be repeated during the inception and implementation phases. It should not be regarded as a ‘check’ but as an integral part of the project cycle, feeding back into project design and orientation.58. Especially in the case of projects at the federal level, an assessment should focus on the risk that the allocation of resources between States and regions may become as source of contention. It is also important to ensure that allocation of resources to particular institutions does not trigger conflict with other institutions (See Box) 24
  25. 25. Mainstreaming Conflict Box 8: Local Government Reform in Benue State The need for a comprehensive conflict assessment was exemplified by our findings in Benue State. The Establishment and Management Services Unit under the Permanent Secretary was not represented in the State Public Service Reform Committee of DFID’s State and Local Government Programme (SLGP), but all circulars and directives on establishment matters emanates from, and are given under his signature. Feeling excluded from the SLGP process, the Permanent Secretary initiated his own reform process. SLGP is likely to suffer antagonism and non-cooperation from this important segment of the establishment. Lanre ObafemiGuideline Eleven: TransparencyReflecting a strategy of empowering poor people in relation to predatory elites,transparency should be directed towards enabling poor people to participate inprocesses of change rather than feeding information to elite groups. Transparency shouldbe focused at the community level and use appropriate communication strategies.59. Glossy brochures circulating in Abuja are not a satisfactory indication of transparency. Donors should ensure that all stakeholders, including poor people, have access to basic information about any activity affecting them. They should ensure that their partners, whether NGO or government, observe the same standard of transparency.60. The information must be presented in a way that disaggregates what affects a particular community from the total scope of the project. As a minimum this must include- • Criteria for selection of communities, States and project areas • Objective of the project (general and for that community) • Financial Resources (ditto) • Ratios of Spending (Guideline Eight) • Project management (i.e. who is involved)61. Wherever possible the latter point should be further disaggregated to show how different interests are represented (see Guideline Five). This may include- • Breakdown by ethnicity, religion and sex • The balance between local and external staffing 25
  26. 26. Mainstreaming Conflict62. As a general rule, donors should undertake to inform and debate with stakeholders every 6 months and at a minimum once a year. They should also ensure that programme design is flexible enough to allow for changes that arise from this process to be fed into the project cycle.63. In order to communicate with poor people appropriate media must be used including local languages and verbal rather than written communication. Radio may be particularly suitable. Financial information can be posted in schools and teachers trained to present it. Donors should be proactive in creating public debate about their projects, seeking out opportunities to present their work in interviews and subject it to public scrutiny.Guideline Twelve: AccountabilityDFID should use the practice of accountability as a mechanism for empowering poorpeople.64. DFID is accountable in a number of directions -to parliament and taxpayers in the UK as well as to Federal and State governments for the implementation of contractual agreements in Nigeria. In relation to conflict, donors should focus their accountability on poor people and make it part of an empowering process.65. Regrettably it is often the case that faults in project implementation are often identified too late. In Nigeria this could mean that projects may actually fuel conflict. The World Bank funded Fadama 1 Project is now thought to have caused considerable tensions and possibly conflict between local communities but this only came to light when a new Fadama 2 project was being planned14. Because the consequences of such unintended side-effects could be so serious in the Nigeria context (Guideline Two refers), project monitoring should be both intensive and far- ranging to enable non-beneficiaries to express their views.66. A further issue is that corruption has spread widely through both government and civil society including NGOs15. This makes it important to monitor projects, especially their use of funds, more closely than might otherwise be the case. If donors are seen to fuel corruption this could in itself be a source of tension and possible conflict.67. Therefore, in addition to the practices already suggested under the Guideline Eleven (Transparency), donors should- • Monitor project performance and finances by independent on-site visits at least once a year • Include ratios of spending (Guideline Eight) in this process • Set up mechanisms for feedback and complaints that are appropriate and accessible to poor people14 Interview with Sarah Lyons of World Bank15 Nigeria ranks second worst offender on Transparency International’s global index of corruption 26
  27. 27. Mainstreaming Conflict • Undertake capacity building to enable poor people to monitor project and national budgets. budgets Box 9: Complaints mechanism in Dutse The Access to Justice Programme put ‘complaints boxes’ in the courts but the response was extremely low. The project could have found out much more about the problems faced by poor people by getting involved in a few test cases and linking these to capacity-building with local groups. The complaints system was a very limited form of accountability in an area in which traditional loyalties are powerful, and confidence in government structures is low. Tony Vaux68. Although formal complaints systems may be useful in some cases, it is generally better to focus on the representation of the people in project management so that views can be expressed in a less antagonistic manner.69. Poor people are not necessarily equipped to hold projects accountable and may need assistance to do so. As part of its overall strategy of improving governance, each project should include plans to develop the ability of poor people and civil society representatives to monitor not only project budgets but also associated state budgets. In accordance with Guideline Seven a special focus should be placed on women. 27
  28. 28. Mainstreaming ConflictSection Three: Implications for State and Project Selection70. DFID is currently engaged in a strategic review that includes the issue of where to work. The mission was asked to advise on the implications in relation to conflict.71. The Conflict Guideline particularly relevant to this issue is the one on Inclusion and Exclusion (Guideline Two). Any choice that DFID makes will result in a separation of ‘included’ and ‘excluded’ elements. There will be consequent possibilities for tensions and conflict. As already observed, the Nigerian context has been formed by intense competition for resources derived from oil and focused on the state. This has resulted not only in corruption but also intense rivalry that makes different elements and functions of society work in opposition to each other rather than harmoniously.72. It would not be surprising if DFID were subjected to sophisticated ‘special pleading’ in its process of selecting areas of work. Rumour and disinformation is likely to be manipulated to suit the interests of different parties. The final decision may not put an end to this. DFID may find that its objectives are undermined by continued rivalries and non-cooperation.73. Every effort should be made to avoid or mitigate such negative behaviour. This can be done by- • Opting for fluid regional programmes rather than those based on specific States • Involving stakeholders who may be excluded in order to assess and mitigate their concerns and plan damage-limitation strategies • Making the criteria and process transparent74. A regional approach may have many advantages other than conflict reduction. The advantages of treating water management in the North-West as a regional level are immediately apparent. In a strictly State-based approach DFID would probably do little more than transfer a problem from one area to another. In the case of the JWL, for example, social mobilisation that achieved benefits in one State could easily have very negative consequences for another State, with possible repercussions in terms of violent conflict.75. While it is recognised that DFID seeks to maximise its impact by concentrating its work in specific areas, the negative effects of exclusion are particularly severe in Nigeria where it compounds an existing problem of rivalry rather than cooperation. Impact will be better achieved by setting tight objectives around a specific issue rather than around a geographic entity.76. We therefore recommend that DFID should adopt an issues-based approach covering two or three sub-regions rather than choosing between States. Having chosen its sub- regions, Strategic Conflict Assessments should be conducted using the DFID methodology. 28
  29. 29. Mainstreaming Conflict77. In relation to the choice of issues the mission had only limited opportunity to explore the relationship between DFID’s current themes and conflict and our observations are limited.78. Although HIV/Aids is often associated with conflict this is not especially the case in Nigeria except in relation to the peace-keeping forces. In civilian life the problem is more related to social and economic tensions that cause migration rather than violence and displacement.79. DFID’s focus on education, especially for girls, does relate quite closely to our analysis of conflict. Firstly, by increasing the voice of women in society we expect conflict to be reduced in the long-term. But not all education is conducive to such a proposition16 and it may be that what is taught in schools under the name of history and general studies may exacerbate internal tensions of an ethnic or religious character. We propose that DFID should examine this question further.Section Four: Implications for Responses to Conflict80. During the course of the mission the team was asked to advise on the issue of practical responses to conflict. Although this is not directly referred to in the Terms of Reference it is clearly an issue of concern to State Coordinators. As the SCA points out there has generally been too much focus on responding to conflict with military force rather than giving early warning through local monitoring, or on preventing conflict by working to reduce tensions and rivalries by strategic means. This has been the focus of our main report –and with justification. But low-level conflict occurs quite frequently in Nigeria and recent reports indicate that the trend may be worsening17. The issue cannot be ignored.81. Again the critical Guideline is on Inclusion and Exclusion. Regrettably it is often the case that the distribution of relief materials following violent conflict exacerbates the underlying problem by discriminating between the parties. This may occur because the aid organisations are linked to particular groups. More disturbingly aid from government often follows political biases representing the interests of senior officials.82. Provision of mediation services is controversial. Although considerable claims have been made by organisations such as Academic PeaceWorks other commentators express scepticism about the permanence of their achievements. Bringing the sides together for discussions without resolving underlying problems is likely to lead only to temporary solutions. In many cases mediation achieves little more than a short respite.16 See DFID Issues Paper- ‘Education, Conflict and International Development’ -bibliography17 In its report for 2003 Human Rights Watch refers to ‘a sharp increase in political violence’. 29
  30. 30. Mainstreaming Conflict83. A second critique, relevant to our overall report, is that mediation tends to reinforce the power of elites. It is often a process brokered between the elites which have caused conflict and may reflect their interests rather than those of the poor –who are likely to suffer the worst consequences. This reinforcement of traditional and elite power could make matters worse in the long term.84. We recommend that- • DFID should focus on mainstreaming conflict into all activity rather than isolating it as a response after the event. • However, DFID has a responsibility to respond following violent incidents affecting its programme stakeholders • Its primary concern in such circumstances should be to ensure that humanitarian aid is not allocated in such a way as to increase the problem. • Mediation processes, if funded, should be rooted in the area, reflect underlying causes and empower poor people • DFID should engage critically with other aid actors.Section Five: Conclusions and Recommendations85. Violent conflict appears to be on the increase in Nigeria. It is a manifestation of a profound malaise in governance which may be summarised as an interaction of political corruption with fierce competition for resources. Another way of describing this is to say that substantial resources, primarily derived from oil, flow through corrupt systems causing intense rivalries and sometimes violent conflict.86. For much of Nigeria’s history as an independent nation this corruption was institutionalised in the form of military dictatorship18. This has left a legacy in the form of a militarized society that will take years if not generations to change.87. At this stage the process of change must be regarded as inherently conflictual. Competition and conflict lie at the heart of the political system. Resources provided from outside, such as donor funding, enters the same system and is subjected to the same intense rivalries. DFID should recognise that for every cooperating element there may be many that will seek to undermine and subvert the course of progress.88. If democracy and poverty alleviation are taken as fundamental goals it follows that the empowerment of poor people is a central part of any process. In Nigeria this is the only long-term solution. It is also an efficient solution. Poor people are experts on poverty. If their voice is heard more clearly projects and programmes can be considerably improved. Above all in Nigeria, the voice of women has been silenced or ignored. Thus, at least half the poor people have no say. And their voice is an18 The roots of the problem go back into colonialism, of course. 30
  31. 31. Mainstreaming Conflict important one because they have special perceptions of poverty within the household, and also they may have special skills in addressing the problems.89. Donors have tended to view empowerment as a localised and abstract concept rather than part of an overview that recognises a process of struggle between elites and those who are marginalised. DFID’s model of cooperation between different levels or tiers in society does not reflect the reality.90. Mainstreaming conflict is really the acceptance of a view that Nigeria is in a state of profound tensions. Change will not be achieved by cooperation and consensus as much as by struggle and assertiveness. Conflict is often a means by which competing elites achieve their ends. They manipulate ethnicity and religion in particular in order to achieve their objectives. Conflict divides poor people and makes them even less able to assert an influence on the allocation of resources, let alone to engage in the struggle for power. 31
  32. 32. Mainstreaming ConflictRecommendations91. The Mainstreaming Conflict Team recommends that- • DFID Nigeria should re-model its understanding of the processes of change to take better account of conflicting elements and interests. • The Conflict Guidelines should be considered as the basic recommendations of this mission and should be reflected in strategy, programme management and procedures. • Particular attention should be paid to conflict analysis in the design of new programmes. Programme Level Conflict Assessment (PLCA) should be applied in a methodical manner then and at each stage of the project cycle. • As part of a long-term strategy related to conflict DFID should develop a programme to support women’s capacities for peace through education, skills development and leadership. • DFID should examine the extent to which the school curriculum and local teaching practice may exacerbate conflict. • In choosing its future areas of operation DFID should adopt an issues-based approach as far as possible and delineate its activities by region rather than by States. • Before embarking on such a regional programme DFID should undertake a Strategic Conflict Assessment. • DFID should focus on support to Early Warning systems and prevention rather than responses after conflict. It may be appropriate to work with IPCR on these issues, offering capacity building as necessary. • Where direct responses are necessary, the aim should be to work with others to reduce biases that may exacerbate the causes of conflict. • Conflict mediation should be viewed with caution and must be aligned to long- term rather than short-term solutions.February 2004 32