CCAPS researchers at the University of North Texas and the College of William and Mary have produced a new resource, the Social Conflict in Africa Database (SCAD), which augments the ability of policymakers and researchers to analyze conflict patterns and possible intervention strategies in Africa. While previous data sources have focused on large-scale conflicts like civil and international wars, SCAD catalogues the myriad ways conflict manifests as political and social disorder.
SCAD includes protests, riots, strikes, inter-communal conflict, government violence against civilians, and other forms of social conflict not systematically tracked in other conflict datasets. SCAD currently includes information on over 7,900 social conflict events from 1990 to 2011, and it will be periodically updated.
Each event record contains information on the location, timing, and magnitude of social conflict events, as well as the actors, targets, issues of contention, and government response. While other data sources contain rich information about armed conflict in Africa, the goal of the SCAD project is to provide researchers, journalists, NGOs, and the policy community more detail about other forms of social conflict.
SCAD is designed to provide users with a comprehensive, methodologically rigorous resource for analyzing social conflict events across the African continent, including all countries with a population of more than 1 million. It compiles events reported by the Associated Press (AP) and Agence France Presse (AFP) from 1990-2011. SCAD is designed for use by academic researchers, as well as by journalists, non-governmental organizations, policy makers, and others interested in African politics.
Each record in SCAD refers to a unique social conflict event. To define an event, the researchers determined the principal actor(s) involved, the target(s), as well as the issues at stake. Events can last a single day or several months. A conflict is coded as a single event if the actors, targets, and issues are the same and if there is a distinct, continuous series of actions over time.
SOURCES OF INFORMATION
The project sources information from keyword searches in Lexis-Nexis, using the AP and AFP news wires. These sources offer the best possible comprehensiveness, coverage, and reliability. The team sorted through thousands of articles and selected those that were related to social conflict events. When there was a discrepancy in reporting, the team took care to use the most widely reported figures and the most recent news coverage about an issue.
SCAD tracks the following information about each conflict event.
ARMED CONFLICT VERSUS SOCIAL CONFLICT
SCAD is mainly a resource for information on social conflict and excludes armed conflict such as organized rebellions, civil wars, and international war (e.g. the war in the Democratic Republic of Congo). There are other superb datasets that provide detailed information about these types of violence. SCAD thus excludes events that were part of organized armed conflicts as defined by the Uppsala University Armed Conflicts Database (ACD). The ACD defines an armed conflict as: “a contested incompatibility that concerns government and/or territory where the use of armed force between two parties, of which at least one is the government of a state, results in at least 25 battle-related deaths in one calendar year.”
During periods in which a country experienced an armed conflict, as defined by the ACD, SCAD contains a “placeholder” row, indicating that an armed conflict was underway. The start and end dates are noted along with summary information about the conflict. Events reported in the AP or AFP that are clearly part of the civil war dynamic during the period in question are excluded from SCAD. Users wanting more information about these events are advised to consult the ACD. In each case, SCAD provides the ACD event id number to facilitate data mergers. In a few cases, it was unclear whether or not an event should be excluded from SCAD, since it was plausibly connected to the civil war. For these cases, there is a column for “Uppsala Questionable” events as a flag to the user.
To validate the data collection methodology, the team double-coded 10% of the country-years in order to check if two researchers identified the same events from the news search and if the information regarding the event was identically inputted. Substantial agreement was found between the coders in all cases. For more details, please consult the codebook.
The complete codebook is available here.