For decades the border regions of the Mano River region countries – Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone – have been prone to instability and insecurity. Conciliation Resources and our national NGO partners have been working for the past eight years to help alleviate these tensions at a local level. We’re supporting a network of 18 community-based peacebuilding platforms, called District Platforms for Dialogue (DPDs). These are comprised of trusted community members who are trained to identify areas of conflict and encourage discussion.
Our latest publication reflects on some of the lessons learnt from this work. Here are the top 8 lessons for improving the effectiveness of community platforms:
1. Community trust and confidence is key
At the heart of the success of our model is that it is owned by and representative of the communities that it serves, enabling timely well-targeted and relevant interventions.
2. Widening the reach
Decentralising the structure of community platforms enables them to reach more remote communities, furthers local ownership and enables quicker responses to conflict. .
3. Recognise and collaborate with other actors
Community-based peacebuilding initiatives need to consider the roles, skills and values of other initiatives in the community and recognise where they can add value.
4. Transparency and communication
Central to this effective collaboration is developing a relationship based on mutual respect and trust, and regular communication and transparency is vital to achieving this.
5. Conflict resolution is a continuous process
The work of community platforms is most effective when they view and understand conflict resolution as a continuous process rather than a series of one-off activities.
6. Flexibility and adaptability
Across the Mano River region, communities have vastly different capacities and needs. This diversity has shown that it is critical that community platforms are not forced to work to a pre-defined model but are able to adapt their approach for their context.
7. A gender balance
The DPDs strive for a gender balance amongst their members, leadership positions and participants in their activities. Men and women are empowered to raise their voice and listen to each other so that all voices are heard. This gender balance enables alternative channels of outreach and sets the foundations for gender issues to be raised.
8. Long-term sustainability
Long-term sustainability has to be a key factor in the initial design of community-based programmes. Community members must be empowered to maintain their presence and respond at times of need regardless of funding. This can in part be achieved by removing any barriers to their work and diversifying the skills and knowledge throughout the platform.
You can read the full lessons learnt document with further information about the District Platforms for Dialogue model here.