“Engaging in the project…has given me as a woman a voice and opportunity to engage with authorities including elders and county officials. Here, a woman’s position was reserved to the kitchen and tending to livestock. I now successfully engage elders and authorities on sustainable use of water and pasture.”
Over the past year, Saferworld worked in northern Kenya where the effects of climate change have exacerbated conflict, as communities compete over scarce pasture and water. We supported dialogue and engagement between communities and county governments, which led to the development of rangeland management and planned grazing policies that set out guidelines on how to access, use and manage shared resources. This successfully reduced the level of conflict between communities.
"We have to accept that climate change is real, and we need to do something about it." - Speaker of Samburu County Assembly during a training on rangeland management, climate change and policy formulation held in Nakuru town.
“COVID-19 is something we have to live with, and we must use all of our efforts together to understand it and make sure the communities we live in also understand it.”
In countries affected by conflict like South Sudan, people are not only facing the threat of violence within and between communities, but also the threat of COVID-19. These dual dangers are perpetuating an ongoing cycle of suffering.
With misinformation about COVID-19 rife, challenging myths is essential to help halt the increase in cases. Saferworld partner C&D is one of many civil society organisations in South Sudan playing a critical role in doing this. One initiative it supports is ‘Coronavirus Response Bor’ – a project led by young volunteers. Through door-to-door outreach, radio talk shows and public speaker systems, the group raises awareness in the community of the dangers of COVID-19, its symptoms and how to reduce the risk of infection.
In Juba, our partner the Organization for Children’s Harmony (TOCH) is filling another crucial gap by communicating important messages in the languages people actually understand. This is vital because most of the messages about the pandemic from the South Sudanese Government and the World Health Organization are passed on to communities in English, rather than in Arabic or local languages – meaning that people who don’t speak English have been missing out on vital information.
“When we did our radio programme, communities were able to call back and ask questions or give comments,” explains Laker Joyce Patra, Head of Programmes at TOCH. “Many were saying that was the first radio show organised in their local language and were asking us to let these messages reach other communities who do not have access to radios.”
“Alf Ba started as an idea that emerged from a feminist trio, we wanted to create a platform for peace and freedom that has no limits and no restrictions, to be a starting point for spreading democratic thought and principles of justice, equality, and acceptance of others.”
After six years of conflict, Yemen is experiencing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. The conflict has cost an estimated 100,000 lives with 80 per cent of Yemenis in need of humanitarian assistance. Yet across the country, with Saferworld’s support, Yemenis are working hard to build peace in their communities. Together with our partners, we are supporting communities who are working for peace and safeguarding health in the pandemic, with our micro-grants benefitting 58,614 people during 2018-19.
The Saferworld supported partner - Alf Ba Civilization and Coexistence Foundation - works for peace and cohesion through practical projects that are identified and implemented by communities.
By bringing people together from different communities to collaborate on everyday safety issues, such as renovating disused public spaces and repairing damaged infrastructure networks, Alf Ba helps to build relationships, improve social cohesion and work for peace. Alf Ba have also been leading several COVID-19 response projects, including refurbishing an unused hospital, sanitising communal areas and carrying out virus awareness campaigns.
“In war, Alf Ba was one of the first to call for an end to the conflict and for restoring civil life, and we are trying to work with all parties to create a space for building the desired peace,” says Alf Ba Head of Programmes Ali Abdul-Ilah Salam. “We are an institution that has opened its doors to all, where many young people have trained and learnt a lot. This commitment continues to be renewed in activities that bring people together with their different mentalities, gender, race, and beliefs, and strengthens a common factor between them. That factor is humanity, manifested in different forms, that creates opportunities for each person according to their vision, purpose and speciality.”
Kyrgyzstan faces a range of challenges, including a fragile democracy and ongoing divides within the country – between north and south, Kyrgyz and Uzbek, young and old, religious and secular. Young people often have a very clear vision of peace and they have a vital role to play in preventing conflict – yet they are often excluded from participating in local and national decisions on issues surrounding this. Saferworld works with partners to support young people to be included in decision-making forums and processes, so that their voices can be heard and their participation ensured.
Twenty-year-old Odina Mamadalieva had wanted to participate in social movements since she was a child, but her parents wouldn’t allow it. “They argued that I’m a girl, and I was little,” she says. Odina has come a long way since then, and is now working for the Bazar Korgon district administrations. She recently participated in a youth camp organised by Saferworld, joining a diverse group of young women and men in Osh to learn more about tolerance and democratic values, as well as to take part in training, simulations and debates.
When the camp participants split into groups to discuss issues relevant to their specific regions, Odina was chosen as the facilitator for Bazar Korgon. After the camp, using the skills gained there and drawing on her contacts from her work in the local government, Odina continued to mobilise young women and men in her district to raise their security concerns. She now feels more confident in voicing her opinions and ideas:
With support and training from Saferworld, Odina and her group succeeded in forming an official youth committee in Bazar Korgon and they established a permanent office to work from. They were also able to secure 400,000 Som (around £4,400) in funding from the government to support their initiatives, including sports and cultural events. These activities brought young people together across ethnic and religious lines. For a community that was directly affected by violence in 2010 and where tensions between Kyrgyz and Uzbek ethnic groups remain high, this was an important step towards long-lasting peace.
Since the end of the country’s civil war in 1997, Tajikistan has been undergoing a slow process of reform in its governance and security sector. However, there is still widespread corruption and mistrust of the police, and this fuels violence and conflict. Through our partners, Saferworld brings police and communities together to improve relationships, forge partnerships based on trust, and reduce conflict.
During 2018-19, with five partners – the Association of Scientific and Technical Intelligentsia of Tajikistan, Zarshedabonu, Marifatnoki, and the Lawyers’ Associations of Pamir and Jahon – we worked with community members and authorities to develop and implement 21 community-led action plans to improve people’s safety and security. Community groups addressed problems including intercommunal conflicts, youth crime, corruption among authorities, and tensions between the police and communities.
Nationally, we worked with a network of 30 organisations to support dialogue within communities, and between communities and authorities. This network launched and ran its first advocacy and outreach campaigns, reaching an estimated 45,000 people and focusing on security concerns related to the underlying drivers of insecurity and violence within communities. The largest mobile phone network company in Tajikistan shared campaign messages with their users for free.
We also held two national conferences that brought together 330 security providers and 160 civil society representatives to discuss community policing and community security and to advocate for more people-centred security provision.
While some progress has been made in Tajikistan’s police reform process over the last decade, there are still major challenges around issues that are central to people’s security, including the marginalisation and exclusion of women, young people and religious minorities. Saferworld is working with partners, the government, national and local authorities, civil society and affected communities to ensure that the reform process leads to inclusive and responsive security provision using community policing and community security approaches.
“To empower women, first they need to be self-dependent,” says Basundhara. “When they are fully educated, they realise that they can face their problems on their own. To fully empower women, education is a must.”
Since Nepal’s decade-long conflict officially ended over ten years ago, the country has so far avoided falling back into violence. However, the rights of people from marginalised ethnic, religious, and gender minority groups – including Dalit, Tharu, Madhesi and Muslim communities – continue to be violated. Women in particular face high levels of gender-based violence, exclusionary patriarchal norms, and harmful social practices including child marriage. Our partners support marginalised groups to push the government to adopt policies and approaches that promote peace and gender equality, and we assist marginalised communities to get access to vital services that make daily life safer.
Basundhara Gaire became a widow in 2015, and though this stigmatised her, it also inspired her activism. Now she works as a women’s rights activist and a member of a Saferworld-supported group – Jan Jagaran Youth Club – that works to address concerns raised by her community in the Mahagadhimai municipality of Bara district in Province 2. Her activism is crucial towards building peace in her community.
“May rights for women prevail…For a beautiful peaceful Nepal, I want no violence in any house.”
Women from Madhesi, Dalit and other poorer communities suffer significant inequality in access to health services and endure higher neonatal and infant mortality rates. Basundhara travels daily to reach Dalit women and women of other minority groups. She provides vital services, such as postnatal care and one-to-one support on financial management and independence.
“I try to reach each and every family in my village, especially those with pregnant women or young nursing mothers,” explains Basundhara. “I teach the mothers about child nutrition and health, and how they can better take care of themselves and their children. I also inform them about the vaccinations available at public health posts, and I share community health-related information with the local municipal and ward offices.”
The easy availability of arms can fuel, prolong and intensify conflict, with devastating consequences for people’s lives. We work to strengthen national, regional and international controls on the global transfer of arms.
One of our biggest successes is the crucial role that we played in developing the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT) and bringing it into force. When the Treaty was finally passed into law in 2014, the achievement was the culmination of over 20 years’ work by Saferworld and other peacebuilding organisations. The Treaty – a significant breakthrough – was the first global treaty to regulate the international arms trade, with the purpose of reducing suffering and loss of life caused by illegal and irresponsible arms transfers. It aims to improve security and stability, and to contribute to international and regional peace.
With the Treaty in place, we are working hard to ensure it is properly implemented. We provide critical, analytical, legal and technical support to countries as they develop and implement the laws and regulations needed to comply with their ATT commitments. Our technical expertise and advocacy work are complemented by the efforts of our international partner organisations. Together, we influence and mobilise public and political opinion to ensure the Treaty is applied effectively by as many states as possible.
We’re also increasingly working with lawyers on legal challenges related to government decision-making on arms. For example, our advocacy work on UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia was instrumental in leading the Court of Appeal to declare that the UK Government had been acting unlawfully in issuing licences for arms exports to Saudi Arabia without taking proper account of the risk that they could be used in breach of international law in Yemen. However, still more needs to be done on this issue as the UK Government has recently announced plans to resume selling arms to Saudi Arabia despite acknowledging that the country could be using them to commit war crimes.
There can be no development without peace. People need peace just as they need food, water and shelter. That’s why Saferworld advocated for peace to be at the heart of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development – one of the most ambitious global initiatives of all time, aiming to end poverty, reduce violence and ensure prosperity for all by 2030.
When Member States adopted the Agenda in 2015, they signed up to a universally agreed vision to prevent conflict, address its root causes, and make peace sustainable in every country. They set out 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with Goal 16 as an unprecedented commitment to peace, justice and inclusion – all of which are essential to achieve the other goals within the Agenda.
The challenge for Saferworld now is to turn these commitments into reality. We work with UN agencies, governments and civil society to promote SDG16+ (the terms used to refer to all the peace-related targets across the 2030 Agenda) and to turn the goals into action – to build peace in conflict-affected contexts. We advocate on the importance of ensuring a gender perspective across all SDGs, and in particular within Goal 16. With partners, we raise awareness of the SDGs and provide advice to governments on how to implement the goals; we ensure that systems to monitor progress are robust; and we urge governments to adopt approaches that are conducive to peace.
By leaving a gift to Saferworld in your will, you can continue to make a difference for years to come. Your kind gift will be an enduring, meaningful legacy - helping people to live free from violent conflict, helping communities to build lasting peace, helping to create a safer world.
Your legacy donation will make a significant difference to people’s lives and could fund amazing projects like these.
To find out more about how you can leave a gift to Saferworld in your will, please visit our legacies page.