by Bronwyn Bruton
For full report click here.
Conflict Resolution Stakeholders Network (CRESNET) was an experiment in
responses to conflict developed by the Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI)
year program in Nigeria, immediately following the collapse of the military dictatorship.
OTI is an office housed in the Bureau for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Assistance
in the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), an
government agency that receives “overall foreign policy guidance” from the
Secretary of State.1
From its arrival in Nigeria in May 1999 until February 2001, OTI pursued a variety of program options that provided critical support to Nigeria’s transition to democracy. In February 2001, OTI convened a Stakeholders Conference that drew together a number of NGOs working in conflict resolution. This conference was colored by the unprecedented violence of riots occurring simultaneously in the northern city of Kaduna, and resulted in a cooperative decision on the part of the attending NGOs to create CRESNET. Originally envisioned as a NGO network, CRESNET evolved with extensive support from OTI/Nigeria into a professional association of conflict resolution experts. OTI/Nigeria’s conflict resolution program was a visible success, and subsequently CRESNET gained considerable attention from international donor agencies as an innovative model of “bottom up” conflict resolution programming.
Two questions naturally emerge from OTI’s experience in Nigeria:
1) What were the key factors that contributed to the success of CRESNET?
2) Can CRESNET
be used as a model that could be duplicated in other OTI country programs?
This report provides OTI Headquarters (OTI/Washington) with a set of “Lessons Learned” and an analysis of the potential for duplicating CRESNET in future OTI country programs. The study is divided into three sections. In the BACKGROUND section, I provide a brief overview of OTI and of Nigeria’s recent political history, and offer a more extensive overview of previous attempts by local NGOs and other international donor agencies to form conflict resolution networks in Nigeria. In the section titled THE CONFLICT RESOLUTION STAKEHOLDER’S NETWORK, I provide a brief history of CRESNET that highlights the role of OTI/Nigeria in the organization’s development. The section concludes with a brief description of CRESNET’s organizational structure and an analysis of its capacity. In the final section, titled Program Analysis, I outline a set of Lessons Learned, and attempt to predict the potential for duplicating CRESNET-like organizations in other OTI country programs by defining a set of critical criteria that I apply to the “priority” countries on OTI’s current Watch List. The Watch List is a listing of countries that OTI is monitoring for signs of political or social transitions. The nine “priority” countries comprise a set of the most likely candidates for an OTI program in the near future.
Six “Lessons Learned” may be drawn from OTI/Nigeria’s experience in developing CRESNET: 1
• The ideal timeframe for the construction of a viable, self-sustaining network under the set of constraints typical of transition countries is a minimum of two years of active OTI support.
• The management structure of the conflict resolution network should be cooperative rather than dependent upon the leadership of a single individual.
• OTI/Nigeria should continue to perform active oversight of all network activities and to closely monitor the use of all OTI funding.
• The network should neither distribute grants nor receive substantial direct funding from OTI.
• OTI should use a participatory approach to program development; such an approach encourages network members to feel ownership and increases the network’s viability.
The promotion of CRESNET members as the leaders of conflict interventions and
activities is vital in improving the network’s
This report defines a set of critical criteria that determine the likelihood of successful duplication in future OTI country programs. These critical criteria include:
• Timeframe available for OTI’s program
• Local commitment to the creation of a conflict resolution network
• Low potential for the recurrence of organized violence
• Management style of the in-country staff
• The capacity and concentration of local NGO power
• Ease of communication and travel
• Ethnic and religious diversity
Some of these criteria are not measurable prior to an in-country assessment or the commencement of an OTI program. Using the measurable criteria, this study reviews the ten countries currently on OTI’s priority Watch List to determine the potential for a CRESNET program. The study finds two countries that are high potential targets for the duplication of this program: Ethiopia and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. On the opposite end of the spectrum, Eritrea is currently the priority Watch List country with the lowest potential for duplication.
A previous report submitted to OTI/Washington in November 2001 provided a more detailed description of CRESNET’s organization, structure and capacity; measured the probable impact of OTI’s withdrawal from Nigeria; and suggested guidelines for the selection of USAID/Nigeria’s Implementing Partner and for the targeting of future USAID grants to CRESNET. The current report includes a summary of only those findings that are relevant to the program analysis.
1 USAID: This is USAID, available at http:/www.usaid.gov/about