Monitoring subnational violence in Asia

While hundreds of millions have seen their incomes and opportunities expand rapidly in Asia over the last two decades — far outpacing any other region — accelerated growth has been accompanied by continuing subnational violence in many countries. However, linkages between violence, conflict, and development remain poorly understood. This makes it difficult to understand why some countries experience ethnic riots and others do not, or why many stable, middle-income countries, especially in Asia, have protracted subnational conflicts. Previous research supported by The Asia Foundation has highlighted that more and better data, produced at a subnational level, is necessary both to understand these linkages and to ensure that data is comparable across different methods of data collection.

Southeast Asia has pioneered locally owned and operated subnational violence monitoring systems (VMS) that track and code individual violent incidents. These systems are highly innovative, adaptable to varying political contexts, and scalable to entire countries or specific conflict-affected areas. The data has strengthened local government and civil society efforts to prevent local violence earlier and in a more inclusive manner. Results from this research highlight the strengths and weaknesses of various data collection methods and data analysis and the role of local stakeholders in effectively using the data produced.

Building on these findings, this project will develop new systems in Nepal and Myanmar, in partnership with local organizations, and explore the feasibility for such systems in Thailand, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and India. It will promote the use of data on violence in Asia through networking and capacity-building activities and it will also explore ways to incorporate innovative approaches to gendered violence and the influence of social and economic factors. This will be achieved through the production of a cross-country protocol for subnational violence monitoring systems and the inclusion of new research focused on domestic and gender-based violence, and the relationship between inequality and violence.

Project ID


Project status



24 months

IDRC Officer

Florencio Ceballos

Total funding

CA$ 848,100


Far East Asia


Governance and Justice

Project Leader

Adrian Morel


The Asia Foundation

Institution Country

United States

Institution Website