A new introductory guide on how to design community peacebuilding projects was released today by Islamic Relief.
The ‘Introduction to Peacebuilding: An Islamic Relief Practitioners’ Guide’ was developed by Laura Payne from Coventry University’s Centre for Trust, Peace and Social Relations and Islamic Relief’s conflict prevention and peacebuilding programme, funded by Sida.
The guide introduces basic concepts, such as what peacebuilding means, while condensing extensive scholarly debate on topics such as how peace is understood in Islam and how Muslim societies have historically practiced conflict prevention and peacebuilding. It also positions Islamic Relief’s approach to peacebuilding within the current Triple Nexus discourse in the sector, shedding light on Islamic Relief’s holistic approach to sustainable, inclusive community peacebuilding.
“Islamic Relief’s community-based peacebuilding projects seek to address the key drivers of conflict. This means that when the key drivers of conflict relate to poverty and under-development, our peacebuilding and development work may align. At times our peacebuilding work may also align with our humanitarian priorities” says Dr. Sylvia Brown, Conflict Advisor for Islamic Relief.
The guide offers many practical examples from Islamic Relief’s own projects around the world.
The guide emphasises the importance of an inclusive approach to peacebuilding which leaves no one behind:“Different groups of people are affected differently by conflict and social unrest. To build sustainable peace and social cohesion it is imperative that a variety of perspectives is included in peacebuilding initiatives. Be sure to create spaces for meaningful inclusion of people who are normally marginalised from peacebuilding”, the guidance states.
The guidance also emphasises that Islamic Relief’s peacebuilding work should be based on a sound analysis of the context. Each project must be a bespoke design for each context, there is no ‘off the shelf’ solution.
“A peacebuilding project must be based on context analysis and comprehensive and inclusive consultation with local communities. Often, what we see on the surface are symptoms of conflict, such as displaced people, armed groups and damaged infrastructure. To really tackle conflict, it is important to identify what causes it and work to address the cause”, explains the guide.
It directs the reader to external blogs, video clips and many other excellent resources for peacebuilding practitioners which complement Islamic Relief’s community-based approach. It also offers many practical examples from Islamic Relief’s own projects around the world.
Islamic Relief’s peacebuilding in action: Kenya
“We the youth of Mandera County have numerous challenges. Many in our community die in conflict but with time, we hope things will change. Youth form the largest group in our society and the majority of the youth are unemployed. People take advantage of the vulnerability of our youngsters. Despite many among us getting capacity building in conflict management, a majority still lack this opportunity”, says 30-year-old Abdi.
“The Islamic Relief peace project in Mandera has provided us with useful training, has helped mentor our youth. Now we are playing a significant role in helping to maintain peace in the area, as well as in other community social support activities.
“We thought peace work was the elders’ task, [but] nowadays things are gradually changing and peace work is the responsibility of elders, faith leaders, youth, and women.
“Through the training which the project provided, we have addressed several intra- and inter-clan conflicts affecting our community. On a daily basis, young people are able to address the issues they have in the community and will continue doing so”, he says.
The work of Mandera’s youth peace councils has led to a sharp reduction in inter-clan conflict in Banisa and Malkamari, which were previously conflict hotspots.
This free to access guide is a simple, practical resource which will be especially useful to non-traditional peacebuilding actors and non-governmental organisation field staff.
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