The Horn of Turbulence:
Identifying the Root Causes of Conflict and the Appropriate Instruments for Peace Building as a Precondition for Sustainable Conflict Resolution.
Institute for African Alternatives.
“Resource Scarcity and Conflict Management in the Horn of Africa”
A Research Project organised by the Institute For African Alternatives (IFAA), UK
and funded by the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) Canada
The Horn of Africa has been torn apart by warfare for over thirty years. The propensity for conflict in this region has been the subject of much discussion amongst scholars and policy makers. The research programme represents part of a continuing effort to understand some of the underlying causes and has been undertaken by a multinational team recruited from diverse states of the region, whose governments are periodically locked in antagonism. The making of this work is a telling illustration of the dynamics of conflict itself. Shortly after the project got under way, one of the chosen field sites in Eritrea, became a battlefront in the 1998-2000 Eritrean-Ethiopian border war. Access to the field, to informants and to official sources suddenly became blocked, and the entire project viewed with suspicion.
.As certain parts of the country became no go areas, researchers in conflict-ridden areas were subjected to harassment by law enforcement officers and attracted the unwelcome attentions of military personnel.
Even in those regions where primary research could be carried out, such research carried considerable risk whilst research in the Sudan was also problematic. Fortunately for the purposes of this project it was possible to side step some of these constraints by carrying out research with displaced populations from conflict areas who had shifted to Khartoum. Yet the very constraints placed on methodology, and the improvisation it evinced from the teams, underlined the tragic dimensions of a country at war with itself.
While the Ethiopian research team was operating under comparatively favourable conditions, they soon came across a different difficulty.
The scale of the initial research plan had confined work to the North Shoa region. Yet, soon it became clear that it would not possible to focus only on a limited geographical area and produce meaningful results. There was an interrelationship between environmental, political and social factors spanning a much wider area, and involving several different ethnic groups. Now the challenge was in widening the dimensions of the research without losing its investigative focus.
The flexibility of the different research teams was complemented by a brief that allowed for a great deal of autonomy. The concern with conflict, and the interest in environmental degradation, was sufficient as a guideline, and to guarantee the thematic unity of the work. Completed in the summer of 2000, the findings, and the constructive results of the process itself, come at a propitious moment. Current events in the Horn hint at the potential for a major transition in this turbulent region. Read more