Accra, Ghana – Today, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) signed an agreement under which USAID will support WANEP’s efforts to prevent election violence in five countries in West Africa through the strengthening of national conflict early warning systems.
At last summer’s U.S – Africa Leaders Summit in Washington, DC, President Barack Obama pledged that, “The United States will launch a new effort to bolster the [West Africa] region’s early warning and response network and increase their ability to share information about emerging crises.” This agreement, part of the broader Early Warning and Response Partnership (EWARP), is the first major stride towards fulfilling that pledge.
WANEP is a network of more than 500 civil society organizations across West Africa, dedicated toconflict prevention and peacebuilding. USAID will provide U.S. $2.5 million over a five-year period to enable WANEP’s extensive network of civil society organizations to identify potential triggers of violence in upcoming elections in Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Niger and Sierra Leone.
If monitoring in a given area reveals a heightened risk of violence at any point in an election cycle, WANEP will develop recommendations on how to prevent or mitigate violence through activities such as mediation, peace messaging, and community dialogue. These recommendations will be channeled to a wide range of national and regional stakeholders including the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) for action.
“Although the causes of political instability in West Africa are deep-rooted, there have been episodes where violence and instability have been sparked by elections,” stated USAID/West Africa Mission Director Alex Deprez. “Strengthening early warning and response around key elections in the region will help to reduce the potential for future conflict, and support broader participation in the democratic process.”
This project builds on the successes of previous USAID programs dating back over ten years that were designed to enhance the capacity of WANEP and ECOWAS to develop and strengthen conflict early warning systems in each of the 15 ECOWAS member states. With USAID support, WANEP and ECOWAS launched the ECOWAS Warning and Response Network (ECOWARN) in 2003, an unprecedented partnership in which community monitors from a designated civil society organization collect early warning information in real time and share it with an intergovernmental body using a common database.
This is the first award that USAID has provided directly to WANEP, an important recognition of WANEP’s maturation and growing relevance and of USAID’s commitment to investing in local organizations.
This project is funded through the USAID/West Africa regional mission, whose goal is to promote social and economic well-being advanced by West Africans. Spanning 21 countries, USAID/West Africa designs and implements programs with West African partners to strengthen systems of non-violent conflict management, support economic growth, and expand quality health services.
The American people, through USAID, provide economic and humanitarian assistance in more than 100 countries worldwide. For more information please visit http://www.usaid.gov/west-africa-regional.
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