Senegal

Since 2003, we have built peace leadership toward resolving the Casamance conflict, Africa’s oldest ongoing war. We have led numerous initiatives among civil society, government, rebel combatants, and local villages. Our approach honors the role of local cultural traditions in promoting peace.

Engaging traditional priestesses to end the war (2014-2016)

In 2014, we reconvened a civil society network from our earlier work in the Casamance with the skilled facilitation of our Senegalese Peacebuilding Associate, Joachim Diene. We held community meetings that included a total of 407 people from 46 villages in the region of Oussouye. They also took three excursions to meet with rebel encampments in the surrounding forests. During these meetings, community members in the region made clear recommendations for the peace negotiations, based in the recognition of their economic, political, and cultural rights as well as the need to successfully reintegrate combatants. These community members told us they are willing to do everything in their power to support the peace process, and have decided to call their combatants home.

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Peace in the Casamance (2010-2011)

From 2010-2011 Karuna Center provided peacebuilding training and technical support to a USAID-funded program implemented by World Education that developed local Peace Committees that now work cooperatively to manage local conflicts and advocate for peace. Journalists from local community radio stations were trained to work in consort with the committees, publicizing their grassroots efforts to mitigate conflict, rebuild trust, and enhance security.

Support to the Casamance Peace Process Program (2006-2009)

From 2006-09 we worked intensively with AECOM International Development on this USAID-funded peacebuilding program, designing and delivering trainings for Senegalese government officials, civil society groups, and the political arm of the MFDC separatist movement in an effort to build momentum for a negotiated settlement to the 30-year old conflict. 

Conflict Assessment (2009)

In 2009 Executive Director Olivia Dreier authored a conflict assessment for USAID on Senegal and the sub-region, which includes a section on the conflict dynamics in the Casamance. The assessment is still being used as a resource by the USAID mission. 

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Peacebuilding and Conflict Resolution with Key Constituencies in the Casamance (2004-2005)

From 2004-05 Karuna Center designed and implemented all the trainings for this USAID-funded project, implemented by PADCO that included Senegalese government officials in Dakar and the Casamance, civil society leaders, and the MFDC political wing. These trainings established trusting relationships and built skill sets that were further developed in the Support to the Casamance Peace Process Program described above. Recognizing that a successful peace process must reach communities at the village level, we worked with community-based organizations to collaborate on pilot projects that supported the return of refugees, the settlement of land disputes, and cultural festivals that brought disparate groups together to reinvigorate local traditions eroded by years of war.

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