Reducing armed conflict in the Horn of Africa with peace infrastructure


The Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism established by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development has used data, technology, and a decentralised network of people and organisations to build an effective early warning system that has demonstrably reduced armed conflict across the Horn of Africa.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) compromises eight states spanning the Nile Valley, African Great Lakes, and the Horn of Africa. Recognising the progress that was being made towards peace in the region and resolving to consolidate it, a 2000 IGAD summit culminated with a declaration which, among other things, established the Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN).1 With a secretariat based in Addis Ababa, CEWARN is a network of analysts, coordinators, and field monitors who synthesise extensive data collection and analysis with a custom-made analytical software tool. Much of its work is carried out in partnership with government agencies and civil society organisations. Once processed, its findings and recommendations are shared with relevant actors such as the governments of IGAD member states and the African Union Continental Early Warning System.2 The establishment of CEWARN represents a major investment (supported by the EU, USAID, and several national governments) in early warning and early response to prevent violent conflict, one which has continued to grow and develop significantly over time.3

After first becoming operational in 2002, CEWARN focused on monitoring pastoral conflicts along the Kenya-Uganda and Ethiopia-Kenya-Somalia borders.4 Its operations were credited with contributing to a significant reduction of armed conflict in those areas, such as in 2007 when a CEWARN Field Monitor successfully prevented 100 Pokot warriors in Kenya from launching a cross-border attack on Ugandan security forces.5 In September 2012, the CEWARN Strategy Framework 2012-2019 was launched in Uganda, heralding a significant increase in the scope of the Mechanism’s operations.6 These included employing its methodologies and tools to identify a much wider range of conflicts over a larger geographical area. New technological capabilities were added to CEWARN’s arsenal, including SMS-based field observation reports, crowd-sourced data, and geographic information mapping systems.7 By 2016, CEWARN had established conflict response units and situation rooms in every IGAD member state and commanded the resources of a Rapid Response Fund to support communal peace dialogue and finance solutions to the underlying causes of conflicts, such as developing water access for pastoralists who were clashing over a limited supply.8 CEWARN has contributed to a significant reduction in armed conflict in the Horn of Africa and represents an effective method of reducing violence.

1 Khartoum Declaration, 2000. Available at: (Accessed 03/12/2020)

2 Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism. About CEWARN. (CEWARN, 2020) Available at: (Accessed 03/12/2020)

3 Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism. Home. (CEWARN, 2020) Available at: (Accessed 03/12/2020)

4 Ibid.

5 David Nyheim. Preventing Violence, War and State Collapse: The Future of Conflict Early Warning and Response. (OECD, 2009) p.76

6 Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism. Brochure. (CEWARN, 2019) p.10 Available at: (Accessed 03/12/2020)

7 Ibid. p.14

8 IGAD. “IGAD commemorates International Peace Day highlighting on its role in promoting peace and security for sustainable development in the region.” Articles. (2016) Available at: (Accessed 03/12/2020)

Start Year


End Year



Horn of Africa

UN Regional Group


Type of Conflict

Risk of a horizontal (non-state) intrastate conflict

Type of Initiative

Peace infrastructure

Main Implementing Organisation(s)

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development




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