Building Climate and Conflict Resilient Communities (BCCRC)

Benin

Summary

Building Climate and Conflict Resilient Communities develops community-based systems to bring herders, farmers, women, youth, and government and security actors together to anticipate climate-related conflict drivers and proactively prevent farmer-herder conflict. It is a collaboration of Karuna Center, l’Association Coexister (in Benin), and Neem Foundation (based in Nigeria). 

About the Program

Building Climate and Conflict Resilient Communities (BCCRC) is a new initiative that addresses the significant impact that climate change is having on people in the Sahel region of Africa—focusing on the seasonal routes where nomadic Fulani cattle herders cross from Niger into Benin.

Launched in October 2023, this initiative builds on the work of Karuna Center and Neem Foundation in Nigeria, with the addition of a third key partner, the Benin-based organization Association Coexister. Drawing on the lessons learned from the Protecting Our Communities Initiative, BCCRC will facilitate community resilience in addressing violence by improving trust and collaboration between farmers, herders, security forces, and government. The project pays special attention to developing understanding with and lifting the voices of Fulani communities who are often marginalized from governance and security processes.

 

Community dialogue facilitators and members of the project team (first photo) after completing an April 23-26, 2024 workshop; EWER Committee members (second photo) after completing training April 29-May 1.

BCCRC trains and mentors a diverse cohort of community dialogue facilitators (first photo, above) who work in teams to build trust and address conflicts, across ethnic and religious divides, in four core communities in northern Benin near the Niger border. At the same time, the project engages community leaders in early warning-early response (EWER) committees (second photo, above) that identify the first signs of potential conflict, and coordinate with local leaders and security forces to develop ongoing effective responses to de-escalate tensions. The project held a 4-day workshop for new community dialogue facilitators and a 3-day workshop for EWER committee members in April 2024 to launch these components, and the team will be mentoring and coaching them in their roles throughout the project. Later, the project will host a regional forum to bring stakeholders together to plan for collaboration beyond the project’s end.

A key focus on the project is on providing opportunities to rebuild and strengthen trust—which has deteriorated between communities as well as between communities and security forces. This weakened the rule of law, created openings for violent extremist groups to expand their influence, and contributed to growing communal tensions. Furthermore, a lack of inclusive, effective structures to address conflicts and grievances means that the critical role of herders, women, and youth in addressing the crisis is often overlooked. BCCRC’s community-based dialogue and EWER systems will address these gaps and breakdowns in relationships by bringing herders, farmers, women, youth, and government and security actors together to anticipate climate-related conflict drivers and proactively prevent farmer-herder conflict. This serves the long-term goal of reducing the risk of farmer-herder conflict amid rapidly changing climate impacts in the region.

The project aims to build this trust and social cohesion both horizontally and vertically—elevating the voices and concerns of marginalized groups within community dialogues, early warning-response (EWER) committees, and radio programming, and holding meetings and forums that build connections with high-level stakeholders. The project’s innovative, replicable model builds on the Protecting Our Communities Initiative, a collaboration led by Karuna Center and Neem Foundation in Nigeria, and strongly emphasizes strengthening local capacity.

This project is funded by an 18-month grant from US Department of State Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations.

 

Program stories

PREPARING A FARMER-HERDER PEACEBUILDING INITIATIVE IN BENIN

In January 2024, we checked in with Karuna program manager Troy Caruana for a glimpse into the preparation needed to begin a dialogue-based project.

Read more