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Analysing low intensity conflict in Africa using press reports


  • Philippe Bocquier

    () (DIAL, IRD, Paris)

  • Hervé Maupeu

    () (IFRA Kenya)


(english) Unreliability and biases prevent us from analysing homicides using direct sources in most African countries. Victimisation surveys in Africa proved to be considerably biased regarding the recording of homicides. In the absence of more reliable and exhaustive sources, press reports can reflect at least some specific causes of death, on condition that a political analysis of the relation between the press and the political power is conducted. In this paper, using data collected from a leading Kenyan newspaper, we were able to depict the deaths since 1990 due to three main causes of collective violence : State violence (essentially the police), community clashes and banditry. We used a historical as well as geographical approach to determine the level and trend of the number of deaths as a consequence of organised crime and political conflicts. In addition, this analysis has helped us to point out the discrepancies between the press discourses on insecurity and political violence, and the reality of deaths reported by the very same press. _________________________________ (français) Les sources directes sur les homicides ne sont généralement pas, en Afrique, suffisamment fiables et souffrent de biais. Les enquêtes de victimation en Afrique se révèlent également très biaisées en ce qui concerne l’estimation des homicides. En l’absence de sources plus fiables et exhaustives, les articles de presse peuvent au moins refléter quelques causes de mortalité spécifiques, à condition qu’une analyse politique des relations entre la presse et le pouvoir politique soit parallèlement conduite. Dans ce document, nous utilisons des données recueillies dans un quotidien majeur du Kenya pour décrire depuis 1990 les décès dus à trois sources de violence collective : la violence d’état (essentiellement la police), les violences communautaires et le banditisme. Nous utilisons une approche à la fois géographique et historique pour déterminer le niveau et la tendance du nombre de décès résultant du crime organisé et des conflits politiques. Notre analyse permet de plus d’identifier les divergences entre les discours parus dans la presse sur l’insécurité et la violence politique, et la réalité des décès rapportés dans cette même presse.

Suggested Citation

  • Philippe Bocquier & Hervé Maupeu, 2003. "Analysing low intensity conflict in Africa using press reports," Working Papers DT/2003/15, DIAL (Développement, Institutions et Mondialisation).
  • Handle: RePEc:dia:wpaper:dt200315

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