CEWARN uses sports events to facilitate positive interaction among youth and other community members previously locked in conflict.
Photo: CEWARN

07.03.2012

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Again and again, there are conflicts over the scarce resources of land, water and pasture in parts of the Horn of Africa region where pastoralism is predominant – and they often lead to deadly violence. The Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN) has opted for regional, cross-border co-operation to tackle the root of the problem.

It is 7 pm on a Sunday evening in August; CEWARN staff are far away from Addis Ababa, at a strategy development retreat. The Director, Dr. Martin Kimani Mbugua, receives an SMS message from the co-ordinator of CEWARN’s national early warning and response structure in Kenya. It recounts a report received from field reporters on the killing of 22 Kenyan pastoralists and the theft of their cattle that were allegedly driven across the border into Ethiopia by armed attackers. The attackers are believed to be from a neighbouring community in Ethiopia.

As the evening wears on, details of the attack are updated through SMS, telephone calls and email amongst field reporters, national co-ordinators of Ethiopia and Kenya as well as the CEWARN director. In less than two hours, reports are in on senior officials in both capitals being briefed and their taking immediate steps to deal with the situation. The conversation of updates, clarifications, questions and developments continues for the next four days until the perpetrators have been arrested, their weapons seized and the stolen livestock recovered.

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