How communities in Nigeria are building peace

This International Day of Peace, we are spotlighting community-based peacebuilding in rural Nigeria! Through the Protecting Our Communities Initiative, we see how local communities are developing creative, practical approaches to global problems that affect us all. 

The communities participating in this initiative are in the middle of complex conflicts and security crises—exactly the kind of situations where externally-driven military operations fail. Addressing these conflicts requires listening to those who are most impacted, and supporting peace leadership from the ground up. 

The Protecting Our Communities Initiative is led jointly by Karuna and the Nigeria-based Neem Foundation. It supports 18 communities affected by cycles of farmer-herder violence and bandit attacks. We collaborate to develop skills for preventing violence and transforming conflict, and we amplify community-based solutions.

We pulled together some examples of ways communities are building peace:

Spotlighting Ways Communities are Building Peace in Nigeria

1. Using Dialogue to resolve conflicts

“We reached an amicable resolution between the farmers and herders: that the farmers will cultivate from a particular place to another, while the herders were told where not to go with their animals. This is one of hundreds of achievements that we have had involving resolution of conflict in the community.”

– Yusuf Rilwan, a youth leader in Kajuru, Nigeria

2. Supporting children’s needs

“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. It is a necessity.”

– Victor Ogom, child consultant, Kaduna, as interviewed on a Protecting Our Communities Initiative call-in radio program

3. Respecting different faiths

“The hallmark of every religion is peace, so where we see a deviation from the preaching of the peace, we must correct it.”

– Barr. Joseph Gbagyo, as interviewed on a Protecting Our Communities Initiative call-in radio program

4. Forming Early Warning-Early Response Committees

“Violence anywhere becomes violence everywhere. Therefore peace must be made a priority.”

– Early Warning-Early Response Committee meeting (Gwer West Local Government Area)

5. Reaching out to security forces

“We believe that peace is directly linked to synergy at all levels and unity purpose, this is why we paid an advocacy visit to the Nigeria Police Force Maru Divisional Headquarters on 26th August, 2021. As part of Protecting our Community Initiative project in Zamfara State.”

– Early Warning-Early Response Committee, Rowan Doruwa community

6. Engaging women’s leadership

“To improve women’s participation in policy and peacebuilding, their rights must be recognized and protected… We cannot build peace that involves women without the participation of women in the building process, it just does not work!”

– Abigail Shakwoduza, youth activist, Kaduna

7. Call-in radio programs

“We call during the POCI radio show to listen attentively and participate deeply. So I encourage listeners to focus on this radio show. When you listen and benefit from peace initiatives of the project, you convey the message to those who didn’t listen and it will continue to go on like that and the whole community will be impacted.”

– Nasiru Hussaini Maigwanjo, a frequent caller to the radio program

8. Engaging youth in peacebuilding

“Youth must know their value in society. This will motivate them to have courage when it comes to peacebuilding. Youth are the leaders of tomorrow, so we must protect the future by shunning violence.”

– Abubakar Haidara, youth representative

✨ Video: Early Warning-Early Response in Sabon Tasha

In the past 6 months alone, Early Warning-Early Response Committees in 18 communities have resolved more than 50 local disputes through the Protecting Our Communities Initiative.

In this video, a local Committee member in the community of Sabon Tasha explains how they kept the peace at a local protest—and why this prevented broader conflict:

✨ Video highlight: The Impact of Dialogue in Ruwan Doruwa

The practice of dialogue, no matter the topic, improves our ability to work across differences and face new challenges together. This hopeful video is about two soccer coaches in Zamfara state who resolved their conflict through dialogue:

  Through local dialogues, communities have also facilitated mutual agreements between farmers and herders this summer, to prevent conflict related to land use during the fall rainy season. These dialogues, in turn, prompted large associations of cattle herders and crop farmers to work together at the state level.

These collaborations and agreements are critical, as global climate change pushes herders to change their grazing routes. Community-based solutions reduce the risk that violent clashes will occur—and create mutual understanding, across the farmers’ and herders’ different ethnic and religious identities.

The impacts of locally-rooted peacebuilding reverberate far beyond each individual community. We hope the actions of these peace leaders bring you a sense of practical hope today on Peace Day, and every day!

You can visit the Protecting Our Communities Initiative Facebook page to learn more, engage with the project’s content, and help expand the reach of local peacebuilding in Nigeria.

 

Invest in sustainable peace

You can support these initiatives to develop peace in communities impacted by conflict, with a gift to Karuna Center today. Thank you!

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