We work with the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)—comprised of 15 member countries—to strengthen their response to early warning of emerging conflicts, as part of the USAID REWARD program.
About the Program
In the winter of 2015-2016, Karuna Center began work on a 4½ year program to support the Commission of Peace and Security of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), a 15-nation trading bloc that has emerged as a powerful force for peace. In fall 2015, ECOWAS was widely praised for its use of diplomacy to help reverse a coup in Burkina Faso, allowing democratic elections to take place. ECOWAS includes some areas where Karuna Center has deep peacebuilding experience—such as Senegal, Liberia, and Ivory Coast—as well as places where the Boko Haram insurgency and other conflicts are ongoing.
Our work is a part of a larger USAID-funded project in collaboration with lead implementer Creative Associates International and the project, abbreviated as REWARD,* supports the West African leaders in ECOWAS to respond quicker and more effectively to emerging violent conflicts. While Karuna Center focuses primarily on strategies for effective non-military responses that can prevent the escalation of conflict, another partner in the project, Fund for Peace, offers their renowned expertise on mechanisms for early warning.
In early 2019, we facilitated a training exercise in which 12 departments across ECOWAS developed coordinated, multi-leveled responses to a hypothetical crisis in an imaginary nation. We are now working with ECOWAS to institutionalize systems to better respond to similarly complex conflicts in the real world.
*REWARD is an acronym for Reacting to Early Warning and Response Data.