Preventing conflict - Peace Direct

Preventing conflict

Every day people’s lives are destroyed because of violent conflicts. But it does not have to be this way.

Stopping violence before it starts is possible. In conflict zones, this is the difference between life and death.

We support local activists to carefully monitor the triggers of war, and sound the alarm before violence erupts. It requires dedication and bravery to work in local communities where a threat can lurk behind every corner.



Preventing conflict

We support trained and trusted local activists who monitor hotspots of violence on the ground and provide early warning alarms before violence breaks out.

Using communications technology, they gather data on emerging crises to analyse key trends and respond to events on the ground, preventing conflict before it erupts and stopping people from being drawn in when tensions flare. Where violence sparks, they devise swift and effective solutions to stop it escalating.

We analyse and share their reports and first-hand evidence with decision makers around the world, alerting the world to serious violence and advocating recommendations on behalf of local activists.


People celebrating after the announcement of a military coup. On May 13, 2015 , for the second time women reached the city center to protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term. The same day, General Godefroid Niyombare declare a military coup on private radio stations. 2 days after a confuse situation, the military coup was declared failed. Photo Igor Rugwiza
Photo: Igor Rugwiza

Why it matters

For local people living in a conflict zone where protests turn violent, the police arrest without warrants and political difference turns into outbreaks of violence, having up to date information on the flashpoints of violence means having the time to run, hide or move to a safer area.

For outsiders who have limited ways of knowing what is happening in remote or hard to reach areas, or where government control stops a flow of information, local networks working on the ground can be the only way of getting accurate and immediate information from the heart of a conflict.

These systems are called Early Warning and Early Response (EWER) networks, and are critical for long term peacebuilding. Local people have the unique ability and significant potential to use technology to alert the world to emerging crises. The information they publish on violence and conflict can alter the course of war.

Locally led EWER has the enormous benefit of being grounded in local knowledge, culture and relationships. Their proximity to the hotspots of violence means they can respond without hesitation, resolving conflict or stopping others from getting involved swiftly and effectively.

We are determined to increase our support to locally led early warning and rapid response systems so that localised violence, or the threat of violence, is stopped before it escalates.

On May 13, 2015 , for the second time women reached the city center to protest against President Pierre Nkurunziza's decision to run for a third term. The same day, General Godefroid Niyombare declare a military coup on private radio stations. 2 days after a confuse situation, the military coup was declared failed. Photo Igor Rugwiza
Photo: Igor Rugwiza


What we do


In Burundi, we work with a network of 23 local peace organisations  to sound the alarm to stop deadly violence, and defuse tensions before they escalate. 198 Citizen Reporters monitor flashpoints at the community level and take action to minimise violence. We analyse and share this information with decision makers around the world through weekly flash reports.


In Sudan, we support local organisation CfPS to run a rapid response network, sending trained local leaders to stop violence where conflicts over land and resources spark. Called ‘Peace Committees’, these local activists are on call to stop outbreaks of violence, wherever they may emerge. Where the Peace Committees have not intervened, local conflicts have escalated out of control resulting in the deaths of many and dangerous entrenchment of mistrust and hatred. Despite serious violence, the Peace Committees continue to prevent conflict and are increasingly funding interventions using their own resources.


In Zimbabwe we support a network of local Peace Committees who work with local communities to stop violence at the root. They are rapidly developing their own EWER network, at a time when protests are turning violent and police crackdowns turn into abuse. It is dangerous. Government repression means their work and lives are at risk with every project that runs. But it must continue. As Zimbabwe wavers on a knife edge, we want to support our local partner to scale up their work, ensuring violence does not escalate out of control.

Resolving deep divisions

Preventing conflict is not only the effort to tackle the immediate threat of violence. It can also be the slow process of peacebuilding – resolving the underlying issues that feed tensions. It is community cohesion and resilience – being able to walk down the street and not be attacked because of your religion, background or upbringing. Read about this work in Sri Lanka, the Philippines and Israel-Palestine.


These networks form an important part of our advocacy. The information collected by local networks has been praised by government representatives and the UN alike. We are focused on disseminating the information on the crisis and working with our partners to help shape international responses.


Voices from the ground: Burundi

‘In Bubanza [a province in Burundi] we could see people from both sides using hateful and violent language. Government supporters were saying ‘we will wash you away’, words we knew meant members of the opposition would be killed. The opposition were calling government supporters uncivilised savages. This language frightened people.

The tension was tangible.

Ten families from my community fled to other provinces, or to Rwanda. We decided to organise talks between both sides to calm the situation.

It was not easy to convince young people affiliated to political parties to stop using hostile language. But taking advantage of our neutrality and the trust these youths had in us as civil society members, we managed to get their attention.

We explained to them that they must move beyond their political affiliations and the electoral hype. They must learn to coexist and cultivate tolerance and respect.

Our initiative has paid off. After the talks we saw a drop in public calls for violence.’

-Representative from our local partner in Bubanza province, Burundi


Updates from the field

Tackling violence and hate speech in Burundi

In Burundi, a network of local activists are tackling election violence and hate speech, building bottom-up initiatives to complex problems.  Read more »

Burundi President sworn in for third term

Burundi's President Pierre Nkurunziza has been sworn in for a controversial third term in office. Locals fear a reignition of conflict.Read more »

An update on Burundi

Peace Direct's Local Correspondent in Burundi is providing regular reports on violent protests which have gripped the country since late April this year.Read more »


Other issues we tackle