KEY INDIVIDUAL(s)

Chas Morrison

WHO CAN BENEFIT FROM
THIS CASE STUDY

Human Rights Activists
Policy Makers
Civic Tech Initiatives

KEY CATEGORIES

Citizen Engagement
Crowdsourcing
Civic Technology
Citizen Engagement and Voice
Civil Society Advocacy

CONTACT CTIN

CASE STUDY

Engaging with local communities to prevent violence: what role for ICTs?

TYPE OF ORGANISATION RESPONSIBLE FOR THE INITIATIVE

NAME

EMAIL

WEBSITE

Chas Morrison (Conventry University: Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations)

STATUS

COUNTRY

FOUNDING DATE

LAST UPDATED

Live

South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda

2016

N/A

BRIEF OVERVIEW OF CASE STUDY

The peacebuilding field is full of examples of technology use that failed to live up to expectations. Effective conflict early warning and prevention approaches depend on building and strengthening relationships. The research that this briefing is based on – carried out in South Africa, Tanzania and Uganda – shows that, at best, information and communications technologies (ICTs) can support relationship building, but that they are not a substitute for the human element that is essential to creating trust, dialogue and shared goals. The research team argue that what is needed for effective conflict early warning are location-appropriate methods that can build on existing communication channels and strengthen trust between the people communicating. If ICTs are imposed externally in an effort to find a ‘solution’ to ‘conflict’, they are likely to be ineffective and unsustainable, and can do more harm than good.

QUICK FACTS/TAKEAWAYS FROM THE CASE STUDY
  • ICTs such as mobile phones, social media or blogs are tools, not approaches. Their potential for mitigating and reducing violent conflict is greatest where there are existing channels of communication and good inter-organisational and inter- personal trust.
  • High costs and low literacy levels mean that ICTs are out of reach for many people in the places where we worked. Simple, low-cost communication tools – banners, posters, flyers and blackboards – can have significant impacts, promoting messages to diffuse conflict tensions and reaching audiences that may not use ICTs.
  • If ICTs are imposed externally in an effort to find a ‘solution’ to ‘conflict’, they are likely to be ineffective and unsustainable, and can do more harm than good.
LESSONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS

We make the following recommendations to those engaging in peacebuilding and conflict prevention at local levels:

  • Where ICTs are used to develop communication channels, they should build on local people’s existing engagement with technology. Introducing equipment, software or practices outside of people’s comfort zone will require significant groundwork and adds risk to the sustainability and viability of projects.
  • External agencies should be wary of introducing ICT innovations and avoid short-term ‘fixes’. Instead, they should support local partners who enjoy trust and respect, and plan for longer-term relationship-building and support to locally driven mechanisms for strengthening communication – which may or may not include ICTs.
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NOTE: The case studies submitted will be used in content creation, we will write articles on your work that engages with our readers. The case studies will also be compiled and added to our CTIN database of civic tech case studies and shared through our various channels.