The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) has developed an early warning system using the internet and mobile phones in villages throughout the region to report indications of potential violence when tensions mount among tribes, political parties, or ethnic groups. The system is integrated with the Economic Community Of West African States (ECOWAS), and it is called ECOWARN.
In the late 1990s, the Medical Network for Social Reconstruction in the Former Yugoslavia used mobile connectivity to promote reconciliation throughout that war-ravaged region. During carefully moderated radio call-in shows, people called in on their mobile phones and told their stories anonymously. This process was particularly striking after the publication of Svetlana Broz’s book, Good People in an Evil Time. Dr Broz, daughter of Tito, compiled testimonies from war survivors about good things that people did for each other across conflict lines. Radio call-in shows linked survivors in Bosnia, Serbia, and Croatia, fulfilling Broz’s “desire to reaffirm goodness as the ultimate postulate at a time of prevailing evil…”
A project, Alive in Afghanistan, was set up to monitor Afghanistan’s August 2009 election by receiving text messages and compiling the resulting information. Users of mobile phones were encouraged to observe local polling places and submit text-message reports about adverse incidents, such as abuse of voters or vote tampering, and about positive incidents. The resulting data were compiled, cross-checked, tagged to indicate the extent to which they could be verified, and posted for public access using a mapping tool known as Ushahidi, which was developed in Kenya. This project is a form of structural peacebuilding, and also enhances the political domain of human security.