2.2 Slower onset and more detailed analysis

Where more time and access permit it, a deeper analysis can be undertaken that draws from multiple perspectives and voices. The process for a conflict analysis should consider:

  • Is analysis done in a participatory way, involving a range of staff, beneficiaries and other key stakeholders (different local groups, other local and international NGOs, academics, etc.)?
  • Is analysis complex and comprehensive? Does it reflect a variety of viewpoints-local, national, regional and international perspectives? Does it use a variety of different tools and information sources?

A good analysis will use a variety of tools to understand different aspects of conflict and its complexity. See below suggested questions for a more detailed conflict analysis, and to Annex 6.4 How to Guide to Conflict Sensitivity. 


  • What is the history of the conflict?
  • What is the wider political, economic, social and cultural context?
  • What are the key conflict issues?
  • Where are the conflict-affected/prone areas geographically located?


  • What are the root and proximate causes of conflict? Root causes are the real issues at the centre of the conflict (whether violent or latent) that need to be resolved. Proximate causes are factors that increase the possibility of conflict becoming violent or further escalating, such as the availability of small arms or financial resources to buy them, or the support of scattered groups and external supporters.
  • What are the structural causes of conflict? Structural causes are built into the policies, structures and fabric of society, and may help create the preconditions for violence. For example, discriminatory policy, inequitable resource allocation, and lack of opportunity for political participation and representation in government.
  • What are the triggers of conflict? Triggers are specific acts or events (or anticipation of them) that raise tension and set off or escalate violence. For example, assassination or imprisonment of a key figure, sudden key commodity price increases, electoral periods and culturally significant dates.
  • What emerging trends are contributing to conflict? For example, radicalisation of conflict parties, development of a war economy, discovery of new natural resources or mass migration.
  • What factors currently contribute to peace? For example, communication channels between conflict parties, shared cultural events/practices or local peace initiatives.


  • Who are the main actors in the conflict? How are they interlinked? Which are opposed and which are allied or have common cause?
  • What are their main interests, goals, positions, capacities and relationships? Interests refers to their underlying motivations; goals refers to the strategies they use to achieve those interest; positions refers to the solutions the actors present on key issues; capacities refers to the actors’ potential to affect the conflict positively or negatively and could include a power analysis; and relationships refers to the interactions between different actors and their perceptions of those interactions.
  • What actors support capacities for peace? (these could be institutions, groups or individuals)
  • What actors are or might become spoilers who could undermine a peace process?


  • What stage is the conflict at? What are the past and current conflict trends? How has violence changed over time? At what times does it escalate/de-escalate and why?
  • What are the windows of opportunity? Are these being utilised?

What are the best, worst and most likely scenarios for the future of the conflict based on the above information? What does each scenario depend on? This is essential to plan alternative responses.

In addition to analysing the conflict itself, it is critical to analyse the link between the conflict and the planned emergency response intervention, and to incorporate this analysis in programme planning.

It is crucial to consider all different aspects of the intervention and to determine what impact response activities may have on conflict dynamics, including choice of location, sectoral focus, identification of beneficiaries, selection of local partners, procurement procedures, distribution patterns, security arrangements, financial inputs and other resources, staffing profile, timings, processes of consultation, relationships with local authorities or other powerful groups, communications, and advocacy.

Reflection on the nature of the intervention should take place at all stages of the project cycle. Key questions to answer are: to/by whom, where, what, how and when support will be provided.

To/by whom

  • How does the selection of beneficiaries relate to divisions existing within a community/country?  Are processes to assess needs and select beneficiaries transparent and well publicised within the wider community? Is the community involved in this selection?
  • Are project staff actually (or perceived to be) neutral or party to the conflict?
  • Do partner agencies (local or international) have a role (real or perceived) in the conflict? What are their relationships with other actors? How are they perceived by the beneficiary community?


  • What is the pattern/status of land ownership in the response area? Are land titles disputed?
  • Does the geographical boundary of the response coincide with lines of division in conflict, with specific ethnic, economic or political groupings?
  • Will access to this area have to be negotiated? What opportunities will initial contacts provide for setting ground rules? Will negotiations provide legitimacy to certain actors?
  • Does the location of our offices, beneficiaries or construction/service/distribution sites convey messages about stronger relations with one group or another?


  • What aid resources are being introduced to the context? This might include financial resources, material programme inputs, local and international staffing, office/transport infrastructure, information, and access.
  • Could aid resources be diverted, stolen or otherwise enmeshed in a war economy? Could beneficiary groups be manipulated to ensure benefit from these resources?


  •  What time-bound conflict triggers exist alongside the intervention? Are annual cycles of offensive linked to seasonal change, political/electoral processes, key dates, etc.
  • How does the timeline of the intervention relate to windows of opportunity or vulnerabilities?

When are distributions planned? The season, day or even time of day can all affect vulnerability to violence.

At this stage, use of a tool such as Do No Harm is recommended. Expertise from within and outside CARE can be employed to assist with this.

Once used a risk register can be created with conflict flashpoints highlighted, indicators identified to monitor how the project and context are interacting, and thresholds set for action.