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P4DP Framework for Assessing Resilience completes research and findings

Jos Garneo Cephas
The Executive Director of Plateform for Dialogue and Peace James S. Shilue and colleague displaying the research findings
The Executive Director of Plateform for Dialogue and Peace James S. Shilue and colleague displaying the research findings

Amidst widespread security concern being expressed by Liberians, a research that anticipates risks, to resolve challenges and response to non-violent conflict across Liberia has presented its completed outcomes and recommendations.

The eight months research work covered all the 15 sub political divisions of Liberia centered its research and findings on the diversity of conflict and factors of resilience.

The research was conducted in 2014 and 2015 by a National Working Group (NWG) of the Platform for Dialogue and Peace (P4DP) with support from Interpeace and the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

The Framework for Assessing Resilience(FAR) presentation of the National Working Group (NWG) recommendations and consultation findings which  took place November 27, 2015 in Sinkor Monrovia,  brought together international, national  leaders and  institutions  including  the Ministry of Internal Affairs, UNMIL,  USAID, among others.

P4DP is a Liberian NGO committed to making Liberia become a society based on good governance and civil participation to strengthen the capacities of state and non-state actors to prevent, manage and transform conflict through collaborative action.

P4DP has discovered resilience among Liberians as a special approach  to  gear towards finding solution by building capacity of individuals, households, communities and the wider society to resolve challenges collaboratively and non-violently  across social divides, response creatively to conflict and crisis, steer social change in ways that foster shared benefits of peace and development. 

Presenting the objective of the validation and summary of consultation findings of the group’s research, the Executive Director of Plateform for Dialogue and Peace James S. Shilue, said: “We are doing all this with the hope that the work done will avoid marginalization and encourage inclusion to promote tolerance in Liberia”.

He said the  there were strategy  and approach implored that involved various strategic and critical groupings that are concerned, like the Motor Bike Riders, Youth in petit Trade, Women Groupings in diverse areas of the society Traditional Leaders  ect. “These are some of the people who were sampled across the country and constituted the research work”, Shilue said.  

Mr. Shilue assured that the findings will help fill in the gaps as UNMIL anticipates it departure from the country amidst the serious concern majority of Liberians beginning to raise about security gaps when UNMIL finally leavers Liberia.

Giving the global overview, the Program Officer of Interpeace West Africa for the Framework for Accessing Resilience (FAR) project, Anupah Makoond said: “This  is the time Liberians be proud of themselves over what they can do and do best towards the development  of their country”.

Madam Makoond commended the Liberian government, P4DP and all other stakeholders that made the research to have the desire outcome. She stressed: “Now that you the Liberians, your own professionals have done great findings and should serve as bare rock of cohesion and the unity of the nation”.

FINDINGS

The research findings among others considered; the marginalization of women on all levels off society, the perception of weak state and governance deficits , increase pressures on land  and the absence of effective regulation fuels and responding to Ebola in a fragile state.

WAY FORWARD/ RECOMMENDATION:

Among several suggestions been put forth to strength both long and short terms resilience, the following paramount   policy suggestions were considered to:

1.    Program support for women to venture into array of activities that promotes women livelihoods, business opportunities for vulnerable women using  cash transfer prompts  and existing groups. 

• Proposal for groups that have deep interest in female gender empowerment and advocacy to help women to build their capacities and assets to promote peace more robustly in Liberia.

• Broaden the perspective of the inheritance law to resolve the conflict on duality of the customary and statutory of the law.

2. Establish strong dialogue mechanism that will mediate and support peaceful resolution of community disputes, SGBV cases, land and property disputes.

• Dialogue that involves participatory multi-stakeholders, community cell group, women community forums.

• Program proposal for organizations working to advocate rights of vulnerable groups, and feuding parties in communities.

3. The empowerment program for the youth in economic opportunities, political awareness, social inclusion and crime control.
• Program to engage youth current situation in socio-political involvement in activities that promotes peace.

• Because young people are being seen as part of the problem in Liberia and not the solution, and their contributions to society are  not being considered, their contribution are often not reflected in most programs designed to address the nation’s problems. There is therefore, a need to formulate projects that seek to enhance the capacity of Liberian youth for peace and society.

THE PROCESS

On count one, the NWG observed that because women are more vulnerable due to the patriarchal nature of Liberian society, which excludes and marginalizes them from enjoying equal rights and access to opportunities, women developed talents and have the capacity to engage in meaningful activities of various forms including, livelihoods, advocacy, community dialogue and forming advocacy group that not only help them to change their situation, but also to consolidate peace in Liberia.

Various intervention programs identified will not only improve the situation of this target group but will strengthen resilience and help to reshape the society and ensure sustainable peace. On count two, having dissected the various forms of land and property disputes and settlement mechanisms nationwide, the NWG noticed that land and property disputes have instigated series of unending violence that, if not properly handled, would spiral the country into another round of conflict.

In reference to the consultation finding, the NWG specifically recognized the effort of the traditional means of resolving conflict using chiefs, the NGOs working with communities, Land Commission, World Bank and several governmental committees and the courts.

However, they reviewed various government and Land Commission reports/policies and invited land experts to share light on land matters. Following these deliberations, the NWG agreed on an Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR), a broad-based multi-stakeholders mechanism, to bring together feuding parties and others connected to them as well as the government in order to have final settlement of the disputes.

Although not flawless, the NWG sees ADR as one of the best methods of resolving land and property disputes because in most instances, disputing parties would not hold grudges against each other but this approach promotes social cohesion and strengthens community bounds.

On count three, it was observed that the lack of will power to fight corruption and to adequately address security concerns have given rise to mistrust and lack of commitment on the part of the citizenry to respect and abide by the state’s common agenda. The NWG contended that a weak state can be strengthened for peaceful coexistence through broader citizen participation and renew social contract that prioritizes human security than regime security.

There was a consensus from both consultation finding and the NWG deliberations regarding the issues of security, rule of law, infrastructural development, job creation etc., that citizens are engaging into innovations and self-help initiatives because the state is not fully responsive to their needs and the lack of information available to the citizens on how much the state is doing.

Consequently, communities organize themselves into self-help groups in project management and implementation, security, and building their own social cohesion. And finally, count four recognized how the recent Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) outbreak exposed a weak health sector coupled with disbelief in government, key messages about the disease led to rampant transmission and breakdown in socio-cultural values.

From community perspective, various measures were adopted to cope with the deadly epidemic. The NWG observed that the EVD was beyond human comprehension, fractured familial relations and ruptured social cohesion among once closely-knitted social groups.

Substantiating field consultation findings, the NWG, in addition, noted that the effects of Ebola have also provided an opportunity for communities to resuscitate traditional security mechanisms, example, the stranger-father phenomenon that was widely deployed in most communities at the peak of the outbreak.

This phenomenon is like the health authority surveillance strategy aimed at controlling the spread of the EVD through limiting uncontrolled movement of people from one community to another.

The stranger-father phenomenon is traditionally used to ensure security of communities through organized local leadership structure whereby a non-resident bio-data are given or recorded by a community leader for any eventuality including conducting daily monitoring of non-residents in a particular community.

P4DP executive director James Shilue has expressed optimism about the contributions that the study will make towards the search for durable peace. Shilue wants the government and its development partners to capitalize and support these local resilient mechanisms, particularly as UNMIL drawdown looms.

“I am very impressed with what the National Working members have done. They spent, quality time working and teasing-up different thoughts and methods around [peacebuilding]. From the 1,152 people that were consulted in this country, there will be very uplifting outcomes that you will be excited about because it has been rigorous; it has been thorough and it had dedicated people working.

“I feel this is going to be a session where we can then come to the table, showing what Liberians have and what glues us rather than what divides us. I think this is where I find it to be very interesting,” Shilue said. 

The FAR research was conducted by P4DP, a Liberian civil society organization that promotes good governance and civic participation, by strengthening the capacities of state and non-state actors to prevent, manage and transform conflict through collaborative action. This was done in partnership with international Peace-building Alliance (Inter-peace), with funding from the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA).

 


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