The best way to deal with violent conflict is to make sure it never happens. Prevention saves the lives and livelihoods of those directly affected. It is also more cost effective than trying to manage or resolve conflict once it has started.
Interest in ‘early warning’ has grown worldwide over the past few years, including at the African Union (AU), which runs its own continental early warning system, the Institute for Security Studies (ISS).
The ISS works with government and other decision makers in Africa and globally to prevent conflict. In May, an ISS training session in Addis Ababa gave early warning practitioners simple yet powerful techniques to improve their work and the way they communicate findings to decision makers.
‘Early warning goes beyond just knowing about an impending crisis – it’s about early attention, early alerting and early action’, says Dr. Julia Bello-Schünemann, a Senior Researcher from the ISS and facilitator of the training session.
‘Getting this right requires building the evidence base on conflict trends and dynamics, including how to detect the less obvious signs of trouble that are easily missed’. These ‘weak signals’ have to be investigated, analyzed and evaluated to confirm their relevance and enable improved decision making.
The ISS training typically goes beyond imparting technical skills. Networks are built that enable knowledge sharing and collaborative problem solving that continues long after the training has ended.