social conflict analysis database

CCAPS researchers at the University of North Texas and the University of Denver developed the Social Conflict Analysis Database (SCAD), which augments the ability of policymakers and researchers to analyze conflict patterns and possible intervention strategies in Africa and Latin America. The newly updated and extended version of SCAD covers all of Africa and now also Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.

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 nearly 20,000 social conflict events from 1990 to 2015. 

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 Africa, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean. The database includes 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 1990-2015.  SCAD is designed for use by academic researchers, as well as by journalists, non-governmental organizations, and policy makers.

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.


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.

  1. Start and end dates. SCAD lists the start and end date of eachFor some events, these dates are an approximation, which is noted.
  2. Event type. SCAD classifies events as one of ten types:
    1. Organized demonstration: demonstrations organized by a formal group or organization.
    2. Spontaneous demonstration: demonstrations without formal organization.
    3. Organized riot: rioting organized by a formal group or organization.
    4. Spontaneous riot: rioting without formal organization.
    5. General strike: a labor strike affecting many industries or sectors.
    6. Limited strike: a labor strike limited to a single industry or sector
    7. Pro-government violence: repression initiated by government actors or violence in support of the government.
    8. Anti-government violence: violence against government targets by permanent or semi-permanent militias.
    9. Extra-government violence: violence involving at least one permanent or semi-permanent militiaGovernment forces are not included as an actor or a target (e.g. communal conflict).
    10. Intra-government violence: fighting between two armed factions within the government (e.g. mutinies or coups).
  3. Escalation. This notes whether or not the type of action changed over the course of the event.
  4. Actors and targets. This provides the name of the principal actor(s) and targets(s)SCAD also notes whether or not the event targeted the central government or a regional government.
  5. Number of participants.
  6. Number of deaths.
  7. Repression. This notes whether or not the state used repression to subdue the event, and notes whether repression was lethal or non-lethal.
  8. Location. This notes the name of the town or region in which the event occurred and gives a numerical coding for the type of location (e.g. urban or rural). The full download version of the data also includes longitude and latitude coordinates for all events. See the codebook for more details. 
  9. Issues.This notes up to three issues associated with the event.
  10. Brief description of the event.
  11. Notes. When there were inconsistencies in reporting, approximations, or other potential issues with the event record, this field provides comments to the user. 


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.