Saferworld's annual review 2016-17
Saferworld believes in a world where everyone can lead peaceful, fulfilling lives, free from fear and insecurity. The prevalence of conflict and violence in so many parts of the world throughout 2016 -17 continued to challenge us and the ways we respond to crisis.
Our 2016 -17 annual review shares highlights of how we’ve applied our distinctive approach this past year, combining programming, research and advocacy at global, regional, national and community levels. With our partners, we have worked to change behaviours and relationships between communities, civil society, national authorities and international actors in Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
You can download a PDF version below, or use the navigation to explore the report.
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As outgoing chair I feel extremely privileged to have been closely involved with Saferworld for nearly three decades from its formation in 1989. I am particularly proud of the skill, devotion and integrity that Saferworld, its staff and partners have consistently demonstrated in their work, and of all that they have achieved during this time to prevent violent conflict and build safer lives. Owen Greene, Chair of the Board of Trustees, 2004-17
Introduction from the chair
Once again this year Saferworld has worked effectively, creatively and tirelessly towards its vision of a peaceful world. We have continued to apply our distinctive approach, combining programming, research and advocacy at global, regional, national and community levels to facilitate changes in behaviour and relationships between communities, civil society, national authorities, and international actors.
These are intensely challenging times, requiring sustained and dynamic efforts to make the most of new opportunities, learn lessons about how to scale-up successes from our programmes in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East, and to maximise progress on the implementation of international commitments such as the Arms Trade Treaty and the Sustainable Development Goals.
Over the last 12 years in which I have been chair we have grown dramatically: from about 40 staff and an annual turnover of some £1.8 million to our present staff of over 160 and an annual budget of approximately £15 million. But we have never prioritised growth for growth’s sake: only in order to improve our capacity and effectiveness, to better achieve Saferworld’s mission and to implement our strategic goals.
Today, Saferworld is one of the world’s most effective and innovative organisations working on conflict prevention and peacebuilding. While in July 2017 I passed the torch to a new chair, I feel honoured to continue to sit on the Board of Trustees of such an inspiring and dedicated organisation.
Chair of the Board of Trustees, 2004 –17
From the executive director
The prevalence of conflict and violence in so many parts of the world throughout 2016-17 continued to challenge us and the ways we respond to conflict crisis situations.
In Yemen, in spite of ongoing conflict our team supported local actions to bring people together and build up communities of resilience including piloting an innovative way (via WhatsApp) to reach out and support a broad range of young peacebuilders. In South Sudan, we continued working across communities harmed by the ongoing war to assist them to better challenge the culture of violence and employ practical ways to address insecurity and the appalling divisions imposed on society. In other contexts such as Myanmar and Tajikistan, we maintained longer term investments in community-based institutions and their relationships with state and local authorities.
Elsewhere we opened new strands of work including a focus on justice in Pakistan. At the same time, we maintained conflict prevention work at the international level – by linking research, policy and practice to address, for example, the tension between national and international security and peacebuilding concerns (including expanding popular narratives that contentiously link migration with perceptions around ‘violent extremism’), and the negative effect all this brings to people living with violent conflict. This Annual Review will give you a sample of these and other developments and we welcome you to explore our experiences more through Saferworld’s website, our colleagues or social media links.
Once again we hold in deep regard the courageous and steadfast work of our partners who are the main actors facilitating positive change in often threatening circumstances, and the reason why achievements sustain well beyond time-bound ‘projects’ in which we participate. In Nepal for example, building on networks developed through a Capacities for Peace project (which concluded in February 2016), Nepali civil society partners continue to play a critical role in sustaining peace.
Another significant event for us this year has been the review of Saferworld’s strategic priorities, revised now for the period 2017-21. The refreshed strategy builds on our fundamental approach that believes people should be at the heart of any conflict prevention or peacebuilding response, and that long-term peace requires investment in systemic change, in partnership, over time. I am excited about seeing us take the new strategy forward and make our core priorities count – such as fair access to security and justice; the importance of applying a gender- and conflict-sensitive approach; and the imperative to critically defend and advance global norms and practices that champion inclusive and just transitions to stability and peace.
I would like to take this opportunity to sincerely thank our dedicated partners and staff for demonstrating incredible commitment and compassion over the year; to our donors for their ongoing support, collaboration and confidence in what we do; and finally, acknowledge the encouragement and outstanding commitment Saferworld’s outgoing Chairperson has provided over the years. Thank you Owen.
Looking forward to continuing our collaboration in 2017-18.
Working with young peacebuilders
Over 600 million young people live in fragile and conflict-affected contexts. Saferworld believes that they have huge potential to contribute to peace. We work closely with young people to help ensure they have a say in decisions that affect them and to encourage authorities to make political processes inclusive. This maximises opportunities for young people to prevent conflict and build peace within their communities.
In the last year we have worked in partnership with youth organisations and others to strengthen the role of young people in contributing to peace in their communities and to support them in having a say in political processes at different levels. Bringing young people from different sides of conflict divides together, we facilitated dialogues between young people and decision-makers and we trained and mentored youth leaders in peacebuilding, advocacy, conflict sensitivity, electoral processes and methodologies to hold community dialogues or develop plans collectively to address community needs. This is not always straight-forward – it has required adaptability and creativity especially in contexts where space to speak out is increasingly restricted or impacted by conflict, or where conflict restricts mobility of young people to come together and address their concerns collectively.
Remote peacebuilding in Yemen
The current conflict in Yemen has had a major impact on the infrastructure and travel and there is a need for innovative ways to communicate and reach out to young people so that they can have a say in the country’s future. Saferworld has pioneered the use of online technology to bring youth activists together – without actually bringing them together physically, which is not currently possible. Using the widely-used instant messaging service WhatsApp, we hosted a virtual peacebuilding course providing a safe space for debate and discussion.
“Civil society organisations, parties and the government have to listen to youth and consider their opinions. We should not see the government and the parties in one position and the youth somewhere else.” – Muna Hashem, youth activist from Yemen
“We trained six facilitators, each of whom had their own discussion and training groups to lead, bringing together 120 participants virtually from across Sana’a, Taiz, Aden, Mukalla and Hodaida,” said Nada Al-Moayed, Saferworld’s Yemen youth project coordinator. “Each module covered different topics that aimed to equip young people with the skills and knowledge they would need to build peace – from resilience, conflict sensitivity and risk mitigation to action-planning, relationship-building and awareness-raising. The participants told me that they found the lessons very useful in helping them pursue their own peacebuilding projects as a result of what they had learnt and the connections they had made with each other”.
A street artist has spray-painted a mural showing how police can work with communities on their security needs. © Aynura Mamazhunusova/Saferworld
Overcoming division in Kyrgyzstan
In 2010, ethnic clashes in the southern part of Kyrgyzstan left many people dead and wounded and exposed some of the deep rifts between people from different ethnic groups. Saferworld and partners brought young people together to discuss and reflect on national, ethnic and religious biases which are often ingrained from childhood and that can lead to insecurity and violent conflict. “Problem-solving is a great way to forge bonds,” said Gulnur Soorbekova, project manager at Foundation for Tolerance International. “This is especially true when it addresses some of the security issues that might lead to tensions between different ethnic groups in the first place. By having young people from different backgrounds work together to address shared problems that they experience on a day-to-day basis – such as a lack of access to public services and employment, discrimination, harmful gender stereotypes, school bullying and a lack of opportunities to have their voices heard – they are often able to put aside their differences and biases, and strengthen their trust and their sense of community and belonging”.
Young people have played and continue to play a crucial role in peace, democracy and conflict transformation. Saferworld is committed to supporting young people and youth organisations in their struggle to access decision-makers and to shape the policies that affect them and their communities.
Promoting inclusive governance in Somalia and Somaliland
“My hope for future democratisation processes in Somalia is to get leaders who will respect and implement the constitution, and enhance the capacity of government institutions to deliver the services that citizens expect” - Hamud Mohamed, PUNSAA election observer
In the run up to Somalia’s elections, Saferworld worked alongside civil society, authorities, and with national and international groups to improve transparency and accountability throughout the election process to ensure Somalis had a greater say in the future of their country.
In February 2017, Somalia’s Lower and Upper Houses of Parliament elected the country’s new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, using an indirect selection process. The complicated process began in 2016 with 135 clan elders appointing 14,025 delegates representing numerous clans and sub-clans to elect the Lower House of Parliament. Members of the Upper House were in turn elected by the parliaments of the Federal Member States.
Three decades of violent conflict in Somalia have eroded institutional structures and severely strained the economy of this traditionally pastoral society. Severe drought, clan disputes, corruption, hard state security measures and al-Shabaab attacks all impact people’s security, access to justice, jobs, healthcare, food and nutrition. In this context, poorly run or contested elections have the potential to further destabilise the situation. Civil engagement in Somalia’s electoral processes is the first step toward public oversight and confidence in the credibility and integrity of a move to embrace democracy in the country.
Saferworld helped to establish platforms of diverse civil society groups and individuals in Somaliland (SONSAF), Puntland (PUNSAA) and South Central Somalia (SOCSENSA), and we have supported them for nearly ten years. During the 2016-17 elections these platforms offered a means for Somali people to connect and communicate with national and international policymakers. This has been important in promoting inclusive governance – as citizens' voices are rarely heard by policymakers in Somalia.
“Election observation is a valuable tool for improving the quality of elections. Observers help build public confidence in the integrity of the electoral processes”. Fadumo, election observer
One success of the 2016-17 electoral process – regardless of its unevenness – was the active engagement of ‘domestic election observers’ despite the challenging political and security environment. The observers, who were trained by Saferworld and partners, had varied duties including checking election materials and voter registration documents, deterring and reporting any incidents of violence or intimidation, and documenting the general atmosphere in polling stations. “Observing the electoral process was proactive, not confined solely to election day but crucially the steps beforehand including the planning phase, election officials’ recruitment and training, electoral delegates selection, campaigns, etc.,” reported Mohamed Noor, who served as PUNSAA chair from 2011- 14, and acted as a long-term observer for this electoral cycle.
Another positive benefit was the increased involvement of women in the 2016 election process. “The adoption and enforcement of the women’s quota was among the most interesting yet challenging occurrences in the male-dominated clan culture of Somalia. A woman defeated three men during the Upper House election within the Puntland Parliament – an amazing outcome!” stated former PUNSAA chair Mohamed.
After consultations with 1,500 participants in Somaliland, Saferworld helped to redraft the legislation on the election of the House of Representatives and then delivered it to the parliamentary committee. We also advocated with the Somaliland National Electoral Commission to change their voter education strategy to have elders convince communities to register to vote. This led to higher voter registration, new regions being registered for the first time, and wider public participation in previously resistant regions.
Saferworld’s work did not stop after the national election. In the lead-up to the next Somaliland presidential and parliamentary elections in 2018 we are supporting efforts to inform citizens on the voter registration process, assisting parliament in the amendment of the House of Representatives election legislation, strengthening the capacity of the three political parties that will contest the election, and training and deploying 500 election observers.
Empowering communities, supporting civil society and influencing national policy
We work to influence the behaviour of and relationships between communities, civil society, formal and informal authorities at all levels of society, and external actors who have power and influence in conflict-affected environments. Our work spans grassroots programming and activism that helps people deal with the immediate impacts of violent conflict, through to the broader, higher level systemic change necessary for peaceful political transitions and sustainable results.
At the community level we aim to act as a catalyst for change by supporting and empowering individuals and communities to implement their own solutions for resolving conflict. In 2016-17 we supported the creation and ongoing development of 126 community groups who addressed issues of safety and security in their communities. These groups reached over 611,000 people in conflict-affected communities. Some highlights from this work include:
- In South Sudan, eight community groups successfully addressed issues that were causing conflict. These included cattle rustling disputes, revenge killings, conflict over farmland, and child abductions. As well as resolving disputes, the groups also facilitated the deployment of police to protect civilians
- In Nepal, an external evaluation revealed that ten months after Saferworld’s project ended, groups we helped to set up are still working to identify and address community-level conflicts, and local governments are providing financial support
- In Yemen, the community group from Taiz has continued to operate (even though the Saferworld project ended in June 2016). The group has become a recognised and important community organisation which the local authority approached to support their public health campaign
- In Kyrgyzstan, after initial support from Saferworld, two crime prevention centres started to facilitate meetings independently, hosting discussions on community security concerns and developing joint proposals to address them.
Saferworld works to ensure civil society plays an active role in influencing authorities to lay the foundations for peace. In 2016-17, we supported the training of 990 representatives from 306 civil society organisations (CSOs) in ten countries to: better understand the conflict and gender dynamics that affect them; influence authorities to improve their policies; hold authorities to account to implement policies; and support communities to identify and address their conflict and security concern. Some highlights include:
- In Myanmar Saferworld supported the Kachin State Civil Society Network to produce a policy paper on security sector reform. Based on six township-level consultations with over 500 participants across Kachin State, the research was used as part of advocacy efforts with the largest ethnic armed group in Kachin and the Kachin State Parliament.
- In Nepal Saferworld trained civil society actors in conflict analysis skills and worked with them in different districts to identify areas of community tension so that threats could be addressed early on before they erupted into violence. When the project ended, the CSOs continued to produce regular ‘early warning and early response’ reports that informed policy recommendations to government.
- In Kenya Saferworld helped set up a coordination forum for CSOs working on peace and security. The focus was on ensuring that CSOs were well-positioned to support peaceful elections in 2017 by improving coordination and ensuring there was an organised response to election-related violence, including referral mechanisms to specialist organisations. With our support the forum has since evolved and now has small teams at national and county levels.
We also work to ensure authorities and governments in conflict-affected contexts are accountable, responsive to people’s needs, and supportive of their actions to help build peace. In 2016-17, to achieve our national-level successes we:
- improved the practices of 17 local, sub-national and national-level authorities in responding directly to conflict and to the security needs of communities
- trained 614 local and national authority representatives to address community safety issues taking into account the different impacts on women, men, girls and boys
- advocated for the re-activation of the National Steering Committee on Peacebuilding and Conflict Management in Kenya to improve government coordination efforts with civil society
- reviewed the evaluation mechanism for the performance of police officers in Kyrgyzstan and provided recommendations on crime prevention measures for the Kyrgyzstan National Defence Council
- provided technical support and recommendations to the Liberian government to conduct an assessment of their arms transfer controls in order to comply with their commitments under the Arms Trade Treaty. This contributed to improved understanding of the compliance needs and how to address them across the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS)
- set up a meeting between the Ugandan Minister for Land, Housing and Urban Development and community representatives from Nwoya and Nebbi districts to discuss land conflict issues. The meeting led to the adoption of a positive resolution
- liaised with the Punjab Public Prosecution Department in Pakistan to complete an analysis of 700 criminal case files to identify bottlenecks and constraints in the processing of cases through the criminal justice system in Multan, Muzaffargarh and Bahawalpur districts
- worked with the Nwoya district government in Uganda to develop 550 land conflict resolution logbooks to support the documentation of land conflict cases. We also advocated with three sub-county authorities to budget for land conflict resolution mechanisms.
Using the evidence and experience drawn from our partners, communities and programmes, we advocate for changes that favour conflict-affected communities. ©International Idea
Influencing external actors and international policy
In addition to our in-country programmes, Saferworld maintained high profile policy and advocacy work at national, regional and international levels relating to our strategic objectives. During 2016-17 our priorities included: challenging the dominant security narratives that lead to divisive, securitised, short-term counter-terrorism and counter-migration policies; the further development and implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals, in particular Goal 16 on peaceful, just and inclusive societies; and opposing UK, EU and US arms sales to the Saudi-led coalition in the context of the war in Yemen.
Given growing concerns about over-securitised and counter-productive approaches to counter-terror and violent extremism globally, we continued to develop our research and analysis and to promote dialogue on the impact of migration and counter-terror policies on conflict-affected contexts. In Kenya and Tunisia, we researched community perceptions of violence, counter-terror responses and countering violent extremism (CVE) programmes. These fed into a number of case studies and the widely read article ‘Shouldn’t YOU be countering violent extremism?’ which raised significant concerns about the impacts of CVE on peace, development and human rights in conflict contexts.
We highlighted the links between gender, peace, security, and inclusive societies within the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) framework, and we pushed for the integration of a gender perspective into Goal 16. We co-hosted a high-level consultation in New York in December 2016 on the importance of ensuring a gender perspective across the SDGs and we explored how to make gender commitments a reality in two publications: Making Goal 16 count – ensuring a gender perspective and Being ‘bold for change’: five ways we can put gender at the heart of the peace agenda. We supported civil society in the Horn of Africa to use the SDG framework to reinforce their work to build more peaceful, just and inclusive societies. We advised national governments and the international community on how the SDG commitments to peace can be translated into action. To help convey these messages, we also enabled civil society representatives from the Horn of Africa to participate in global debates on the SDGs in New York and other policy centres. Publications include: Peaceful, just and inclusive societies: What role for the 2030 Agenda in the Horn of Africa and Keeping the SDGs on track: did the 2017 UN High-Level Political Forum do its job?
In 2016 we became the lead agency in providing desk research support - called a 'helpdesk' - on human security and humanitarian assistance for the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency (Sida) as well as becoming a partner in a similar framework for the Austrian Development Agency. Over the last year, the Sida helpdesk has supported the integration of conflict sensitivity into Sida programmes in over 20 countries in Africa, Asia, Europe and the Middle East. It informed the development of a toolbox for integrating conflict sensitivity across Sida and provided input for thematic programmes and strategies on arms control, gender, resilience and conflict-sensitive humanitarian action. We also developed an online conflict sensitivity training course for European Union staff members to integrate conflict sensitivity into EU external action. We became a partner in the Dutch Knowledge Platform on Security & Rule of Law, which focuses on generating and collating evidence on security and justice issues. The platform provides evidence to 5,000 members – in particular the Dutch Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the ministries of security, defence, and justice and its UN Task Force and embassies, to ensure their decisions are made with the best possible information to hand.
Our work at the EU level included speaking at a European Parliament hearing and organising a workshop for officials from the European External Action Service and the European Commission. We also briefed EU officials on Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Yemen. As a result of our written and oral inputs in civil society consultations, the 2016 EU Strategic Framework for supporting security sector reform includes ‘community security’ as one of six priority areas for engagement, and human security as one of its overarching goals.
Saferworld’s United States office advocates for the US to adopt more people-centred approaches to its foreign policy and security strategy. The Washington office also serves as a focal point for Saferworld country offices to share research and lessons learned with US policymakers. In 2016-17, staff from Saferworld’s Kenya, Nepal and Central Asian programmes travelled to the US, along with Saferworld experts with specialisms in areas such as governance, early warning, gender and countering violent extremism (CVE). They spoke on panels, at roundtables, and by providing trainings and briefings to policymakers, providing first-hand experience alongside Saferworld’s research.
In the United Kingdom we work with government, parliament and UK-based development organisations to influence the UK’s approach in conflict-affected contexts. We also chair Bond’s Conflict Policy Group – a forum for discussion and policy formulation within and between the peacebuilding, development and humanitarian communities. Over the past year, we continued our advocacy on Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and on arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen. We followed developments in the UK’s policy on conflict issues, engaging with parliament and officials on: the role of the National Security Council in deciding policy in fragile states; the cross-government Conflict Stability and Security Fund; the Department for International Development’s approach to building stability; and aid effectiveness in fragile states. We informed decision makers and advocated for the suspension of UK arms exports for use in the Yemen conflict; both the parliamentary International Development Committee and the Business Committee called for a halt to arms sales to Saudi Arabia for use in Yemen.
We also worked with Gender Action for Peace and Security (GAPS) in the UK to conduct community consultations on the UK’s National Action Plan for Women, Peace and Security (WPS) in Myanmar and Somalia. The report findings were presented at a high-level meeting with the UK parliamentary group on WPS, attended by the Prime Minister’s Special Representative on Preventing Sexual Violence in Conflict.
In 2016-17 we worked across our advocacy platforms to oppose arms sales for use in the way in Yemen. We worked with the European Parliament to pressure Member States to take a much more restrictive approach to the sale of arms to parties to the conflict and in the US, we helped establish a working group focused on the prevention of US arms sales to Saudi Arabia. This created momentum that led to a vote in the Senate to block a major sale. Although the vote failed, the gesture was significant. In the UK, we provided oral evidence to a parliamentary inquiry on the sale of arms for use in Yemen and produced a statement in response to the joint report by the Business, Innovation and Skills and International Development Committees on UK-manufactured arms being used in Yemen. Globally, throughout the year we raised concerns about arms sales and the Yemen conflict in Arms Trade Treaty discussions, despite strong resistance from several major exporters and the Finnish ATT Presidency.
We encouraged and supported China to play a bigger role in conflict prevention. As part of our focus on China’s arms export controls, we established a Technical Expert Working Group with eight dual-use and arms export control experts from China, the UK, the US, Russia and South Korea. We also facilitated workshops and a study visit to the UK to discuss challenges with the Export Control Joint Unit. As China’s presence grows in Africa, so does its responsibility to ensure that its investments benefit local economies and people. We conducted research in Sigiri, Kenya, to provide recommendations to a Chinese company to develop a conflict-sensitive corporate social responsibility strategy for the construction of a new road and bridge project in Budalangi; we encouraged other Chinese companies working in South Sudan and Kenya to adopt a conflict-sensitive approach by engaging with communities, conducting conflict analyses and implementing recommendations; and we organised exchanges between civil society from South Sudan and Kenya, and Chinese government officials, policymakers, think tanks and academics.
South and South East Asia
In Nepal, we supported efforts to build peace and to improve community safety. In partnership with Nepali organisations we supported communities in identifying potential areas of conflict, analysing trends and helping them prepare timely responses. We made recommendations to government, local authorities, political parties and civil society on how to address tensions and to intervene with conflict-sensitive programmes. We conducted a conflict assessment in three earthquake-affected districts to understand conflict dynamics, including governance-related tensions, gender-based violence and tensions over resources in the wake of post-earthquake reconstruction and rehabilitation. In our gender, peace and security work, we trained and mentored five young journalists on gender-sensitive and conflict-sensitive research and reporting. Our advocacy and capacity-building work with civil society activists has raised important issues of transparency and accountability, and of supporting open government for peace and stability.
In Pakistan, we worked to improve people’s access to justice, encouraging justice institutions to be inclusive and accessible to all, including women, young people and marginalised groups. We began a new justice programme that included research components on access to justice, identifying bottlenecks and constraints in the criminal justice system and developing a focus on alternative semi-formal justice provision. In partnership we worked with national and sub-national authorities to promote gender-responsive policing in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa police department.
In Bangladesh, we worked with businesses across the country to become advocates for peace. Through focus group discussions and workshops we brought together small, medium and large enterprises, local government officials, trade licence and tax officials, community leaders, activists, political parties and representatives of marginalised groups. Together we looked at the ways in which businesses could contribute to a more peaceful society, with an emphasis on leveraging their links to authorities and government departments in order to address political, inter-communal and other forms of violence.
In Myanmar, we worked with civil society partners to improve community security and advocated for conflict-sensitive and gender-sensitive reform in security and justice governance. Over recent years we have established ourselves as a leading international organisation working on security sector reform and community safety in the country and we have built strong relationships across a range of CSOs, networks and peace process stakeholders. In 2016-17, our partners set up 26 working groups across four townships in Kayin and Mon State to better identify, prioritise and resolve concerns about community security. In Karen, we provided mentoring and held 17 workshops for civil society groups to improve their ability to discuss safety and security. We published a joint Saferworld-ODI report highlighting problems including common disputes, crimes and injustices experienced by people in Mon and Yangon, and the ways people seek to resolve them. Our research paper Security integration in Myanmar: past experiences and future visions was the first report in Myanmar to examine the positions of the main players involved in the peace process and how those perspectives are likely to affect security sector reform.
Europe and Central Asia
In Kyrgyzstan, we brought communities and authorities together to jointly identify and address their security concerns. Saferworld supported crime prevention centres that provided police and residents with a space where they could talk through challenges and develop plans for action. Together with our partners we conducted national-level research on school bullying, extortion and violence, and we raised awareness of the resulting dangers. We also trained ‘youth ambassadors’ to build links between young people from different backgrounds and to tackle the concerns of young people in their communities, including early marriage, ethnic intolerance and discrimination against the children of labour migrants.
With our partners in Tajikistan we brought communities and authorities together to discuss their safety and security problems and to find solutions. We facilitated police-community partnerships, raising awareness among the police and other authorities about the benefits of community-based policing and the need to work with communities to develop joint action plans and build trust. We also supported the authorities to train new team members on the community-based policing approach.
Along the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia, communities remained vulnerable to shootings and landmines on a daily basis. Together with our partners we supported photographers on both sides of the border to travel to communities and teach villagers the basics of photography so that they could document their daily lives and raise awareness of the challenges they face. This contributed to our research on perceptions held by communities living on both sides of the border.
In Kenya, during election periods ethnic tensions are often stoked by rival politicians, leading to community tensions and violence. In 2016-17, Saferworld worked to prevent violence and promote free, fair and more peaceful elections in Kenya. With partners we connected local, county and national actors across five Kenyan counties and supported communities to resolve emerging conflicts and to take part peacefully in electoral processes. We provided training for peace promoters and led consultations and dialogues with community leaders and civil society in each of the five counties. We held consultative election forums with religious leaders and election officials to discuss peace and security concerns. We also set up forums between different community groups and ran events that promoted cultural and social peace and tolerance, including supporting radio talk shows that promoted peaceful dialogue around the elections.
In Somalia/Somaliland, we promoted democratisation and improved governance. We supported organisations, particularly women’s groups and youth groups, to get involved in important decision-making processes on peace, security and development. We trained and deployed an election observer mission for the country’s indirect elections. We made significant progress supporting preparations for the Somaliland House of Representatives elections in late 2017, including the development of an election dispute resolution committee, the drafting of new election legislation, the deployment of election observer teams and widespread engagement on voter registration. Saferworld influenced policy changes across Somalia and Somaliland through supporting the effective participation of non-state groups in peacebuilding and statebuilding processes. We worked with non-state actor platforms in each region to improve mechanisms for governance and we increased people’s participation in public dialogue around peacebuilding. In addition to continued support to the non-state actor platforms, in 2016 Saferworld began working in three regions of Somalia to tackle mistrust that leads to violence and conflict among communities. We supported partners to create community groups to research and identify safety concerns, and we worked with security providers including the police to find locally-driven and appropriate solutions.
In South Sudan, despite the outbreak of renewed conflict in July 2016 we continued our work to improve community security with a strong emphasis on peacebuilding. We supported initiatives to build peace in highly conflict-affected areas in new locations and across county boundaries. Together with our partners, we held cross-border talks on peacebuilding and democratisation between young people in South Sudan and Sudan, to amplify young voices on issues relating to how their regions are governed. Along with our partners, we established ten new community action groups to identify and prioritise community problems and to find solutions to address immediate safety concerns, such as disputes over farmland, revenge killings and boundary disputes. We also started work in one additional state – Jonglei – and two additional counties – Bor and Rumbek East-Lakes State.
In Sudan, Saferworld supported partners in their efforts to influence national processes for building peace. We continued to facilitate dialogue and coordination between a diverse group of civil society actors, providing a platform that allows multiple voices to be heard and breaks down traditional barriers. We furthered significant work with young people across the border in South Sudan, supporting them in their peacebuilding initiatives within their communities. Meetings provided space for young people to exchange experiences and promote mutual understanding and acceptance. Saferworld continued to work with international actors to support national efforts for a just, peaceful and democratic Sudan.
In Uganda, the rapid development of the extractives sector has created a number of challenges including unclear laws and customs governing the ownership, acquisition and use of land, weak regulation of mining activity and inadequate protection for miners and their communities. Saferworld continued working with communities, authorities, civil society and businesses to promote conflict-sensitive approaches related to investments and land rights. We supported marble mining companies in Karamoja to work with communities using a conflict-sensitive and gender-sensitive approach; we organised meetings between national and local authorities and communities on land conflict issues; and we supported a local authority in establishing a mechanism to resolve land conflict cases.
Middle East and North Africa
In Yemen, ongoing war since 2015 has created one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. In 2016-17, we supported women, youth and community groups to deliver their own initiatives to build peace and respond to the impacts of war. Despite extremely challenging circumstances, these organisations and initiatives provided essential relief and safety to their communities, offered new skills to young people and promoted peaceful resolution of conflicts. We saw the positive impact of our long-running community security project in Taiz: the community group established itself as an independent community initiative, continuing to work after the end of the Saferworld project. We worked with young people as agents of peace, providing them with micro grants and training on peacebuilding to support their own projects to address community needs (as identified by them). Our new project on women’s roles in local peacebuilding started with research in Ibb and Aden. It highlighted the impact of the conflict on gender roles, women’s contribution to peace and social cohesion across communities, and women’s involvement in conflict.
Since the conflict started, Saferworld has invested in strengthening partners’ capacities to manage organisational and programmatic risks. Additional funds have enabled our team in Yemen to continue working, maintaining our partner relations and trust, and demonstrating our solidarity with people in a context where many organisations and civil society activists have left the country. We adapted activities constantly due to the rapidly-changing context and designed a WhatsApp-based participatory remote learning course for peacebuilding activists that enabled people from different parts of the country and across conflict divides to participate. Six modules have been designed in both English and Arabic and have been trialled with 120 participants, demonstrating an effective way to reach people in difficult-to-access locations with scant resources. Participants in the pilot have been very enthusiastic about the course and they have fed back many positive examples of self-funded training and activities using the course materials with their peers.
This is a top line summary of Saferworld's income and expenditure in 2017-17, taken from our full audited accounts. You can also download our accounts from the Charity Commission website.