Conflict Analysis Framework

Primary purpose

Conflict analysis tool

Intended users

Desk officers / planners in donor development organisations (World Bank staff).

Levels of application

Country level, in preparation of country strategies, poverty reduction strategies, policies and individual programmes. It can also be adapted for use at the (sub) regional level.

Conceptual assumptions

The contribution of development organisations, such as the World Bank, to conflict prevention is regarded as threefold:

  • Making countries more resilient to the eruption and escalation of violent conflict by strengthening participatory and inclusive social processes and institutions that may help manage conflicts in non-violent ways
  • Addressing factors related to conflict and determine their links with poverty – sources (including roots) of conflicts; opportunities for groups to engage in violent activities and the consequences of conflict
  • Determining the factors that can be addressed through World Bank assisted strategies, and the modalities through which they can best be managed

Main steps and suggested process

The World Bank’s methodology includes two stages, namely:

  • screening process, aimed to test whether it is (or not) appropriate to undertake a full conflict analysis in the country under consideration. The screening considers a set of nine indicators of potential violence
  • A full conflict analysis process, on the basis of the Conflict Analysis Framework (CAF).

The following steps are recommended for conducting a CAF-based conflict analysis:

  • Reinterpretation of existing information on the conflict situation of a country along the lines of the CAF (brief desk study)
  • Workshops with country specialists to cover each of the six CAF categories and analysis of variables along a set of specific dimensions, that will help determine a country’s overall position relative to conflict
  • Follow-up studies, as needed, on issues identified in the workshop and monitoring of issues identified as conflict-sensitive
  • Stakeholder analysis to identify and examine groups who have the ability to affect political and social change, including violence, and the main groups who are likely to be affected by such changes
  • Country consultation with different stakeholder groups, as needed
  • Concluding workshops to discuss integration of the above issues into the poverty reduction strategy, country strategy or other country programmes

Guiding questions / indicators

A. Risk screening indicators

  • History of conflict
  • Income per capita
  • Primary commodities exports
  • Political instability
  • Transformation of state structure
  • Breakdown of law and order
  • Restricted civil and political rights
  • Militarisation of the country
  • Active regional conflicts
  • Ethnic dominance
  • Youth unemployment

Although none of these factors alone is necessary or sufficient to determine the outbreak, escalation or resumption of violent conflict, they have been found to be statistically highly related to conflict.

B. Conflict Analysis Framework

Categories of variables

  • Social and ethnic relations, e.g. social cleavages, group identity-building, bridging social capital
  • Governance and political institutions, e.g. stability of political institutions, equity of law
  • Human rights and security, e.g. human rights status, militarisation of society, role of media
  • Economic structure and performance, e.g. income disparities, income changes
  • Environment and natural resources, e.g. availability of and access to natural resources
  • External factors, e.g. regional conflicts, role of diasporas

Desk officers are encouraged to use their knowledge of the country to identify those variables which seem most relevant to the conflict in question.

These variables are analysed according to the following dimensions:

  • History / changes: how has the variable developed/changed over a relevant time span?
  • Dynamics / trends: what is determining the future path of the variable and how is it likely to develop?
  • Public perceptions: public attitudes and biases regarding the variable
  • Politicisation: how the variable is used politically by groups and organisations;
  • Organisation: the extent to which the variable has led to the establishment of interest organisations, and / or influenced political parties and militant organisations
  • Link to conflict and intensity: how the variable contributes to conflict and the current level of intensity
  • Link to poverty: how the variable relates to poverty

Based on the analysis of variables, desk officers are also encouraged to examine linkages between variables.

Required resources

  • Considerable resources are required to conduct a full CAF, including expert workshops, stakeholder consultations and the deployment of consultants.
  • While a full CAF (desk and field work) may require considerable resources, this is not a necessity. It is possible to conduct a CAF via a simpler and less expensive process, including two to three-day workshops, desk studies, etc. It is also possible to adapt CAF to the country context by identifying a few conflict sensitive variables and monitoring them on a regular basis.