Introduction to Conflict Sensitivity

Welcome to our Introduction to Conflict Sensitivity course!

This course is designed to help aid workers in Sudan to better understand the theory and basic concepts of conflict sensitivity.

  • Conflict sensitivity
  • 10 Lectures
  • 10 Videos
Material Supply
  • Video lectures
  • Textbooks
  • Quizzes
  • Transcript of video
  • Online


Dorette Besser

Dorette provides strategic leadership for and manage the operations of the Facility. Working in the Sudans since 2007, but also spending time in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines and the Caribbean she has worked towards building conflict sensitivity within aid programs through advocacy and advisory work to UN agencies and the wider donor community.

Who is this course for?

People who have no experience with the concept, and want to get the basics down.
People who have a working understanding of what is meant by conflict sensitivity, but want to better understand the theory and how it looks in practical terms.

What will you learn and how does this course work?

You will learn why conflict sensitivity is important when designing or implementing aid programmes.

  • How basic concepts like ‘conflict’, ‘violence’, and ‘peace’ interact with aid programming – especially when working in conflict areas.
  • A theoretical and working definition of ‘conflict sensitivity’.
  • How conflict sensitivity interacts with other concepts such as social cohesion and gender sensitivity.
  • Types of conflict and contextual analysis that help us be conflict sensitive.
  • The role of adaptation in conflict sensitivity.
  • The role of conflict sensitivity in navigating dilemmas.

The course will take approximately one hour. It consists of 3 sections, each with several lectures.  Each section concludes with a short quiz that you must pass before beginning the next section.  We’ll be using video and audio in this course, but all of the content will also be provided in text lectures as well, so that if you don’t have very good internet, you can still access the content without watching the videos by clicking on the transcript button to download the text.

You are welcome to take the full course in one sitting if you’d like, but you can also close it down and return later to the same place by logging in with your username and password.

Course Outline

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Thanks for sharing the journey towards conflict sensitive aid in Sudan


Lecture 1
Welcome and background to Conflict Sensitivity
  • Conflict sensitivity is applicable everywhere that aid is delivered, but it is especially important in  areas affected by violent conflict, like Sudan.
  • Aid is never totally conflict neutral.  Humanitarian principles encourage us to be impartial, neutral and independent, but in many contexts – especially those where there is active or simmering conflict – this is actually impossible or desirable.
  • However, aid can save lives and contribute to sustainable development and peace.
  • Being conflict sensitive means that we recognize these dynamics happening around us.
Introductory Test
Please take this test in order to complete the first section of this course and move onto the subsequent material. You will need to be successful to access the rest of the course.


Lecture 1
  • The word ‘conflict’ is one of those words that everyone knows, and uses all the time, but that can mean something a bit different for everyone.
  • The first step in this course is to both recognise that fact, as well as establish the working definition that we will use for the remainder of this course.
Lecture 2
  • What’s the first word or image that comes to mind when you hear the term? How does it differ or align with the term ‘conflict?.
  • Violence is one response to conflict, but far from the only one. Yet often we conflate the two, which obscures the ways conflicts are most often managed i.e. without violence.
  • Unlike conflict, which is not necessarily harmful, violence refers to: “Actions, words, attitudes, structures or systems that cause physical, psychological, social or environmental damage, and/or prevent people from reaching their human potential”.
Lecture 3
  • Peace has the capacity to transform conflicts with empathy, without violence, and creatively; a never-ending process.
  • Peace, is a ‘capacity’ or an ability, something you can do. It’s a way of managing conflict – one that relies on creativity and empathy, and a willingness to collaborate for solutions to conflict.
  • Peace is a “never ending process”.  No society is ever totally at peace. An impossible but integral ideal that will always require work.
Section 2 Test on Basic Concepts
Please take this test in order to complete the second section of this course.


Lecture 1
Explanation of Conflict Sensitivity: What does it mean?

Conflict Sensitivity means:

    • Understanding the context
    • Understanding how our work interacts with conflict dynamics
    • Minimising negative impacts of interventions and maximising positive impacts on conflict dynamics

It’s a way of designing and delivering aid that is smart, principled, and context-driven, underpinned by ongoing observation, analysis, learning and adaptation.

Lecture 2
Gender and Conflict Sensitivity
  • In Sudan, like most places, gender and conflicts interact in countless ways, many of which will have implications for the conflict sensitivity of aid programs.
  • Since conflict has a gender dimension, any approach to conflict sensitivity worth its salt will also aim to be gender sensitive.
  • This means that conflict sensitivity involves:
    • Understanding the context (including gender roles and conflict)
    • Understanding how our work interacts with conflict dynamics in the context (including gender roles and interactions)
    • Minimising negative impacts of interventions and maximising positive impacts on conflict dynamics; (including for men, women, boys and girls)
Lecture 3
Aid and Social Cohesion
  •  Social cohesion is a vital humanitarian resource and one we should nurture. This is because in contexts characterised by social tensions rather than cohesion, violence and the humanitarian needs they fuel are FAR more likely to emerge and increase. At the same time social tensions make it far more difficult for such societies and the aid actors working among them to address those needs.
  •  By developing social cohesion in the way that we provide aid and development assistance, we can ensure communities are well equipped to deal with hard times, well positioned to receive and distribute aid and reduce the chances that marginalisation of violence with result.
Section 3: Test on Conflict Sensitivity Theory
Please take this test in order to complete the third section of this course.


Lecture 1
Conflict Sensitivity in Practice: Analysis
  • What does conflict analysis look like in practice?
  • From using third party experts and robust data collection to using participatory processes like institutional analysis and informal & unstructured analysis we look at the characteristics and advantages of using all these analysis tools
Lecture 2
Adaptation and Action
  • Much of our conflict sensitivity impact hinges on the unintended consequences of the way we operate.
  • A lack of flexibility in our operational approaches may push us to do things that are not responsive to contextual dynamics.
Lecture 3
Dilemmas: How does conflict sensitivity help us navigate them?
  • When we’re aware of the context and gather regular information across various channels and with different approaches, we are in a better place to know the options, and their consequences.
  • Good analysis will help us navigate these dilemmas. The point of conflict sensitivity is not to prevent necessary action, but to take all available measures and analysis into consideration to minimize harm.
Section 4 test
Please answer one question in order to complete the fourth section of this course. After successful completion, you will be asked for some short feedback on the course before being directed to your Results Page.
Final Test
Final Test


Senior Advisor

Audrey Bottjen

Audrey Bottjen has worked in the Sudans since 2010, including as the Director of the Conflict Sensitivity Resource Facility (CSRF) in South Sudan, and the Chief of Party of the USAID-funded conflict mitigation program in South Sudan. She currently supports the CSF part-time whilst also exploring regenerative farming and conservation with her husband from their farm in Western North Carolina.

Dorette Besser

Dorette provides strategic leadership for and manage the operations of the Facility. Working in the Sudans since 2007, but also spending time in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Philippines and the Caribbean she has worked towards building conflict sensitivity within aid programs through advocacy and advisory work to UN agencies and the wider donor community.
Charge d'Affaires at FCDO Khartoum

Louise Walker

Louise is a diplomat and international development adviser specialising in economy, investment, banking and digital in developing and fragile states.
Technical Consultant

Basil Daffalla

Basil started his aid career in Sudan in 2013. Since then, he also spent time in Iraq, Libya and Tunisia focusing mainly on protection, mixed migration and analysis. He supports the CSF with engaging with the aid community in Sudan, technical support and analysis.
Analysis and outreach advisor

Sarra Majdoub

Sarra's career trajectory to date has been built around an appreciation of the multi-faceted nature of conflicts, transition and displacement. Throughout her work the common thread has been an adaptability to work in a multi-faceted way to deliver high quality projects across a broad spectrum of different contexts; ranging from authoritarian spaces to post-conflict states. Most recently this has been epitomised by delivering research for different INGOs across the complex landscape within Sudan which has allowed her to build an ability to adapt quickly and apply an interdisciplinary lens to tackle the most pertinent and pressing issues in Sudan.
Access Advisor - UNOCHA

Mark Stevens

Mark has been working on Sudan for the past decade and now serves as an access advisor for OCHA focusing on the Two Areas of South Kordofan and Blue Nile. He supports inter-agency, multi-sector response in conflict and post-conflict settings in a way that enhances resiliency and localisation

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