Of the 16 countries that make up the West African sub-region , four have had large scale civil conflict and at least seven have experienced significant low-scale conflicts within the last 25 years, a consequence of multiple interrelated factors. These include:
- political system failures
- social exclusion
- persistent poverty and low levels of economic development
- poor natural resource management
- regional dimensions and spill-over effects from neighbouring countries’ conflicts.
Although large-scale intra-state conflicts have declined, many countries (or parts of countries) remain unstable and new challenges are emerging. These include:
- the impact and legacy of previous conflicts
- global trends and cross-border issues, including organised crime
- climate change and forced migration
- religious radicalisation.
It is thus important to examine data available to monitor these conflict dynamics. However, while the need for data and early warning systems is much documented, not much West Africa-specific data is generated, much less used, in analysing prevailing and potential conflict dynamics in the region.