Beginning in January 2022, Global Peace Foundation (GPF) Nigeria conducted a series of advocacy visits, training workshops, and other peacebuilding activities to mitigate future tension and violence in the South-South region of the country.
Rivers State was known to be the most volatile state in the South-South region. It had a notoriously high rate of crimes ranging from armed militancy and communal feuds, cultism, and kidnapping for ransom, to illegal theft and oil bunkering. GPF Nigeria saw a need and launched the peacebuilding initiative to address these significant issues driving youth to a life of violence and crime. The program applied a community-driven and system-strengthening approach to fortify the skills of critical stakeholders and promote peaceful coexistence through the vision of One Family under God.
With the guidance of GPF Nigeria, a 12-month plan was designed and implemented to promote peace and social cohesion while strengthening the ability of major stakeholder groups—traditional/community leaders, faith leaders, women, and youth leaders—to peacefully mitigate community disputes without collapsing into violent conflict. Through these consistent interventions, stakeholders started building mutual trust. Today, the South-South region has seen a reduction in crimes and enmity among people of different faiths and ethnicities.
Major accomplishments in 2022:
- The establishment of the Etche Peace and Reconciliation Committee. Composed of diverse community stakeholders, these influential leaders extend the message of peacebuilding to community members and support peaceful dialogue in times of conflict.
- The formation of 10 Cooperative Societies. Each Cooperative Society was supported with the sum of 100,000 nairas as seed capital to venture into various businesses. Prior to the disbursement of funds, beneficiaries were trained on principles of cooperation for effective management.
- One hundred people (50 selected women and 50 selected youth) participated in an Economic Empowerment training program that enhanced financial literacy, business planning and management, budgeting, and record keeping, consequently bringing about improvements in their various businesses. These business leaders were able to attract more patronage and profits, inspiring them to invest in their passions, avoid violence, and advocate for peace in their communities.
- A significant reduction in conflict and crimes. Before the intervention provided by the GPF program, community members rarely came together to discuss and resolve issues leading to grievances. Now, however, they are applying their skills and structure to pacify conflict situations through dialogue and community consensus.
Nwankwo Emeka from Etche was one of the beneficiaries of the training program. He shared that the program played a vital role in his life, both morally and financially. “The training sessions really enlightened me on violence management and how to live in peace and unity anywhere I find myself including in my family,” said Nwankwo. “With the help of GPF Nigeria’s Economic Empowerment Training program, I am able to start a Fish Farm with a few friends, and I strongly believe that with more training from them, I will soon be out of the financial struggle that has affected me. All I can say is thank you, Global Peace Foundation Nigeria.”