By Ifeanyi Nwoko
A non-governmental organization (NGO), Mercy Corps said it had completed its peacebuilding and enlightenment program, targeting victims of the insurgency in the northeast.
The Nigerian News Agency (NAN) reports that the initiative aimed to improve security, reduce support for violence and strengthen citizens’ ability to hold government to account in communities hard hit by the insurgency. in Borno.
The program also helped target communities become more peaceful and resilient to drivers of conflict and violence, including recruitment into the insurgency.
The program has been implemented in 21 communities in the northeast, with more than 1,000 people receiving different categories of training and empowerment, said Ndubuisi Anyanwu, country director of the Corps.
Speaking at a ceremony marking the official completion of the initiative, Anyanwu said the program titled “Northeast Conflict Management and Stabilization (NE-CMS) also targets traditional and religious leaders.
Anyanwu said the initiative sought solutions to several complex issues that fueled the protracted crisis in the region, unsatisfactory relations between citizens and government as well as traditional systems of exclusion.
“Our pre-implementation assessment observed deep tensions resulting from social and political conflicts within local communities, including inter-ethnic, intergenerational and IDP host communities resulting in economic exclusion.
“In order to ensure a lasting peace, we have worked closely with the main stakeholders to strengthen and establish several channels of dialogue between the government, the army, community leaders and the population with a view to improving the security situation. and the protection of the people of Borno State, ”he said. mentionned.
He pointed out that the NGO based the initiative on certain building blocks, including: an equitable power structure, conflict resolution mechanisms by supporting social inclusion through dialogue and effective institutions by working with civilian governments.
He said the program was also based on a favorable regional environment as well as inclusive economic development by leveraging synergies with other programs led by the Mercy Corps.
“Community structures have been established in 21 communities, including the good governance committee, the conflict management committee, youth support networks, women’s councils, psychosocial support groups and the protection committee.
“We are really proud of the achievement of the NE-CMS program, citizens are now more civically engaged, security forces now have improved capabilities to protect civilians, while communities are also showing increased confidence.
“We engaged over 500 traditional and religious leaders in capacity building sessions on using alternative narratives as a framework for dialogue, confidence building and reconciliation.
“We were also able to train 1,200 young people and women on topics related to leadership,” he said.
He stressed that the feat could not have been possible without the help of other partners, including Center for Civilians in Conflict, Okapi Consulting, Center for Humanitarian Development, among others.
Giving an overview of the initiative, Paul Enude, Deputy Program Director of the NE-CMS Program, said the program has been designed and implemented in such a way as to ensure its sustainability.
“We have developed a solid sustainability plan, it started from the beginning with the design of the program until the closing phase.
“Mercy Corps trained a community participant in the required dialogue skills. Right now, they are self-engaging in the community and also run dialogue sessions without the presence of Mercy Corps.
“We were able to go the extra mile to train them on how to engage the government with the required advocacy skills,” he said.
He said the skills may have helped them demand service delivery, noting that beneficiary communities were able to get some basic amenities from the government using these skills.
Enude added that other communities, which were not direct beneficiaries, were now replicating the structures that had been put in place in the target communities.
He added that Mercy Corps had generated significant support from representatives of the House of Assembly, the Department of Local Affairs and Chiefdom, and planning directors.
Also speaking, Abba Monguno, chairman of the Conflict Management Committee, one of the committees established by Mercy Corps, praised the corps for the efforts in the northeast.
He said Mercy Corps was the first to reach out to communities after the insurgency, adding that the training they received has positioned them to better engage in peacebuilding dialogue.
Monguno, who works in the Borno State House of Assembly, also stressed that the training of representatives and established liaison with the population will also ensure the enactment of better laws. (NAA)