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In focus: Nate Haken, Senior Associate at The Fund for Peace

P1040738Nate Haken provides strategic support to PIND’s Partners for Peace project. One of his key projects is the peacebuilding map, Nigeria’s first interactive web map tracing both incidents of violence and responses to it. AOAV and the National Working Group on Armed Violence have contributed data on over 200 “partners of peace” tackling the violence. Nate Haken explains why this is important.

AOAV: What does P4P do?

NH: P4P stands for Partners for Peace. We facilitate better multi-stakeholder collaboration around peace building. We recognise that peace building is a very complex issue, with economic factors, demographic factors, and security factors playing a role. Because of these complexities we need people from across the spectrum to be involved.  P4P seeks to create platforms and networks so that communities, civil society, the private sector, and the public sector can work together more effectively for sustainable human security and peace in the Niger Delta.

AOAV: Can you tell us more about the peace building map that P4P runs?

NH: There are a number of very interesting conflict assessment and early warning mechanisms in the Niger Delta and in Nigeria. But each one of these initiatives has its own particular focus. To really understand the deeper issues as a whole we wanted to link all these different initiatives in one map. It is an attempt to pull together all the knowledge that the wider peace building community has.

The map seeks to answer questions such as what are the conflict risk factors, where are they, and who is doing what where to address those conflict risk factors. It’s important to know what are the conflict drivers, and the conflict triggers. However, if you don’t know who is doing what, and who is there to mitigate those pressures, then you are only seeing one piece of the puzzle.  Conflict assessment and early warning must be linked with opportunities for response if it’s to be of any use at all. The peace building map is a platform, a resource that is gaining traction.

AOAV: Are there any examples where the map has been used to inform concrete programming initiatives?

NH: The Nigeria P4P web map has only been up for a few months, but it has already been used for various purposes. Some peace building and development projects, such as Mercy Corps, have used it for their baseline assessments. The map helps to understand what the trends have been over the last few years, so organisations can identify where their support might be most needed, and where they will have the most impact. I’ve also received queries from the media who are interested in understanding the deeper drivers of conflict. National Geographic for instance is referring to it in an upcoming article about violence in Nigeria.

Various agencies are also using this data for their security briefs and conflict bulletins.

The Foundation for Partnership Initiatives in the Niger Delta (PIND) uses the data to identify where they want to allocate their small grants, for example, particularly within their peacebuilding program in the Niger Delta.

Niger Delta Violence Graph (1)

AOAV: Do you think the peace building map model could be exported to other parts of Nigeria, or other countries?

NH: Absolutely. PIND, which supported the development of this map, is focused on the Niger Delta. But we recognise that understanding conflict in the Niger Delta requires an understanding of the national context. And we want to partner with other initiatives that may have a national focus. That’s why the web map also includes data from across the country. Building partnerships and multi stakeholder collaboration is critical, not just in the Niger Delta, but in the entirety of the country, and in the world. Through The Fund for Peace, I have been involved with similar types of initiatives in Liberia and Uganda. These kinds of mechanisms for information sharing, participatory conflict assessments, and collective analysis of that data, are key to success and sustainability. The lack of collaboration is one of the major stumbling blocks that organisations are running into, again and again. So creating platforms for information sharing, and facilitating platforms, is critical.

AOAV: Looking at your map, and your data, what would you say is the situation in the Niger Delta?

NH: I am very encouraged to see that over the last two years, from the beginning of 2011 to June 2013, the trend has been good in terms of the level of violence. That’s at the overall Niger Delta level. But within the Niger Delta, within certain states, or local government areas, there’s always variation and volatility. So as we look forward to upcoming benchmarks and events, whether it’s the election cycle or something else, we have to keep on working together, to ensure that the positive trends continues.