TITLE: Fluid Populations. Porous Borders: Can a Regional Emergency Early Warning mechanism mitigate against the impact of disaster situations? (working title)
AUTHOR: Miss H. Nanjala Nyabola
ORGANISATION: The University of Oxford
P.O. Box 61666
The goal of this paper is to make a case for the development of an integrated early warning mechanism for conflict and emergency situations (including flooding, droughts and cross-border aggression) in East Africa. Operating from a political economy approach, it will first give a political economic background of the town of Mandera in Kenya that will be used as the case study for the paper. Mandera is selected due to its location with porous borders to Ethiopia and Somalia on either side, a location that has made it not only the base for relief efforts into the two country, but also a gateway for arms and illegal substances into Kenya and from there, the rest of Africa. Thus to understand Mandera and its linkages to Kenya, Ethiopia and Somalia is to understand the complex linkages between the three countries and their potential to either exacerbate or ameliorate conflict in the region.
Next, the paper will construct a theoretical framework to justify the creation of such an early warning mechanism and suggest a rudimentary theoretical and institutional constitution of such a mechanism. To do so, it will firstly emphasise the increasing awareness of the interconnectivity of conflicts as reflected by significant shifts in approaches to conflict in the United Nations System. Subsequently, it will highlight the critical indicators that should go into constructing such a mechanism. Finally, it will use this proposed mechanism to highlight the ways in which shortcomings existing responses to emergencies in Somalia and Ethiopia contributed to the current emergency in Mandera, and the ways in which this feeds into insecurity in Nairobi and beyond.
In this way, it will be argued that it is impossible to effectively manage the impact of conflicts on populations and economies, particularly in Africa, characterised by fluid populations and porous borders, without a knowledge collection and management framework. Without such a framework, the goal will continue to be managing versus ending conflicts, preventing East Africa from repositioning itself as a region of great potential but minimal realisation.