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Module IV: Dealing with Conflict in Resource Management

Þ This Module provides a basic understanding of the nature of conflicts. It introduces tools for analysis as well as an approach to alternative conflict management.

Training Objective:

To become aware of mechanisms in conflict management and in particular alternative conflict management.

Training Content:

Session 1 - Ways of understanding conflict
Session 2 - Typology of conflicts
Session 3 - Mechanisms to deal with conflicts
Session 4 - Anticipating and addressing latent conflict
Session 5 - Analysing conflicts: General approaches
Session 6 - Analysing conflicts: Stakeholder assessment
Session 7 - Analysing conflicts: Root Causes
Session 8 - Developing a strategy for conflict resolution
Session 9 - Negotiation skills
Session 10 - Advantages and opportunities of conflicts
Session 11 - Closing Session on Conflict Management

Training Outputs:

- To face the common fear of conflicts
- To become familiar with the concept "conflict"
- To become aware of the positive aspects as well as the risks of conflicts
- To gain an idea of alternative conflict management based on local examples


Wherever people with different interests, skills and experiences work together, there is potential for conflicts. Many fear conflict as they regard it as uncomfortable and destabilising. However, when conflicts have been identified and clearly stated at an early stage, there is the chance of positive conflict management and also resolution. But when there is no awareness that conflict is brewing (or no one feels responsible to deal with it), it can become destructive and break a group apart.

In the context of co-managing natural resources, conflicts are likely to arise and may quickly become bitter. This is because access to and use of resources can be a vital requirement for the stakeholders involved - so much so that they would defend it by all possible means. Thus participants of such processes have to be particularly aware of conflicts and their causes as well as of viable strategies - both traditional and alternative - to deal with conflicts.

This module deals with conflict. As a facilitator, however, you should be aware of your own limitations. Opening up a discussion of a latent conflict can result in an escalation of antagonism with which you are unable to deal. Therefore, always try to assess what you feel you and your team are capable of achieving bearing in mind what local people are ready to deal with. For anything more, you should consider bringing outside conflict moderators.

SECTION A: Theoretical and conceptual background

This section provides an approach to conflict management and creates an awareness of its key-issues. It helps participants to understand the relevance of conflict management in their own working environment.

Session 1: Ways of understanding conflict

This session provides an introduction to the term "conflict".

Key Issues:

Proposed Training Strategy

A. Input: introduction to the term "Conflict"

Prepare a short general introduction to the term "conflict". Mention, for example, the relevance of conflict and importance of dealing with conflict in the context of natural resource management. Refer also to the fact that conflicts can also have positive aspects.

B. Positioning: Participants' statements on "Conflict"

This activity helps to identify participants' existing attitudes towards conflict. Prepare a chart with a list of statements on conflicts (see below for an example from the Palmyra Workshop). Ask participants in turn to come up to the chart and identify two of the statements, with which he or she most closely identifies (see Background Materials for the experience from Palmyra). Then hand out a coloured sheet of paper to each of the participants and ask them to keep this paper with them throughout the sessions on conflict and note down all positive aspects of conflicts as well as any other comment or statement, they would like to note about conflict.

"Statements on Conflict" - Examples from Palmyra Workshop

I tend to avoid conflict
I depend on harmony
I always stand up and express my opinion
I hate conflict
I like conflict because it produces results and progress
I often compromise in conflict
I have lost in conflict
Most of my conflicts are with my spouse
Conflict can be good

C. Exercise: Definition and appropriate term for the word "Conflict"

As perception of the concept of conflict can vary considerably from one cultural context to another, it may be necessary to agree on a single Arabic term to use for "conflict" in your workshop as well as to agree upon a common definition for this term. Divide the participants into 3-4 small groups, and ask them to:

- identify the 'ideal' term for the word "conflict" in Arabic
- elaborate an appropriate definition of "conflict".

In a plenary session review all the contributions and agree on a common working term for "conflict" in Arabic. Try to synthesise the different proposals for a definition of the term "conflict", and create a common working definition. (see "Background Materials" for the proposals from the Palmyra Workshop).

Definition of "Conflict" as elaborated by Palmyra Workshop Trainers

"The situation which prevails at any given time between individuals and groups who have or perceive to have competing/incompatible understanding/interests relative to an issue, thing or situation".

Alternative Definition of "Conflict" (Source: DSE)

"A conflict is a process, in which two elements exist at one given time together and they oppose each other or are incompatible."

D. Energiser: "Counting Game"

Introduce the "Counting Game" (see below), as an energiser, to let people think as individuals and in teams, and to help reflect on simple externally determined rules.

"Counting Game" (Source: PL&A)


· to energise participants
· to help reflect on the impact of simple, externally determined rules


1. ask the participants to stand up and form a circle. This can be done anywhere without any extra space needed, as no one will be asked to move

2. tell the participants "We are going to do something very easy... count to fifty. There are only a few rules. Do not say ‘seven’ or any number which is a multiple of seven. Instead clap your hands. After someone claps their hands, the order of the numbering calling is reversed. If someone says seven or a multiple of seven, then we have to start again."

3. when, inevitably, someone accidentally says seven or a multiple of seven, or they forget to reverse the order of counting after someone slaps, then start up the counting at another part of the circle

4. after a few minutes and a few laughs, stop the exercise and tell everyone that we’ll try it again later

5. at another moment when people need some diversion, get people to do the exercise again

6. repeat this 3 or 4 times before the debriefing


In the debriefing, ask the group:

- why was the exercise so difficult?
- what is the relevance of this for your work?

When you first give the instructions, the group says "Oh no problem. Let’s do it" They soon realise, however, that something which everyone assumes they can do comfortably becomes amazingly complex when a few externally determined rules are changed. The key learning point is that when we interact with local people, we often impose rules which are unfamiliar to them, making it difficult for effective communication.


Be aware of the fact, that for this game, participants should have at least some basic formal education in order to know the multiples of seven. If you are not sure, whether all participants do, it may be better to leave out this game or adapt it - otherwise the respective persons may feel embarrassed and uncomfortable.

E. Input: "Conflict is normal"

In order to introduce conflict in a broad sense, prepare a presentation on conflict, which emphasises not only the negative, but also on the positive aspects of conflicts (see below). Discuss the statements with participants and add further ones, if you feel it is necessary.

Example from Palmyra Workshop "Conflict is normal"

During the Palmyra Workshop, the following statements were presented under the heading "Conflict is normal" as an entry point for discussion about conflicts:

- Conflict can be an important force for positive change
- Conflict can usually be managed to allow people to express their views fully and peacefully
- Underlying or latent conflicts should not be avoided

Background Materials

Experiences from Palmyra Workshop: "Statements on Conflict"

During the Palmyra Workshop, most participants found the statement "I tend to avoid conflict" (15 nominations) closest to how they feel, followed by the statement "I hate conflict" (8). A few identified with the statement "Conflict can be good" (5). A very small number recognised the value of the "I like conflict because it produces results and progress" (3). These findings were not unexpected by the trainers. But they hoped, that throughout the course of the workshop, a pronounced shift in participants' attitudes to the last statement would take place.

Experiences from Palmyra: "Translation and definition of the term 'Conflict' "

As there are many different words in Arabic to express aspects of what falls under the broad term ‘conflict’ in English, trainers felt that this exercise was a significant starting point for the workshop participants. In addition, it was felt that an Arabic definition of the term also needed to be considered. The participants were given 30-45 minutes to work in 4 groups to come up with the most suitable translation and definition. At the end of this period, the four groups agreed to use the word ‘khilaaf’ to mean conflict. The groups’ Arabic definition was as follows:

Group 1: It is a difference over rights between one group and another

Group 2: A conflict resulting from a disparity in opinions and interests

Group 3: Difference in opinion over a certain matter

Group 4: Difference of points of view between the conflicting parties either in opinion or of material interests.

Comon points: Opinion/interests = rights/difference

These proposals on a definition were compared with the definition elaborated by the trainers. The consensus in the group was that the trainers' definition of conflict was the most comprehensive and thus the preferred choice for the workshop.

Session 2: Typology of conflicts

This session introduces different types of conflict. It also raises an awareness about the complexity and diversity of conflict. Such awareness is useful, to facilitators and participants alike, in the identification, analysis and management of conflict particularly over natural resources.

Key Issues:

Proposed Training Strategy:

A. Exercise: Typologies of conflict

Divide participants into groups and ask them to develop distinctions on different types of conflict. You can leave the task broad, but must be aware it will probably result in a collection of different conflict situations rather than a real typology. Alternatively you can be quite narrow in this exercise and ask the participants to look for one specific characteristic upon which different types of conflict can organized. Then ask them to prepare a list of different types of conflict on the basis of this one characteristic.


In a plenary session look over the results and discuss with the participants whether the approach of each group is understood by the others. Open up a discussion about the different dimensions and levels of conflict.

B. Trainers' input: Further approaches to typologise conflicts

Make a presentation on additional typologies of conflict (see below). Invite participants to add to your lists, if they have any further ideas. Stress that there are many ways of typologising conflicts, and that the typologies discussed here represent only part of the picture. Move on to a discussion about conflict and your participants’ working environment.

Various Typologies of Conflict

"Levels of interaction"

Conflicts at the household level: This includes conflicts between members of same household, such as siblings, husband and wife, a senior and younger member of a household.

Conflicts at the intra-community level: This category encompasses conflicts between members of the same community.

Conflicts at the inter-community level: This level includes conflicts between two communities or members of two separate communities.

Conflicts at the local level: This level includes conflicts between communities and local-level government or other local institutions.

Conflicts at the national level: These can result from national policies that affect natural resource use.

Conflicts at the international level: This category often includes conflicts that result from migration, trade bans and boycotts and other expressed international interests in a certain resource base.

"Time Based Typology of Conflicts"

Latent conflicts: below the surface, often not visible; these differences are felt but parties have not decided yet how to act or react.

Emerging conflicts: acute conflict issues that may have just erupted, but have not become systemic, or involved anyone beyond the immediate parties.

Manifest Conflicts: disputes that are in the active stage. People have made a decision on how they are going to address the threat to their interest and have selected a method of action.

"Causes and Sources of Conflict"

Interest conflicts: These refer to the actions and emotions by which people become involved to gain or protect their needs.

Information conflicts: Caused by lack of information or differences in same information

Relationship conflicts: Are due to differences of personality and emotions, as well as misperceptions, stereotypes and prejudices.

Structural conflicts: Emerge over differing ideas concerning process, rules and power to control time and space such as in land boundaries, distribution of goods, or resource use issues.

Value conflicts: Refers to clashes between cultural, social or personal beliefs or different world views and traditions.

"Topic-based typology of conflicts"

Conflicts over access: This includes conflicts that result as a consequence of a change in access or inequitable access.

Conflicts due to change in resource quality and availability: The cause of these conflicts can be either a change in the 'amount' or the quality of the resource available to the different parties.

Conflicts regarding authority over resource: Such conflicts stem from a shift in decision-making authority over a resource.

Conflicts that result from differences in use and non-use economic values: associated with the resource as well as differences in cultural, ethical or religious values.

Conflicts associated with information processing and availability

Conflicts resulting from legal/policy interests: These conflicts can result from different interests in different institutions.

C. Discussion: Transferring

In plenary session hold a focussed discussion on how to apply this knowledge of the complexity and diversity of conflicts in the participants working environment. Discuss with the group generally which types of conflict could/did appear in their working environment. Move the discussion to the specifics of co-management of natural resources in the local area (see "Background Materials" for the results and experiences from the Palmyra Workshop).

Concluding the session

Summarise the different typologies and once again emphasise the complexity and different dimensions of conflict. Mention again that the typologies introduced within this session only reveal some of the many possible ways of typologizing conflict. Remind the participants that the approaches to managing conflict are strongly influenced by the type of conflict which exists.

Background Materials

Results and examples from Palmyra Workshop "Typology of conflicts"

In the Palmyra Workshop the broader approach to this exercise - with unspecific tasks - was implemented. Participants were divided into 4 groups to prepare charts. They were given the directions "Look at the different types of conflict" or, stated differently, "What are ways of looking at conflict (typologies)". This exercise required about 40 minutes to complete as each group engaged in heated discussion about how to carry out the exercise. At the close of the exercise each group presented his/her typologies as follows:

Group 1:

Between: Individuals, Groups, Nation.

According to origins of conflict: financial (cash, land, livestock), political (beliefs, religions, power), love.

Group 2:

Moral Conflicts: concerning points of view, attitudes, ideas, beliefs.

Material Conflicts over: land (ownership, investment, range), water, traditions and customs, financial matters, family.

Conflicts can arise between individuals, groups, or nations because of one of the above causes.

Group 3:

Conflicts over: land, women, water, money, opinion, authority, leadership.

Conflicts between: individuals, groups, nations, principles.

Group 4:

Conflicts over: ranges, land ownership, women, leadership.

Conflicts between: spouses, herders and cooperative head, rural organisations over the policies of investing the resources (open or closed pasture)

Trainers' interpretation and analysis:

Group 1 organised conflict according to scale of involvement and aspects of economy, politics and emotion.

Group2 separated conflict out into moral and material types.

Group 3 looked at typologies in terms of causal factors (i.e. land, women, water, money, authority, etc).

Group 4 looked at causal factors closely attached to natural resource use. The latter had a new Bedouin facilitator who contributed significantly to its discussion.

Except for the last, none of the groups had a clear focus or conceptual grasp of how to categorize conflict. In discussion the facilitators tried to draw out the organizing principle of each groups’ contribution. They then moved on to review other models of conflict. These included models based on levels of interaction (individual, family, group, community, etc) time-based typologies (latent, emergent, manifest), and on causal factors (access, availability, authority, etc).

The typologies were then compared and used to discuss the complexity, the different dimensions and the levels of conflict. The facilitators stressed that there were many ways of typologising conflict, and that those typologies elaborated at the workshop only represented part of the picture. The various typologies presented at the workshop were then used to determine the types and levels of conflict, which might be relevant to the participants of the workshop. A focussed discussion was launched (and kept alive throughout the whole workshop) on the possible role of the Project in conflict management. International conflicts and intra-household conflicts were categories which workshop participants immediately excluded as areas where they would have any advantage in assisting in conflict management. Conflicts in Natural Resource Management at community level, between communities, at the provincial level and at the national level were identified as areas of great relevance for the Project.

Session 3: Mechanisms to deal with conflicts

This session discusses some examples of mechanisms and approaches for dealing with conflict in general as well as in the local context.


Proposed Training Strategy:

A. Input: Mechanisms dealing with conflict

Present a simple list of 3 mechanisms/systems which are active or could be activated to manage conflicts.

For example:

- traditional and customary system
- legal system
- alternative systems

Before you offer further information on these systems/mechanisms, ask participants to describe what they understand by these terms. Add to their interpretations, if you feel it is necessary. Allow for questions and further inputs from the participants.

B. Exercise: Case studies on conflict

Divide participants into groups. Hand out pre-prepared material containing case studies which describe different conflict situations. Encourage participants to study these different situations and to identify the causes of the conflicts described. Ask them to decide from which angle the conflict could best be tackled and allow them to elaborate on possible solutions for these conflict situations (see below).


Discuss the different approaches to solving conflict, their advantages and disadvantages, their appropriateness and their transferability. Let participants come up with other situations where these approaches would be helpful and encourage them to give concrete examples of other conflict-solving strategies which they have observed in their local environment.

Experiences from working on case studies during the Palmyra Workshop

During the Palmyra Workshop, participants were divided into groups and given handouts on case studies. They were asked to examine the conflicts described, identify the causes of these conflicts and to propose appropriate solutions. After working on the case studies in groups, the participants returned to the plenary session to "act out" their solutions. Most groups came to the same conclusion in settling conflict. Some put forward more elaborate procedures which required outside mediators and others emphasised the importance of meeting and discussing in small groups. A number of groups appointed leaders by consensus, time-keepers and recorders to manage the process. In all cases, the discussions were open, sometimes "heated", but initiative was taken by all. In each case, there was homogeneity of views and full participation by the entire group.

C. Discussion: Local mechanisms

Invite participants to discuss about local mechanisms of managing conflict. Ask them about these mechanisms’ reliability. Encourage them to talk about those mechanisms which have proved most appropriate in the past (and at present). Also discuss with them the strengths and limitations of the different systems (see below) and the kind of conflicts they best address. Ask them whether they know of any alternative systems beyond those existing in their local environment and whether they see any need to abandon certain systems or adopt additional ones (see "Background Materials for an example from the Palmyra Workshop.

Strengths and Limitations of Approaches to Conflict Management










Respect for local values and customs

Not all people may have equal access to the conflict resolution

Well-defined procedures

Tend to neglect indigenous knowledge

Contributes to process of community self-reliance and empowerment

May not be able to overcome power differences

Provides familiarity and past experience

Courts have supplanted local authority

Decisions are legally binding

Inaccessible to the marginal and poor groups

Encourages participation and respects local customs and values

Decisions are not legally binding

Locally available

Background Materials

Experience from Palmyra "Discussion on local mechanisms for conflict management"

Participants of the Palmyra Workshop were asked to give ‘real’ examples from the desert and to assess which of the above systems (or combination of different systems) were most appropriate in the past and in the present. They were asked to consider the strengths and weaknesses of each approach. The response to this rather complex exercise was not very enthusiasic. The participants seemed unsure of how to respond. Therefore the facilitators presented a pre-pepared flip chart which identified a number of strengths and weakness for each category. These strengths included; for the traditional and customary, the respect for local values and customs, the importance of familiarity and past experience; for legal system, its well-defined procedures and legally binding decisions; and for alternative conflict management, the encouragement it gives to community self-reliance and respect.

They then reviewed the 4 typologies presented earlier and focussed on the fourth typology of conflicts - the topic-related typology of natural resources (see "Background Materials of session 2). This was compared with the chart prepared by Group 4, which had a strong natural resource focus (the typology looked at causal factors of conflict based on conflict over range, land ownership, honour, leadership, spouses, cooperative borders, between herders and cooperatives and between rural organizations over open or closed pastures).

The workshop participants were then asked to identify whether the legal and traditional mechanisms are able to satisfactorily deal with these conflicts. The workshop participants’ response seemed to suggest that the combination of Legal and Traditional mechanisms were satisfactory to handle all the issues raised by Group 4. The question was then asked by one of the facilitators "Does this review show that there are sufficient mechanisms in the Legal or Traditional Process to handle all the type of conflict raised by Group 4". The way in which the question was asked resulted in discussion which suggested satisfaction in the existing two systems. The workshop participants seemed to (mis) understand that the facilitators wanted confirmation that the existing mechanisms - legal (taken to mean government sanctioned mechanisms) and traditional - were satisfactory. The facilitator then raised the provocative question "If this is so, why then have the previous workshops expressed a need to have a workshop on alternative conflict management"? A lengthy discussion ensued during which it became clear that although the workshop participants were concerned with conflicts they were unwilling to express dissatisfaction with the existing legal structure and government. After even further discussion concerning the project and whether it could play any role in conflict management over natural resource use, it was decided that the focus needed to be placed on latent conflict, that which has not yet become manifest but which is a threat to the success of the work of the Project.

In the course of this discussion, the workshop participants expressed their desire to understand more about what ‘alternative conflict management’ actually is and what it’s value might be when compared with existing traditional and legal mechanisms.

SECTION B: Anticipating and preparing for conflicts

This section moves from a theoretical understanding of conflicts to the practical observation of real-life situations in order to anticipate conflicts. It encourages participants to recognise the potential for conflict and to facilitate on-going community activities which deal with conflicts.

Session 4: Anticipating and addressing latent conflict

This session provides two simple tools for identifying areas of potential conflicts. In the context of the workshop this an entry point for addressing latent conflict.


Proposed Training Strategy:

A. Input: Tools for identifying potential conflicts

Introduce the 2 tools "Adapted Planning Matrix" and "Timeline" (see below for examples from Palmyra) for identifying potential conflicts. The "Adapted Planning Matrix" uses the hierarchy of objectives from a project-planning matrix to identify potential conflicts. The "Timeline" encourages participants to consider past conflicts and to think about whether they could emerge again or whether they have been resolved in a satisfactory way.

Draw participants' attention to the strengths and limitations of these tools. Mention that the "Adapted Planning Matrix", on its own, has a rather narrow range of application. It can best be used where projects have been planned according to the "Logical Framework" method. The timeline helps uncover latent conflicts that have existed for some time.

Example for "Adapted Planning Matrix" to anticipate potential areas of conflict

The Project Objectives


Steppe Directorate

Peasants Union

Bedouins in Winter


Private Sector

Guarding the reseeded areas

Very Significant



Top Significant


Development of of ecotourism in Talila


Encourages to a certain extent



Top Significant

Providing opportunities for income generating activities

Seeks with insistence

Strongly supports


Top Significant

Very well

Using the reseeded ranges

Its real business

Supports the idea/decision maker

Basic Stakeholder

Significant (medium)





Basic stakeholder

Very significant

Top significant

Example for a "Timeline " to identify latent or potential areas of conflict




1900 Rangelands for camels/Rwalah & Sabaa tribes/Gazelles existing

1910 Water Wells drilled

1915 Tees planted and lands cultivated

1925 Houses built

1941 Axis Countries were defied by an Arak Chief Water was supplied to IPC Petroleum pipeline stations

Camels and sheep existed

1950 First mayor appointed

Increase in number of hunters

1952 D.O.B. of Arak Cooperative Head

Less gazelles due to over- hunting

1955 Opening first elementary school

Camel breeders migrating to the Gulf states

1959 A draught for 3 years

1963 The age of 8th of March Revolution has started

1970 First Peasant Cooperative established

1975 Decrease in number of camel breeders - more vehicles

1979 Electric power reached Arak

1980 Sheep Fattening Cooperative established

1990 An infirmary was built

1990 Establishment of the reserve

1996 Cultivation banned in Arak lands

1996 Oryx and gazelles introduced

1996 Reseeding Cooperative ranges within the framework of the Project activities

1997 Grazing organised for the camel herders

1998 Allowing herders to have their cattle graze

1998 Sheep introduced to the project/water supplied to herders

B. Exercise: Potential conflicts

Divide participants into groups and ask them to prepare both an "Adapted Planning Matrix" as well as a "Timeline" based on local experience, identifying potential or existing conflicts with a special focus on natural resource management. Ask them to consider mechanisms/systems which could prevent or solve these conflicts (see "Background Materials" for the results and experiences from the Palmyra Workshop).

Background Materials

Experiences from Palmyra Workshop: "Adapted planning matrix" and "Timeline"

The trainers of the Palmyra Workshop asked the workshop participants to work in small groups to examine latent conflicts which relate to the project. Two approaches, using adapted tools introduced in earlier workshops, were suggested for identifying and drawing out potential or latent areas of conflict. Two groups were asked to set up a planning matrix anticipating potential areas of conflict. The facilitators reviewed the use of an "Adapted Planning Matrix" as a supportive tool to identify potential areas of conflict. Its usefulness in designing a long-term strategy for the Project in the area of managing latent conflicts was also explained. The "Adapted Planning Matrix" was set up so as to show some potential stakeholders and some randomly selected project objectives. The task of the working groups was to try to identify the stakeholder’s potential position vis-a-vis the Project objectives.

2 other groups were asked to set up a "Timeline" of Taliila and Arak from 1900 to the present. The groups were given 40 minutes to complete this exercise. The results were discussed in a plenary session, which pin-pointed a number of areas of latent conflict as well as identified areas where the project could offer its services in an attempt to mange latent and emerging conflict.

Session 5: Analysing conflicts: General Approaches

This session creates an awareness of different grades of conflict as well as mechanisms within conflict situations. It provides some tools and approaches for analysing conflict situations. It raises the important point that analysis is the starting point of conflict management.

Key Issues:

Proposed Training Strategy:

A. Role-play Increasing grades of conflict

Ask for 4 volunteers to stage 3 separate role-plays/scenes of conflict in daily life, the second and third role-play showing how conflict is cumulative. Instruct the 4 volunteers to enact a simple breakfast scene which develops into open conflict. In the first scene, a man and his wife quarrel over breakfast of cold coffee and lack of bread. In the second scene build in the the antics of a child, which results in coffee being spilt over an important document that is required by the man’s manager that day. In the third scene an uninvited uncle intrudes and tries to stop the feuding. This can climax with the manager deducting a month’s pay from the man because of the loss of the important docuemnt.


Discuss in plenary session what levels of conflict were observed, and whether there were people taking leadership roles. Ask participants which strategies the people followed, e.g. how they tried to push their interests through (see "Background Materials" for example from Palmyra). Lead the discussion on to the inputs which follow.

Hint for Trainers:

Try to chose actors who are not too self conscious, otherwise they might feel uncomfortable about possibly revealing too much about their private situation. It may be necessary to change the topic of the role-play slightly in order to take into consideration local sensitivities (e.g. gender conflicts).

B. Input: Stages of managing conflicts

Present an overview of the following stages of managing conflicts and open up a discussion putting these stages into the context of the previous role- playing exercise. You may make this more interactive by explaining the respective stages first and then asking participants to identify the respective stages that they observed when watching the role-paying exercise.

Þ Avoidance/Withdrawal
Þ Elimination of source of conflict
Þ Suppression (of minority)
Þ Agreement (collaboration)
Þ Building of Alliance
Þ Finding a compromise
Þ Integration (consensus)

D. Input: Myths of participatory conflict management

Make a presentation of the "myths of participatory conflict management" (see below) so as to highlight the difficult and complex nature of conflict which often appears to be quite simple and straightforward.

"Myths of Participatory Conflict Management"

Myth 1 Shared management means eliminating conflict among staff.

(Fact: With more ideas, there may be more conflict. However, this generally produces better results).

Myth 2 It’s a soft way to manage

(Fact: It’s a hard way - perhaps harder for those at the top than when they simply told everyone what to do. Managers must encourage staff to make decisions and take responsibility for their actions.)

Myth 3 The emphasis on collaboration means the end of competition among staff.

(Fact: Competition should continue, but manager’s challenge is to keep competition focused on performance and not on internal politics.)

Myth 4 The boss no longer makes decisions

(Fact: He or she still does.The difference may be that it is not his or her decision alone.)

Myth 5 The boss never makes autonomous decisions

(Fact: The boss does make such decisions when he has privileged information or when everyone else gets bogged down in trivia).

Myth 6 The boss has to accept what the staff decide

(Fact: The boss still has final responsibility.)

Myth 7 Team commitment to a decision is more important than the quality of the decision itself.

(Fact: Although there is no such thing as the perfect decision, the best decsion paossible must be made.)

Myth 8 The team may make the decision but the boss has the vision.

(Fact: Team members bring a wide variety of knowledge into the process, meaning better vision.)

Myth 9 It takes forever to reach a decision

(Fact: The meetings may take longer, but in such circumstances mangers do not need to spend hours lobbying individual members to get the decision he/she wants)

Myth 10 It takes a long time for participatory management to achieve results.

(Fact: Research shows the opposite. Good results are usually apparent immediately.)

Background Materials

Experiences from Palmyra - Role-play on increasing grades of conflict

At the Palmyra Workshop, the trainers asked some of the project staff members to be ready to take part in a role-playing exercies of conflict in daily life. 4 team members were asked to enact a simple breakfast scene, which developed into open conflict. At breakfast a husband and wife quarrel over cold coffee and lack of bread coupled by the antics of a child, which results in coffee being spilt over an important, document which the boss requires. An uncle intrudes unasked and tries to stop the feuding. This climaxes with the boss deducting a month’s pay form the employee. This scene was met with much mirth, but the features of ‘real’ conflict management, which the facilitators had hoped would emerge, were largely missing. Nevertheless, the role play offered enough material to discuss individual behaviour, communications, and reflections on leadership. A pre-prepared sheet on ‘The Stages of Managing Conflict’ was then used to help analyse the role play, which had just been carried out.

General attention was given to the discussion of leadership and leadership styles a subject, which had been first raised in an earlier workshop. The discussion also shifted from looking at the personal in conflict to the broad context of community conflict and interaction.

Session 6: Analysing conflicts: Stakeholder Assessment

A basic assessment of stakeholders interests is vital for the analysis and development of strategies to avoid conflict situations. First the different people/groups involved in a latent conflict or conflict-bearing situation need to be identified and their positions, interests and needs understood (see also the session on "Developing a strategy for conflict resolution). Then one has a sound basis for the analysis of possible causes of the conflict, as well as acceptable ways to solve it. This session provides a general introduction to the term "stakeholder" as well as some of the tools for the identification and assessment of "stakeholder’ interests.

Key Issues:

Proposed Training Strategy:

A. Introduction: Developing an understanding of the term "stakeholder"

Ask participants to discuss what they understanding by the term "stakeholder". Collect the different ideas and try to summarize the points into one common definition (see below for examples). If participants don't know the term, hold a broad discussion and encourage the exchange of ideas about the concept underpinning this term.

Definition of the term stakeholder - proposal from Palmyra Workshop trainers

The term "stakeholder" is an alternative word used for interested parties. "Stakeholder" refers to a person or group, that is affected, directly or indirectly, by or has an interest in an issue or resource.

Definition of the term stakeholder - proposal from IUCN/gtz

Stakeholders (also called "institutional actors") can be a community, a public entity, a group or an individual who organises itself, takes action to gain social recognition of its own interests and concerns and is willing to assume some task and responsibility for a given natural resource management unit.

B. Input: How to identify stakeholders

Point out that it is sometimes quite difficult to identify the stakeholders in a some situations. There are 2 dangers - identifying too many or not all relevant stakeholders. With enough discussion about indirect connections nearly all groups in a certain region could be identified as stakeholders concerning a certain activity. On the other hand side, people trying to identify stakeholders often tend to forget those who are marginal or neglected locally anyway. The checklist below gives some guidance in identifying stakeholders.

Checklist for identification of stakeholders in the context of co-management of natural resources (Source: adapted from IUCN)

"Identifying potential institutional actors (stakeholders): a checklist"

C. Exercise: Elaborating a list of stakeholders

Introduce 3 conflict related topics from the local context of your participants. Use the first one as an example and, in plenary, develop a list of the topic’s stakeholders. Note firstly those stakeholders who are immediately identifiably and then complete the list by going through the checklist to add missing ones. Then divide the participants into 2 groups and let each group work on their own identifying the stakeholders of the other two topics.


In plenary, go through the results and discuss whether they provide a complete and adequate overview. Check to see if all relevant stakeholders are represented and also whether there are not too of them on the lists. Keep an eye out for missing or surplus stakeholders and try to analyse the reasons for either leaving out or taking in some group(s).

D. Input: Stakeholders Matrix

Introduce the "Stakeholders Matrix" as a tool to provide an overview of stakeholders as well as their expected positions, assumed interests, and needs (see below for an example). Emphasise that such an assessment of stakeholders is helpful and legitimate at an early stage of analysis, however participants should bear in mind that the factors represented in the matrix are based on their own assumptions and not on direct information received from the respective groups.

"Stakeholder Assessment Matrix" - Example from Palmyra Workshop

Stakeholders concerning Integration of the salt lake into the reserve

Potential stake-holders/ Potential position


Salt producers

Ministry of Environment

Tourist projects

The Project FAO/Italy


Ministry of Agriculture

Economic use

Preservation and biodiversity

Effect on underground water

Bird watching


Salt traders/ Needs

E. Exercise: "Stakeholder Assessment"

Invite participants to go back into the 2 groups that had worked together in the earlier exercise. Put up the example of a stakeholders matrix and ask both groups to fill in their matrices, referring to the conflict related topic they dealt with before and using the stakeholder lists they had already established (see below and also " Background Materials" for the results and experiences from the Palmyra Workshop).

Results of participants' work on "Stakeholder Matrix" from Palmyra Workshop

Group 2 Stakeholder Analysis of ECO-TOURISM in TALILA

Stakeholders/Potential positions

Talila Project

Peasants Union

Bedouins (settled)

Private Sector

Ministry of Environment

Economic use

significant An income for the project via recreational activities

cooperative members shall benefit

very significant - employing a great number of camel herders/handicraft

V. significant/hotels/restaurants/transport



Significant to the project’s objectives

Significant: Re-seeding the ranges shall help in preserving biodiversity

Significant: preserving the natural resources: flora/fauna

Less significant

very significant as preserving biodiversity is a very necessary

Tourism promotion

Very Significant



Very Significant


The social aspect

Significant: one of Project ‘s objectives is to increase awareness among students and researchers and encourage their studies.

Significant: one of the cooperative’s objectives

Significant: contact with outside world

Significant for children

Significant: increasing the ecological awareness

Concluding the session

Reinforce the meaning and concept of the term "stakeholder". Emphasise the importance of involving stakeholders and assessing their needs and interests. Stress that different interests and perspectives underlie nearly every conflict.

Background Material

Experience in completing a "Stakeholder Matrix" from Palmyra Workshop

During the Palmyra Workshop, trainers presented a partially completed stakeholder matrix, as an example, to the participants to consolidate their understanding of the stakeholder concepts. This was presented as a pre-prepared flip chart of stakeholders and their positions in terms of the "Integration of the Salt Lake into the Protected Areas". Among the stakeholders were the Ministry of Agriculture, the local cooperatives of the Peasant’s Union, the Project, Tourism Enterprises, the Ministry of Environment, Commercial salt providers, and the Bedouin. Among the potential interests were economic use, conservation and biodiversity, impact of the water table, bird watching, recreation and local salt production/needs. Several areas of the matrix were filled in advance by the facilitators, to highlight the various assumed positions of stakeholders to this possible development

The facilitators then divided up the participants into 4 pre-selected groups. Each group was organized in such a way as to have at least three different stakeholder groups represented. Each had a member of the project staff, a member of the Cooperatives, and a Bedouin facilitator as part of the team. This was to encourage each team member to try and represent one stakeholder and its position. The groups were separated into 2 sets. One set was asked to conduct a stakeholder analysis of Eco-tourism in Taliila and the other set a stakeholder analysis of the Drought of 1999. The groups were given 45 minutes to develop their matrices. The facilitators moved around helping the groups to set up their criteria and to commence with the assessment. This proved a difficult exercise, as many of the participants had not applied these techniques before. The discussion of the group work revealed a difficulty in finding criteria of a similar kind.

Session 7: Analysing conflicts: Root Causes

This session aims to clarify what are root causes. Often factors which seem to cause a conflict are not the real root causes. Participants need to develop a sensitivity to this and learn how to identify causes and root causes of conflicts.

Key Issues:

Proposed Training Strategy:

A. Eye-opener: The Scissors' Game

Introduce and the scissors' game (see below) in order to create awareness of:

- the fact that causes of certain behaviour are not always those which seem to be the most obvious
- our tendency to look first at the most obvious causes of certain behaviour

"The Scissors Game"

Ask a pre-selected group of participants to sit on chairs in a circle. This group will have already have been briefed on how to play the ‘scissors game’. The facilitators should join them. Take a pair of scissors, keep it closed and hand it over to the person sitting next to you, saying "open". The scissors should be passed on from person to the next in the circle. Each time the scissors is passed on the person holding it should say either "open" or "closed".

Each time the scissors are handed over, you have to comment on whether the right adjective was chosen. While participants will most probably think that the adjective refers to the scissors, it actually refers to the position of the leg’s of the person holding the scissors. If they are crossed, the person says "closed". If they are not, the person should say "open".

The idea behind this exercise is that although some cause-effect-relation might seem obvious in the beginning (whether the scissors or open or closed), there is actually another ‘reality’ behind what seems obvious (whether we have our legs crossed or not). The main lesson that is to be learned from this exercise is that we have to maintain an open and observing attitude in order to find out what are the reasons behind the things you see.

B. Role-play: Story "Father and Son"

Ask 3 participants to volunteer as actors and explain to them the "Father and Son" story (see below) and give them detailed instructions on how to perform the role play. Let them perform the role-play exercise in front of the whole group after which you should conduct a discussion about the difference between causes and root causes in the managing of conflict situations.

Role-play Exercise "Father and Son"

This short role-play exercise is meant to show that something which appears to be the cause of a problem or conflict may be simply a superficial cause. The real root-cause underlying the conflict may not be immediately apparent.

Ask 3 participants to volunteer as actors. Hand out the roles of a father, a son and the father’s manager. Explain the role play as follows: In the morning, father and son are in a very good mood. They leave their home together joking with each other. The next scene shows the father at his work, where he is carrying heavy things from one place to another. While he is working, the manager comes along and pushes him. As a result, one of the boxes falls down and the goods inside break. Although it is not the fault of the father, the manager starts shouting at him and insulting him. The father tries to defend himself but the boss is becomes even more angry accusing him of being contrary and badly educated. In the end the boss says that the father will have to pay for the broken goods which means that half of the father’s monthly salary is lost. The father is furious but does not say anything in order not to make the situation worse. When the father gets home he finds that the son has already prepared the table for dinner. The father greets him in a bad mood and they sit down to eat. The son wants to pour some water from a jar into the father’s glass. By mistake, he spills the water all over this father, who hits him and starts shouting at him.


Refer mainly to the activities between father and son. Ask the participants what is the cause of the conflict between father and son. Discuss the fact that, although it seems to be the spilt water, the root cause of the father’s reaction is his frustration and anger over the unjust treatment by his manager. In another context he might have even laughed about the son’s clumsiness.

C. Input: "Conflict -Tree-Analysis"

(Re-) introduce the PRA-tool "Flow Diagram" and demonstrate its' appropriateness as a tool to analyse causes and root causes of conflicts. Use a simple example to elaborate "Conflict Tree" (see below for an example from Palmyra). Allow for questions and comments and emphasise the fact that latent conflict can be addressed by solving issues at various levels.

Insert "conflict tree" from Palmyra IV annex III p

D. Exercise: Analysis of conflict causes

Invite participants to work in groups and give them each one example of potential local conflict (e.g. refer back to the Matrix and Timeline exercises). Ask them to develop their own "Conflict Tree Analysis" of the conflict they are analysing (see " Background Materials" for experiences from Palmyra Workshop).

Concluding the session

Emphasise the different levels of causation in conflict. Also reiterate the power of the "Flow Diagram" as a tool to facilitate analysis and in the process of conflict management. Stress however that the "Flow Diagram" analysis is not an quick and easy tool to use. It takes time for participants to agree on the different levels and hierarchies of causes and root causes of conflict.

Background Materials

Experiences with the "Conflict Tree" from Palmyra Workshop

At the Palmyra Workshop a ‘conflict tree’ analysis was prepared by the trainers which looked at the latent conflict which existed in Arak village as the result of the ban on agriculture in the Badia. This chart clearly showed that potential conflict exists at several levels and has multiple aspects. The ban on cereal cultivation, the needs of multiple users competing for high potential areas, the gap in local institutions to handle local management of natural resources are examples of one level of potential conflict. The change in cooperative policies, the dismantling of tribal structure, the change in government policy, the farmers interests in cultivation, the herders interest in range, and in barley production for fodder represent another level of potential conflict. Water limitations, soil depletions, are yet another set of root causes of conflict in Arak. What the problem tree makes clear is that latent conflict can be managed by solving issues at various levels in the ‘problem’ tree. For example, a solution to the water shortage in the area could have dramatic effects on another level of the ‘problem tree’.

The trainers stressed the power of the tool to facilitate and structure discussions in the process of conflict management. In addition they stressed as well how difficult and time-consuming it is to build a ‘problem tree’ and to agree on the different levels and hierarchies of the root causes of conflict.

SECTION C: Managing actual conflict

This section examines actual conflict. It introduces some concepts and trust-building tools for tackling actual conflict and identifying solutions.

Session 8: Developing a strategy for conflict resolution

After an assessment of stakeholders has been made and a draft analysis of the conflict has taken place, a strategy for conflict resolution can be developed. This session demonstrates the process of developing such a strategy.

Key Issues:

- identification of opportunities for collaboration
- steps in Alternative Conflict Management

Proposal on Training Strategy:

A. Input: Stakeholders Interests and Opportunities for Collaboration

Make a presentation on the terms "position" and "interests", giving definitions and examples. Then introduce areas of overlapping interests/mutual interests as opportunities for collaboration (see below and in "Background Materials" for examples from Palmyra).

"Stakeholders Interests": Trainers' input in Palmyra Workshop on (Source: Cornell University)




A specific outcome or action perceived as meeting immediate needs

"Local community member must stay outside of the National Park".


The underlying motivations - needs, fears and concerns, social and cultural beliefs and values - that parties hope to advance.

"We are concerned about the impact of subsistence harvesting on the park’s biodiversity".

Improving Opportunities for Collaboration: Moving from Positions to Interests

(Source: adapted from Grzbowski et al 1998)

B. Input: Example on alternative conflict management

Introduce an example (preferably from participants’ local own experience) of the possibilities and approaches of alternative conflict management. Invite participants to suggest other examples and analyse together the steps it took to solve the conflict (see below for an example from Palmyra).


(Case Study of the Project)

C. Input: Steps of Alternative Conflict Management

Make a presentation on the Steps of Alternative Conflict Management as an ideal strategy for conflict resolution (see below).

Steps of Alternative Conflict Management

Step 1

Analysis of conflict

Root causes


Stakeholders’ positions

Step 2

Identify common grounds

Step 3

Identify joint objectives

Step 4

Each party suggests a solution

Step 5

Identify all positive forces

Identify all negative forces

Step 6

Compare and look for common elements

Step 7

Discuss resources needed to support solutions

Step 8

Identify compromises acceptable all sides

Step 9

The process builds trust

Notes: Attention needs to shift from confrontation to collaboration

Launching a process of collaboration requires removing smaller obstacles to reach the heart of the conflict

D. Game/Role Play: Participants work on a fictional example of Alternative Conflict Management (ACM)

Invent a fictitional conflict situation with different interest groups holding different positions. Define the situation in some detail and take time to on the different interest groups and their perspectives and rationalities. Then divide your participants into groups. Ask each group of participants to take on the role of one interest groups. Explain to each group what their role is in the game without letting the others hear. Then let them perform the role-playing exercise, each group defending their interests and positions and leading themselves forward to engage with the steps of Alternative Conflict Management.

E. Discussion: Participants’ assessment of Alternative Conflict Management

Engage the participants in a discussion of the approaches and steps of Alternative Conflict Management. Ask them how applicable they feel it is in some of the conflict situations they know. Let them discuss how they might change the approach if it was to be applied in their working environment or other conflict situations they might know of.

Concluding the session

Make participants aware of how complex the process of Alternative Conflict Management is. Emphasise, that when it comes to real life conflicts - with the large number of stakeholders and different interests - such a process can take months or even years to be sorted out. Above all it requires commitment, motivation and patience from all parties involved.

Background Materials

"Opportunities for Collaboration": Trainers' input from Palmyra Workshop on (Source: adapted from Cornell University)

The Disadvantages of Holding to a Position

Advantages of Focussing on Interest

· Concrete

· Broad concept - covers a range of underlying motivations

· Lacks flexibility

· More possible outcomes

· Single outcome

· Encourages maximum discussion

· Demands results in short-term

· Suggests long-term approaches to meeting needs

· Closed to new options

· Flexibility opens the possibility for the pursuit of new opportunities to benefit from collaborative arrangements (?)

Session 9: Negotiation skills - empowerment of stakeholder groups

This session aims to make participants aware that there are different approaches to negotiation in conflict management. These have different advantages depending upon the situations and may help to provide an equilibrium between stronger and weaker groups in the negotiation process.

Key issues:

- power building
- negotiation skills

Proposed Training Strategy:

A. Input: Power Building Tactics, BATNA and Conflict Negotiation

Prepare a presentation on Power Building Tactics and different approaches to negotiation in conflict management, using the example from the Palmyra workshop (see below and also see "Background Materials").

"Power Building Tactics": Trainers' input from the Palmyra Workshop


Strengthen Local Organisations
Develop Common Vision and Goals
Bring Forward Sound Information
Introduce New Actors (NGOs, Media, Technical Experts)
Work towards Transparency
Democratise the Process
Create Opportunities for Leadership
Reinforce Local Traditions
Educate People about their Rights, Responsibilities and Obligations.

"Different forms of Conflict Negotiation": Trainers' input in Palmyra Workshop

Conciliation is an..........

· attempt by a neutral third party to communicate separately with disputing parties for the purpose of reducing tensions and agreeing upon a process for resolving the dispute

Negotiation is a.............

· voluntary process in which parties meet face to face to reach a mutually acceptable resolution of the issue

Mediation is the............

· assistance of a neutral third party to a negotiation process. mediators have no power to render a decision

B. Discussion: Transfer to participants’ working environment

Invite participants to discuss your presentation. Look at such issues as: which tactics would be helpful in the participants’ working context; which groups would profit from which kind of negotiation process; which alternatives to previously identified solutions exist. Encourage them to come up with their own experiences in successful/unsuccessful negotiation processes and exchange ideas about factors that contribute/hinder successful negotiation processes.

Background Materials

Best Alternative to a Negotiated Settlement (BATNA)


Review of Conflict

- What are the central issues to this conflict?
- Who is involved?
- What kind of outcome do I hope to achieve?
- Which Resolution Method would best help me to reach that objective?
- What are the potential outcomes with that method?
- The Best Outcome
- Minimal Outcome
- The Worst Outcome

Address the Alternatives

- Are there any issues that I am unwilling to negotiate?
- What alternatives do I have to satisfy my interests if we do not reach an agreement?
- What would be the best alternative?

Strengthen the BATNA

- What can I do to achieve my interests?
- Are there additional resources that may be required?
- Will I need extra time or financial support?

Consider the Other Party’s BATNA

- What do they think their key interests might be?
- What might they do if you do not reach an agreement?

Session 10: Advantages and opportunities of conflicts

The purpose of this final session on conflict management is to re-enforce the positive aspects of conflicts and encourage participants to face up to conflicts instead of avoiding them.

Key Issues:

- positive aspects of conflicts
- new attitudes towards conflicts

Proposed Training Strategy:

A. Discussion: Positive Aspects of Conflict

Refer back to the coloured paper which you handed out participants during the second session in this Module (on "Positioning"). Collect and discuss participants' responses. On a flip chart create a list of positive aspects which they have identified and on a second note their additional statements. Allow a brief discussion adding further comments if if you feel some factors/items are missing.

B. Positioning: Comparing statements

In a plenary session, look back over the statements which the participants made at the beginning of the session on conflict management (session 2:"Positioning"). Compare these with the statements which have emerged from the coloured paper exercise. Ask them to select those statements which most closely describe their current attitude towards conflicts. Insert these choices into the pre-prepared flipchart which also shows the results of the first positioning of session 2. Identify the differences between the two and analyse what made people change their attitudes.

Concluding the session

Emphasis the positive aspects of facing up to and addressing conflict. Point out that the natural attitude of most people to shy away from conflict also has its justification. Give a gentle reminder that one should not enter into latent conflict situations with too naive or optimistic an attitude. Before provoking a situation of confict, one should be sure he/she has the skill to handle what might emerge.

Session 11: Closing session on conflict management

The closing session aims to address or clarify any unanswered questions, return to discussion points which could not be dealt with earlier and offer an opportunity to look future activities concerning conflict management in participants' local environment.

Key Issues:

- outstanding or issues and questions
- looking forward

Proposed Training Strategy:

A. Input: Open Question Board

Put the training helper "Open Question Board", in a position where everybody can see it. Start reading out the questions one by one, inviting first participants to come in with their own answers. Give your input only when they can't come up with an answer. Invite further questions from the participants and find answers in the same way as before.

B. Discussion: Rolling-up

Invite participants to come up with any idea, observation, critical remark or wish for further discussion which they may have concerning the topic of conflict as well as other topics emerging from the workshop. Plan enough time for this session so as to deal with any situation during the workshop where you did not have enough time to deal with the topic. It is important to provide time for such discussions in order not to let participants leave the workshop dissatisfied.

C. Outlook: Working context of participants

Invite participants to describe the observations or conclusions they have drawn from the workshop concerning local conflict situations. Ask them to talk about whether any of these lessons might be applied to their personal lives and/or any of these lessons might provide preliminary directions for future strategies or activities.

Concluding the session

Summarise your experiences of dealing with the topic of conflict within this training section and encourage participants to meet each others from time to time to exchange experiences, report on their achievements and discuss together the problems they may face in conflict management.

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