The Protecting Our Communities initiative supports rural Nigerian communities at the center of violent clashes between crop farmers and nomadic cattle herders. In partnership with the Nigeria-based Neem Foundation, we are collaborating to share peacebuilding tools that can help stop the cycle of violence. The project is based in 18 communities throughout Benue, Kaduna, and Zamfara states that include a balance of “hot spots,” peaceful communities, and communities transitioning to peace. Our approach is to address a critical gap in peacebuilding efforts by focusing on the contributions of women and youth, who are often the first to notice a problem but are rarely included in formal channels. We also engage religious and traditional leaders and local government officials, who are able to collaborate with and amplify community efforts.
About the Program
This project builds the capacity of communities to reduce violence by training and mentoring local facilitators to lead problem-solving dialogues among cattle and crop farmer association members, women, and youth; training a broad cross-section of community members to collaborate in a proven model for community-based early warning/early response to identify and address potential triggers or escalations of violent conflict; and equipping communities to respond effectively to the spread of hateful rumors and stereotypes over social media.
Because community members do not themselves have the reach and ability to address all the drivers of conflict, this project will further engage participants in constructive advocacy efforts by working with traditional and religious leaders to elevate community voices and facilitate two-way communication with policymakers, and will also bring community insights to a mass audience through monthly call-in radio shows in three states.
Karuna Center is working in close partnership with Neem Foundation in Abuja, Nigeria as well as associations of farmers, associations of herders, and regional community-based organizations.
The process of developing this program was funded by our community of individual donors. The implementation of this 24-month project (Fall 2019-2021) is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Rights, and Labor.