Conflict map (PDF 132 KB)

This is also called a relationship map or actor map. It uses circles to show the main groups involved in the conflict, and lines to represent the relationships between them. Like most conflict analysis tools, it is best drawn as a group activity, eg with all staff in an organisation or in a community group.

If you are working in conflict, you can use the map to answer questions like:

  • Given our relationships with some groups, how are other groups likely to perceive us?
  • Do we need to form or mend a relationship with anyone on this map?
  • Who on this map benefits from our work? How will that affect the conflict and other groups’ perceptions of us?

 If you are working on conflict, you can also use the map to answer:

  • Which relationships on this map could we restore, strengthen, or create in order to reduce conflict?
  • Can we engage with all the groups who have the most influence in the conflict? 
  • Does our work address the root causes of broken relationships between any groups on this map?

Case study – Afghanistan

Why we need conflict analysis

Tearfund has worked in Kandahar, Afghanistan, for many years. We serve in an informal settlement built on government land, where displaced people from all over the country live without official permission.

One of our projects aimed to help communities reduce their risk of disasters. We began by asking them to identify their greatest risk. Instead of answering ‘flood’ or ‘drought’, this time the answer was ‘the police’. The insurgents living in their neighbourhood were fighting with the police, putting the residents in danger.

Our project was not meant to work on conflict issues, so we asked them to choose a natural hazard instead! We worked on the water project which they requested, but were surprised when some in the government opposed it. Introducing piped water would make the informal settlement more permanent; the community were still seeking to reduce their conflict-related risks, even through our water project. This dispute delayed the project by a few years and put our reputation and staff at risk. We learnt that in a conflict zone, we should always ask, ‘How will people try to use our project to strengthen their position in the conflict?’ People will use our work in ways we have not intended or imagined. Understanding the dynamics of the conflict is essential to avoid these kind of mistakes.