PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITIES (2019-present)

Nigeria

Powerful reflections from a local peacebuilder, interviewed by the Protecting Our Communities project team! For more interviews and updates, follow the Protecting Our Communities Initiative on Facebook!

Summary

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

Spring 2021 Updates:

Community Dialogues: Community dialogue facilitators are now leading structured dialogues, with ongoing coaching from the team. 263 community members have participated in 2-day dialogue events within identity groups across the 18 project sites—gaining practice engaging in dialogues. Next, facilitators will lead dialogues between farmers and herders, from different ethno-religious groups.

Early Warning-Early Response (EWER): Teams of EWER leaders in each community have gained skills in using Neem Foundation’s reporting platform to identify and track incidents. Often, EWER teams can collaborate within communities to successfully manage conflict themselves. The project is also working to build a collaborative relationship with police/security forces that centers community needs.

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 further engages participants in constructive advocacy efforts by working with traditional and religious leaders to elevate community voices and facilitate two-way communication with policymakers, and brings 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 project (Fall 2019-Summer 2022) is funded by a grant from the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Democracy, Rights, and Labor.

Program Stories

“In fact, the intervention of this project has greatly helped us to achieve social justice, especially in the face of adversity. It brings us out of the darkness.”

– Abdulaziz Yakubu
EWER Committee Member, Ruwan Doruwa 
Photo and interview credit: Neem Foundation

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