Insight on Conflict is Peace Direct’s online resource on locally led peacebuilding. It allows us to publicise the work of hundreds of local peacebuilders around the world, way beyond the number we could directly fund ourselves. Since launching the site in 2006, we’ve expanded every year to reach the point now where we’ve profiled over 700 peacebuilding organisations in 22 regions, from Afghanistan to Uganda, Colombia to Thailand. We feature information on these groups to help donors, aid agencies and researchers to identify good peacebuilding groups and communicate with them. Around 40% of the groups we feature have no website of their own to promote their work.
The latest area where are now expanding the site is the Sahel in Africa. Recent developments have shown the gravity of some of the conflicts that affect these countries, from the rise of the Boko Haram Islamist forces in northern Nigeria, to the clashes between the government and separatist forces in Mali. Even in cases where countries are not in outright war, such conflicts can bring violence and destruction, and indeed the risk of wider war. Our aim over the next two years is to map local peacebuilders in Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Niger and Nigeria.
Our experience of other conflicts has shown us that there will be local organisations in all these countries working to peacefully resolve these conflicts, and we want to try and find out who they are so we can raise their profile and help bring more support for them. I’m very pleased to say that we’ve already found an excellent new Local Correspondent, Michael Olufemi Sodipo, to cover northern Nigeria. Michael is the founder of the Peace Initiatives Network, a renowned youth peace group in Kano State, northern Nigeria. Through local experts like Michael, we will soon be able to bring to a wider audience the work of peacebuilders across the Sahel.
Our Local Correspondents are a network of local researchers who help us to identify and vet the most credible organisations to showcase on the site. Because we work on a limited budget, we have to decide carefully which conflict-affected regions to focus on. This year we added Rwanda, because we wanted to build upon the good presence we’ve built up in other Great Lakes countries – Burundi, DR Congo, and Rwanda. Many of these groups are working on conflict issues that are linked, and we received funding from the United States Institute of Peace to support this expansion.
That has been a really exciting project to work on, because it has allowed us to not only improve the information we list online, but also support on-the-ground meetings for peacebuilders to network as well. In September, we held a Peace Exchange conference in Burundi, which brought together groups from across Burundi with local peacebuilding experts from Nigeria, Kenya, Liberia and DR Congo. In this way, we were able to extend the role of Insight On Conflict beyond information and into the field.
Funding for expansion of Insight on Conflict to the Sahel is being supported by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Insight on Conflict is also funded by the United States Institute of Peace and Wellspring Advisors.