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Assessment – Social media analysis of the debate on Tigray conflict since November 2020 (service contract)

The European Institute of Peace is looking for exceptional individuals and companies who share our vision for a world where people live in safety and peace because conflicts and grievances are resolved through inclusive dialogue and lasting political agreements.

We provide practical experience, technical expertise, and policy advice on conflict resolution. We use a variety of tools to help us do this, including analysis, mapping and design of peace processes and agreements, facilitating policy discussions, and proposing practical engagement, for example through inclusive dialogue and mediation support.

Based in Brussels and active in over a dozen countries, the European Institute of Peace is an independent organisation working collaboratively with European decision-makers, the parties to the conflict, and those who represent people suffering from insecurity or at risk of violence, as well as the conflict prevention, resolution and mediation community.

Our innovative approach to peace enables us to be agile, creative, and effective in everything we do, and these are key qualities we look for in our team members. See www.eip.org for more information.

We are looking for an Assessment – Social media analysis of the debate on Tigray conflict since November 2020 to support the Peace Process and Innovation unit (PPI). He/she will be reporting to the Responding to Violent Extremism Program Manager.


1. Background

The ongoing violence between the federal government in Ethiopia and the Tigray Peoples’ Liberation Front (TPLF), which began in 2020, has Ethiopia at a crossroads. Nearly nine months have passed since the conflict started: a catastrophic humanitarian crisis has ensued. Amid the ongoing conflict, the United Nations have reported grave food shortages and famine, many internally displaced people, sexual violence against women, and famine.

The conflict over Tigray has seen information warfare too. Given a communications blackout in much of the region, parsing what is happening in Tigray’s conflict is a difficult task. On social media, pro-government voices compete eagerly with pro-Tigrayan accounts for control of the conflict narrative.

Both sides are quick to accuse the other of intentionally spreading false information. Evidence of heavy fighting and atrocities are spun to fit each side’s narrative, and occasionally, the material is purposely distorted or displayed without crucial context. In addition to Ethiopians, diaspora groups and international actors have gotten involved on one side or the other. 

This assessment is intended to provide a social media analysis of the debate on the Tigray conflict, identify networks and trends, and provide lessons and recommendations.

2. Relevance to the Institute

The European Institute of Peace is currently implementing an EU-funded program focused on reducing Ethiopia’s internal and external extremism drivers (August 2019 – December 2021). The project intends to strengthen Ethiopia’s approaches and capacity to address internal and external threats of extremism and political violence. One of the outputs is to develop meaningful dialogue initiatives in Ethiopia that have an impact on extremism. The requested assessment would contribute to a better understanding of the role of social media as a tool of information warfare in an Ethiopian context and provide recommendations and analysis for policymakers to refine Ethiopia’s tools to address disinformation and fake news.

3. Main objective

The research shall conduct a thorough social media analysis of the debate on the Tigray conflict since November 2020 to understand the kinds of information circulated and the effects of different messaging campaigns.

The service provider will provide an assessment on social media debate on Tigray conflict, including but not limited to:

  • Conduct a thorough social media analysis of the debate on the Tigray conflict since November 2020.
  • Provide an evaluation of networks and nodes within social media networks, highlighting their interconnectedness.
  • Tracks stories and narratives: account origins, hashtags and phrased used, and how these have evolved throughout different phases of the conflict.
  • Evaluate the importance of diaspora media and international actors in influencing narratives, and both providing Ethiopians with accurate information and as a source of unaccountable mis/disinformation.
  • Analyse how the internet and communications shutdowns and mass media closures affect information access to varied effects.
  • Analyse the role of social media narratives in vilifying human rights reporting and documentation of potential war crimes.

4. Timeline

Deadline for submitting tenders: 19 September 2021, 23.59 CET

Start date: ASAP

First draft: 29 November 2021 (indicative)

Final draft: December 2021

5. Target audience

Ethiopian and international policymakers. The study will be publicly available on the Institute’s website.

6. Budget

The European Institute of Peace estimates 60 working days for an international expert, supported by two full-time the Institute’s consultants based in Ethiopia if necessary.

7. Monitoring and comments

The Institute’s Programme team, consisting of the Programme Manager, Programme Officer, and Senior Advisor, will monitor the delivery of the research as set out according to the above deliverables and timelines.

Upon submission of the draft report, the Institute will provide the contractor with feedback, after which the contractor will submit a final draft.

8. Language

The language of the final research product and all intermediate notes is to be English.

9. Presentation and copyright

The final report will be formatted according to the standard layout of the European Institute of Peace. The contractor’s name, organisation, and logo can be displayed on the report alongside the Institute’s logo. The Institute will retain all copyright rights of usage to the report.

10. Qualifications and requirements

The following expertise is required:

  • An excellent understanding of Ethiopian politics;
  • An excellent knowledge (conceptual and practical) of social media, propaganda, disinformation, and related concepts;
  • Expertise in process design; and
  • Fluency in English, with any of the languages spoken in Ethiopia a significant benefit.

11. Submission of proposals and criteria for evaluation

The European Institute of Peace invites interested parties to submit a research proposal, including a technical proposal, a budget setting out all fees for the research, and CVs for all consultants involved in project implementation.

Submit to: recruitment@eip.org

The European Institute of Peace will evaluate the provider based on:

  • The quality of the proposal (80% weight)
  • The cost of the bid (20% weight)

The European Institute of Peace is under no obligation to award the current contract for which proposals are requested. In this case, applicants will be informed of the Institute’s decision not to award the contract.

The deadline is 19 September 2021 23:59 CET. The successful candidate will be selected based on the most competitive offer, including technical and financial proposal.

Deadline for application: 19 September 2021