Texting for peace: Whatsapp-based peacebuilding course for Yemeni activists
12 August 2016
As Yemen’s civil war continues to restrict space, and opportunities for civil society and youth activists to travel and attend workshops in different locations, Saferworld will deliver a remote learning peacebuilding course for its youth networks in Yemen using the popular mobile phone app ‘Whatsapp’.
As part of its youth programme, Saferworld will be delivering a remote learning peacebuilding course in Yemen, which will draw 120 participants from a variety of its youth and civil society networks. The participatory peacebuilding course, which is being developed by consultants Renée Amirault and Joel Maysonet and Yemeni consultancy DeepRoot, will seek to support youth activists as well as youth initiatives to develop transferable skills and knowledge to help increase their impact. It will also create space for activists across Yemen to discuss ideas, learn more about one another, and develop a common understanding of their shared challenges and hopes.
“Due to the challenges posed by the current conflict in Yemen, there is a need for innovative ways to communicate and reach out to youth,” said Nada Al-Moayed, Saferworld’s Youth Programme Coordinator and one of the course’s moderators. “Not only were the selected participants excited about the idea of using Whatsapp, but us moderators as well.”
The course is divided into seven sections, including an introductory module and six content modules, each with a unique focus. These include: resilience, conflict sensitivity, the “Do No Harm” principle, risk mitigation, action planning, relationship building, resource mobilisation, and awareness raising.
Each module will include posters, graphics and activities for participants to engage with. Users will also be able to create their own content to share with the group. In addition, the modules will include discussion questions and supplemental resources and audio files, which will be shared by moderators throughout the project to provide additional support and inspire dialogue among participants. Participants will also have the opportunity to discuss the potential duplication of the course in another format.
The course will be delivered using WhatsApp, where participants will be divided into ‘communities’, each of which will be assigned a course moderator. These moderators – who are volunteers from Saferworld’s Yemen team or from local partner organisations – will lead the participants through each module, providing advice and support and encouraging active participation.
Maged Sultan, the Head of Youth Without Borders Yemen, and one of the course’s moderators, noted that “the course will fill a big gap by supporting Yemeni youth to build their knowledge and capacities to better deal with emerging challenges in their local communities.“
The course builds on our previous peacebuilding work with Yemeni youth activists at the local and governorate levels through capacity building, training, networking and lesson sharing. We have also provided small grants to support local activities, such as an interactive theatre show in Hodeidah and a Pecha Kucha event in Aden promoting youth employment and peace. In addition, we have worked with our networks to advocate for peace among national and international audiences through social media campaigns, including the “Let’s Coexist” video, and a video on a Yemeni street artist - #MakeArtNotWar.