USAID/East Africa's Acting Regional Director, Larry Meserve, and the Intergovernmental Authority on Development's (IGAD) Executive Secretary, Eng. Mahboub M. Maalim, signed an agreement on September 22, 2009, that provides $500,000 additional resources to support regional conflict prevention and response in the Horn of Africa among pastoral communities through IGAD's Conflict Early Warning and Response Mechanism (CEWARN).
CEWARN's vision is to 'empower stakeholders to prevent violent conflicts,' especially in three areas: the Somali Cluster (border areas of Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia), the Karamoja Cluster (border areas of Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda) and the Dikihil Cluster (between Djibouti and Ethiopia). CEWARN works with a network of field monitors, country coordinators, national research institutes, civil society organizations and Conflict Early Warning and Response Units (CEWERUs) to receive and share information concerning potentially violent conflicts and their outbreak and escalation in the IGAD region; and to analyze information and suggest options for early response.
During the signing ceremony, USAID's Larry Meserve commented, "Over the years, CEWARN has played a vital role in the Horn of Africa Region to communicate conflict mitigation and response policy options to decision-makers through national CEWERUs in IGAD member states."
Eng. Mahboub M. Maalim stated, "Given the upsurge of violence in pastoralist areas in northern Kenya, especially within the Karamoja Cluster, we need strategically placed regional, national and local structures like CEWARN, the National CEWERUs and Peace committees, to help facilitate conflict mitigation and response activities among a wide group of stakeholders. I'm very pleased about USAID/East Africa's support to IGAD to establish and support these structures in the region: life is tough enough now throughout the region we don't need any more violence."
One example of CEWARN's ability to facilitate peace was seen during the recent violence in the Rift Valley. Several weeks ago, CEWARN (supported by USAID/EA) and Kenya's National Conflict Early Warning and Early Response Unit (CEWERU), also known as the National Steering Committee (NSC), facilitated a meeting in Nakuru to deliberate on the escalating conflicts especially in the larger Turkana district and to identify possible response activities. The meeting, which also included Civil Society organizations and government officials, including the Rift Valley Provincial Office, has led to a series of follow up interventions which are currently underway.
Since its inception in 2002, and with USAID assistance and support, CEWARN has raised the visibility of the extent of pastoralist conflict ongoing in the Horn of Africa; established a comprehensive information data base about sub-regional conflict; developed tools to track and monitor conflicts, and helped mitigate many cases of potentially violent conflicts. CEWARN has also established a flexible, multi-donor funded Rapid Response Fund to help respond to conflicts in a timely and appropriate manner.
Today's contribution to CEWARN brings the total U.S. contribution to CEWARN since 2006 to approximately $4.2 million. Prior to 2006, USAID supported the CEWARN mechanism through the USAID's Horn of Africa Support Program.