EWER Trimester Report 5 (Jun-Sep 2010)

December 15, 2010

EWER Trimester Report 5 (Jun-Sep 2010)


Executive Summary

This report comprises a summary of monitoring by BELUNai??i??s conflict Early Warning and Early Response program (EWER). Between June and September, local monitors in 39 target sub-districts ai??i?? three in each district across the country ai??i?? returned reports on the level of community tension. Every incident of violence from these locations was detailed, and measures taken on sixty-three social, economic, political and external factors ai??i?? all established precursors to violence. The analysis of these reports allows a better sense not only of localized concerns, but also trends at the national level.

This trimester has been a difficult time for many communities, with natural phenomena such as storms, landfalls and flooding disrupting the usual harvest cycle. Rural sub- districts rely heavily on agriculture to sustain them, and the subsequent strain can be seen in increased food security pressures, a decline in the availability of local produce, and slowing trade. Monitored locations felt this to varying extents, with urban areas appearing to be cushioned from the worst of the disadvantage.

For all this, the dynamics of violent conflict appear to provide some cause for optimism. Not only is the rate of such confrontation down ai??i?? to an average of seven incidents per sub-district over the trimester ai??i?? but the nature of the confict appears to be less intense. Incidents now more commonly comprise only verbal threats: fighting, both between individuals and groups, is declining. Martial arts groups are notably less often implicated in violent incidents. Contests over land are a consistent source of tension. Neighbours and farmers are often involved in attacks, but most are between members of the community with no established relationship ai??i?? this may indicate the impact of alcohol in some cases. Family members were again a demographic all too often represented in violence, and situation data confirms that domestic assaults and sexual violence are regular occurrences in many communities across the country. Responses to conflict were fortunately robust, with community members at least as likely to step in to quell a violent dispute as the police. PNTL continue to improve their engagement with the community, and are now widely seen as contributing positively to public safety.

Whilst rural communities were hit hardest by unseasonal weather patterns, the sort of development assistance that might have mitigated such disadvantage appears to have been least in evidence there. Although there remain some infrastructure projects that are boosting livelihoods (though probably temporarily), remote areas are less well served, according to the data, by aid. Alternate income generation schemes, and retraining, are much needed in the districts, but appear from monitoring to be clustered predominantly around urban centres. This reflects difficulties imposed by maintaining effective logistics and distribution networks across a diffuse populace and hard terrain.

Regional centres face a somewhat different set of challenges, which likely reflect, at least in part, the continued influx of young job-seekers. Unfortunately, unemployment is a common result. Additionally, problems of gambling and of alcohol (and, to a lesser extent, drug) use are reportedly on the rise. Further evidence of the desperation felt by this segment of the population is seen in more numerous reports of prostitution. With all of this frustration and dissatisfaction building, it is hardly surprising to find that much of the blame is being directed at political leaders. Whilst previous monitoring typically noted political apathy, there is ai??i?? in some quarters ai??i?? a real belief that the authorities have failed to keep promises to their constituency. Monitoring data suggests this may well find expression in a push for better representation of rural interests. Some recommendations for addressing this issue (and others) are listed in the report.