PROTECTING OUR COMMUNITIES (2019-present)

Nigeria

Summary

The Protecting Our Communities initiative supports rural Nigerian communities at the center of complex land use conflicts and rising insecurity. The project is currently being implemented across six (6) Local Government Areas (LGAs) in Kaduna, Zamfara and Benue states.

We co-lead this initiative with the Nigeria-based Neem Foundation and three community-based organizations: Elohim Development Foundation, Hope for the Village Child, and Voluntary Aid Initiative.

About the Protecting Our Communities Initiative

The project works within 18 core communities to establish locally-rooted peacebuilding systems. The goal is to support communities’ capacity to prevent violence and address the root causes of conflict, now and in the future. A key focus of the project is on strengthening relationships between farmer and herder communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis. These are the project’s key components:

Acting Fast to Prevent Violent Conflict:

Early Warning-Early Response (EWER) committees identify, track, and resolve local incidents that could spark broader conflict. To tackle problems like bandit attacks, they also build relationships with local security forces. The EWER committees have resolved over 425 incidents to date across all 18 project communities.

Strengthening Communities:

Dialogue facilitators within each community are building relationships of trust across ethnic and religious divides—and collaborating with EWER committees to resolve disputes. Community dialogue facilitators have held more than 220 dialogues over the past year, on topics such as farmer-herder relations, land disputes, drug use, inter-religious conflict, and managing harmful rumors

Peace Education:

The project holds regular call-in radio shows and shares success stories over social media—allowing a much broader community to learn about and discuss themes related to building peace. Community drama performances further educate and engage community members about the project’s peacebuilding systems.

Uplifting Community Leadership:

Community-based peacebuilders are uniquely positioned to understand and navigate complex regional conflicts. To build local peacebuilders’ connections and leadership, the project held an inter-state dialogue forum and co-hosted a National Conference on the Management of Farmer-Herder Relations in summer 2022 (photo above).

Building Resilience:

Psychological trauma can be widespread in communities impacted by violent conflict and insecurity. The Protecting Our Communities Initiative has provided counseling to more than 700 people impacted by trauma, and trained 156 peer counselors so far. Photo above: participants practice mindfulness through weaving.

“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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