By Kristin Cotter
On 23 July 2014, the World-Wide Human Geography Data (WWHGD) Working Group hosted a webinar on Data and Mapping for Humanitarian Assistance in Nigeria. The WWHGD Working Group intended for this webinar to promote its goal of building voluntary global partnerships around mapping and geography data for human security. The speakers addressed crisismapping and geographic information system (GIS) conflict analysis with a focus on Nigeria. The webinar consisted of a 3 hour session via phone. The speakers included Nate Haken, Director, Conflict Early Warning and Assessment, The Fund for Peace, as well as Oluduton Babayemi, Director, Northern Nigeria Assessment, CrisisMappers.org.
Nate Haken was the first speaker, presenting on “Nigerian Conflict Analysis through GIS tools.” He advocated a systems approach to addressing complex issues. He identified four considerations that are often taken for granted, but that are almost always difficult to realize in practice. He maintained that it is important to consider the second and third order effects of intervention (civilian protection), address cross-cutting issues (social, economic, political, security, gender, youth), discern among variables (antecedent, intervening, independent, dependent), and carry out multi-level analysis and implementation (things my look very different at the state level than at the local level). Mr. Haken emphasized that any framework must be iterative, flexible, and locally-defined in order to be effective.
Mr. Haken asserted that the pervasive complexity of the Nigerian situation must be unpacked. Concerning events in the country include an insurgent uprising in 2009, escalating violence in 2011, a state of emergency in 2013 that was extended, and the Chibok Incident in 2014 in which over 200 female students were abducted. He compared local government conflict data both before and after the state of emergency and pointed out the differing instances of violence in the various local government areas.
The Fund for Peace is pulling together a range of partners and initiatives collecting data and combining all their information into one platform searchable by location, conflict indicator, and date. This common framework for analysis promotes information sharing and will considerably increase understanding of the situation within the region. The platform contains country, state, and local data in the form of maps, bar charts, and line graphs. Self-identified “Agents of Peace” can be mapped as well, manifesting local level engagement. It enables review of patterns and trends, identification of causes and solutions, recognition of key stakeholders, formulation of recommendations and plans, assessment of training needs for implementation, and development of a work plan. Data sources include WANEP-Nigeria, Nigeria Stability and Reconciliation Programme (NSRP), Council on Foreign Relations, UNLocK, NigeriaWatch, and Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED). The multi-stakeholder nature of the project is crucial because different stakeholders know different things, everyone must be involved for peacebuilding to be successful, it leads to ownership and buy-in by primary stakeholders and beneficiaries, and it promotes social capital for peacebuilding. The platform can be found at www.p4p-nigerdelta.org and all of the information is public and available for download.
Mr. Haken was followed by Oluduton Babayemi, whose presentation “CrisisMapping Northern Nigeria: Prospects and Challenges” focused more on conditions within Nigeria, addressing the regional insecurity and lack of resources. Mr. Babayemi and his organization are involved in the crisismapping of vulnerable communities and make their data open to the public. Some regional challenges and crisismapping indicators include inter-communal conflict, natural disasters and environmental degradation, chronic poverty, and election-related violence. The data can be used to make organizations and the government aware of where there are no schools or health centers, thus working to improve the lives of the most disenfranchised Nigerians. Mr. Babayemi remarked on the project’s attempts to involve more youth in its efforts as well.
This webinar supported TIDES’s goal of promoting open-source information sharing to populations under stress. Post-conflict, post-disaster, and impoverished regions benefit from the work of CrisisMappers and others who gather and share information vital to the provision of aid.