Implementation – Managing Conflict
20.3 Conflict prevention
It goes without saying that concern for conflict prevention
should have priority over concern for conflict resolution. In
conflict prevention, integrated and decentralised planning models
with effective stakeholder participation and, if needed, transparent
appeal procedures can be very instrumental. One precondition
is, of course, that stakeholders should be equipped with accessible
information systems and relevant capacities.
Avoiding the transition of dispute into conflict is a key
aspect of both institutional development and mobilising political
commitment. Should disputes arise, contractual arrangements
generally recognise explicitly that the parties will seek in “good faith and
a spirit of co-operation” to find an equitable solution.
Sector programme activities should be designed such that
they seek (directly or indirectly) to have peaceful and
agreeable resolutions. Activities should include, for instance:
- stakeholder consultation to ensure inclusive rather than
- mechanisms to strengthen partnerships;
- defined and agreed upon roles and responsibilities; and
- demand-responsive programmes, where the users have both a
voice and choice in decision-making processes, such
as pricing, tariff settings and technical and management options for sustainable
The above will reduce the chances of potential
conflicts. Conflict prevention should therefore strive
for good governance, community-based mediation/participation,
human rights promotion and so on.
Role of participation in conflict
Prior to the last decade, the business practices of the
service sector rarely involved consumers in
decision-making or management. More recently, with concern
that agencies are still failing to reach more than a billion
of the poorest in developing countries, moving people
centre stage in service projects has become an important
Participation plays a central role in conflict prevention.
Involving users in the design and management
of PPP arrangements on services provision provides a
means of revealing demand and ensuring that services
match what people want, are willing to pay for and will
strive to maintain.
The rationale for user participation is summarised
- User participation makes services and service providers
more responsive and accountable to beneficiaries.
- Cost recovery and the sustainability of services improve
when technology choices and services
correspond with what users want and are willing to pay for.
- Management of services is more effective when institutional
arrangements are tailored to local
Demand-based approaches can also
help resolve conflicts over resource
allocation among competing sectoral uses.
Increased participation by primary stakeholders
helps ensure that choices are anchored
in demand and not unduly influenced by
contractors, consultants and other secondary