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The Violent Road: Report Methodology

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Report methodology

Information for this study was collected largely through a combination of a systematic literature review, desk-based research, interviews with leading NGOs and other experts – independent and governmental – working in the area of armed violence prevention and reduction, and field assessment by NWGAV members and AOAV researchers.

The literature on armed violence in Nigeria was drawn from academic, civil society and international organisation sources. Data sources include the World Bank, the United Nations Development Programme, the Nigeria Security Tracker, the Armed Conflict Location & Event Dataset (ACLED) and Nigeria Watch. AOAV also commissioned a freelance BBC correspondent to travel throughout the country to give a ‘ground view’ – a snapshot of armed violence at a particular time and in a particular place – to show the diversity of experiences in Nigeria around the issue of armed violence.

Challenges of this report

There are several challenges associated with any research on armed violence in Nigeria. Some of these are common to research on armed violence; others are particular to Nigeria. Absence of data There are several gaps in the available data, particularly at the sub-national level. This means important regional variations can often be masked by mean and median scores across what is an extremely diverse and populous country. In a country where there are multiple flashpoints and drivers of conflict – sometimes overlapping, sometimes discrete – sub-national, local data is crucial to developing a properly nuanced understanding of armed violence. This data is often absent, or if it exists is not publicly available. Conflicting data and reporting Missing data is not the only problem; conflicting data also obscures the ground truth. There are areas in which multiple organisations are producing contrasting data on similar topics using divergent sources, methodologies and theoretical approaches. Reliable casualty and/or fatality figures are particularly difficult to ascertain in a context of multiple, competing claims and methodologies.14 Bias in reporting coverage15 Many sources consulted were open-source, publicly available documents. These may contain bias in their selection of case studies, their reporting of incidents of armed violence, and the attention and detail paid to analysing drivers of particular types, locations or perpetrators of armed violence. View from the ground Any ‘on the ground’ attempt to give a snapshot of armed violence faces restrictions of its own. The timing of the research visit, the biases of interviewees, access restrictions and the inherent difficulties in corroborating matters of importance against a backdrop of vengeful attacks, self-censorship and fear can all create confusion and a lack of clarity. This is why our fieldwork has to be balanced with an extensive and careful survey of existing data.