What the Fighters Say

A Survey of Ex-Combatants in Sierra Leone

June-August 2003


Macartan Humphreys (Columbia University) and Jeremy Weinstein (Stanford University)

Download the July 2004 Interim Report

Download the Survey Instrument

Download the Location and Group Codebook

Download Background and Behavior Data

Download Background and Reintegration Data


Recognizing a window of opportunity between the ending of Sierra Leone’s war and the beginning of trials by the International Special Court for Sierra Leone, Columbia University’s Earth Institute provided expedited support for a data-gathering project to better understand the causes and consequences of Sierra Leone’s civil war, the internal dynamics of the fighting groups, and the best strategies available to the international community to respond to the security concerns raised by civil conflicts.


In partnership with a Freetown-based NGO, the Post-conflict Reintegration Initiative for Development and Empowerment (PRIDE), we conducted a large-scale survey of ex-combatants during the summer of 2003, collecting information on all stages of the Sierra Leone conflict.  Four months of intensive data collection on the ground yielded surveys of 200 non-combatants and over 1,000 ex-combatants from all factions and regions of Sierra Leone.


The data offers a systematic assessment of the dynamics of the conflict and the post-conflict period.  It provides a key source of information that can help contribute to a more complete history of the conflict, evaluate the prospects for continued peace, and influence appropriate policies for intervention and post-conflict reconstruction in Sierra Leone and other regions of civil conflict. 


This interim report provides a first-cut at the evidence on how the factions were organized, how combatants experienced the demobilization process, and trends in post-conflict reintegration. Because interest within Sierra Leone is presently focused on peacebuilding and the reintegration process, this interim report focuses especially on parts of the survey related to demobilization and reintegration.