At the Forefront for Lasting Peace
Women played a central role in the project that was initiated by CAMP and its partners in village in Malakand district. The cluster of CSOs was led by the Malakand Welfare Society (MWS), and supported by the Sikandar Welfare Organisation (SWO) and Women Awareness and Development Society (WADS). After a series of consultations with community members, women became an integral part of the project that resolved a long standing conflict.
The conflict over a passageway in Village Maina had caused friction among three tribes -Ghazi Khel, Usman Khel and Brazi Khel. This passageway was not only the most common travel route for local villagers but was also the most accessible way for communities to collect wood for fuel. Since the villagers also sold wood, it was a source of income for many. Children used the same route to go to school.
The passage was unpaved and often blocked due to heavy landslides. When villagers used alternate routes, such as agricultural lands, they would be blamed for damaging the crops and conflict would arise among the farmers and the travellers. As the cultivated land belonged to three community members from different tribes; therefore the conflict was not among individuals but among three tribes. This is common in rural and tribal communities.
Mediation by community elders in the past had brought some respite. However, eventually the landowners from all three tribes blocked the free passage from their agricultural fields. The villagers had to suffer as the fields were the only alternate route to the main passageway, which remained inaccessible during the rainy season. Women and children were the ones who had to suffer the most in such situations.
During consultations between communities and the CSOs’ Cluster, the communities proposed that if the passageway was paved and the blocks removed, the situation would improve for travellers. Since the issue was a priority for the community – including both men and women – the Cluster decided to resolve it through dialogue, Peace Jirga and construction of the passageway.
The cluster worked hard to include women in the project activities as they were important stakeholders; out of a total of 2,200 beneficiaries, half were women. Despite the challenge of involving women in public gatherings in the village, women became part of the Community Action Group (CAG) as well as the Peace Jirga; with 27% and 32% representation in the CAG and jirga respectively. A corner meeting was also held in which 14 women participated. It was quite unusual for women to be part of village level consultations but they felt comfortable because the meetings were all segregated, yet their voices were being heard!
Six women also received training on peace-building so that they could be part of future efforts to resolve conflicts at the family and community levels. In the words of Mr. Rahman Ghani, one of the beneficiary of this project, “The project has become a role model illustrating a conflict resolution effort by the community itself and by involving all members of the community. This initiative was much needed as apart from this particular conflict, there are many other conflicts in the area. The training we have received under this project will help us in resolving future conflicts.”
The training activity was especially organised at a local government school making it easy and accessible for women to attend. It is generally acceptable for women to go to schools and hospitals even in conservative areas of the country.
Women who were part of the CAG and jirga held awareness and sensitisation campaigns on the importance of peace for other women in the village. The female teachers involved in the project also raised awareness on the importance of peace in the community among students.
At the end of the project, the passageway was built with support from the small grant as well as the community. The project is significant in two ways; it not only resolved a community conflict but also involved women in the peacebuilding process as part of the jirga for the first time in village Maina. The project was handled sensitively by the Cluster, which was able to convince women to become a part of the community project without upsetting cultural norms.
The project has demonstrated the importance and ability of real community participation, especially of women in conservative rural areas, to promote peace-building.
Inclusivity from and for All
This is the story of Alif Jan, a resident of village Baidara, Swat and father of six children with disabilities. His life changed for the better after the project ‘Community Infrastructure Development for Peace and Development’ was implemented by a group of local civil society organisations in his village.
CAMP and Saferworld worked with civil society organisations like AWS, WWDO and Lawz in the Malakand region of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan, under the project ‘Promoting Participatory Approaches to Peace-building in KP’, to enhance their capacities in peace-building efforts. In the process, they were encouraged to engage communities to respond to conflict in more organised and effective ways. Special efforts were made to make the CSOs realise that the incorporation of perspectives and voices of marganalised groups in their strategies and actions is equally important.
The cluster of organisations implementing the project included Awami Welfare Society (AWS), Lawz Organisation and Women Welfare and Development Organisation (WWDO).
A non-metalled road linking village Baidara to Matta/Khwaza Khela road was a bone of contention among the villagers for the past five years; ironically it had been built by the same communities with their own funds. The road was about 1.5 Km long, with 49 houses lining the front and over two hundred households in the adjacent area.
The problem began when some families blocked the road by constructing a drainage channel at the opening, not realising that the drain would make it difficult for people to access the road. Due to the drainage channel, farmers living in the area had to use longer routes to take their harvest including fruit and vegetables to the market. Moreover, the contaminated water from the drain was causing damage to the agricultural lands. Pregnant women found it difficult to reach the nearby medical facility and children could not go to school during rainy season as the area would be flooded. Furthermore, the drainage had become a breeding site for mosquitoes, increasing the risk of Dengue and water-borne diseases among the local communities.
During the course of time, there had been three conflicts and five jirgas were also held to resolve the matter; all such efforts at resolving the conflict were in vain.
After several discussions with the community, the civil society organisations took up the challenge of resolving the conflict through community consultation and dialogue. Further, it was decided to build a proper drainage system and pave the street.
During the construction work, cluster members came to know that the unpaved road was not only a source of conflict among the communities but was also creating challenges in the lives of Alif Jan and his six children. Alif Jan’s six children – including three sons and three daughters – were aged between 10-22 years and were born with disabilities. For them it was not easy to access the road. During the rainy season, this limited accessibility was further restricted. At Jan’s request, the project team gathered additional funds and built a ramp from the metalled road to his home. After the construction of the ramp, Alif Jan’s children feel more confident about going to the market, school and heath centre.
“I am very thankful to CAMP, Saferworld, European Union and all the cluster members for making it easier for my children to be mobile. Now they can also be part of the community, said the grateful father at the paved road inauguration ceremony held on 4 December 2014.
A survey conducted in 2012 revealed that number of persons with disabilities in Swat District is 24,002; 87% of this population lives in rural areas. However, it is very unfortunate that, in Pakistan, people with disabilities are mostly unseen and unheard in schools, on buses, in the workplace, and restaurants etc. There is no understanding of the fact that this segment of the society needs to be facilitated with a special focus.
It is a matter of great pleasure for CAMP and Saferworld that through their efforts the CSOs were sensitised to learn about “inclusiveness”; including all the members of the community for developmental or conflict resolution initiatives.
Conflict Resolution through Fair Mediation
Mediation is a process in which an independent person/group assists parties in a dispute to address their differences and work towards a resolution. For any mediation process to be successful, it is very important that mediator(s) remain neutral and impartial, and treat all parties on equal footing.
The same was done by the cluster consisting of Shandur Women Forum (SWF), Integrated Chitral Development Program (ICDP), and Legal Aid Forum for Human Rights (LAFH) to resolve the conflict between three villages of Chitral under the Community Driven Development Initiatives for Peace.
Special efforts were made to make the CSOs realise the importance of local and traditional mediation processes as effective tools of peace-building. (Capacity building trainings on ‘Transforming Conflict and Building Peace’ – Module 3)
Chitral, the largest district of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in terms of area, consists mainly of mountains and barren lands. This has left people of the area with very few choices for livelihood and they are mostly confined to farming and livestock rearing. With the increase in population and subsequent infrastructure development, land for farming and grazing is depleting quickly. This has resulted in unfair distribution of natural resources like water and pasture lands. It has also given rise to many conflicts among the local tribes in the area. Floods, in the recent pasts, have further escalated the tension over the distribution of resources.
CAMP’s partner CSOs identified a long-standing conflict in three villages namely Jughoor, Reshun and Uchusht. The conflict was among the villagers and goat herders on grazing lands and forest. The local community blamed shepherds/goat herders for the devastation of land and pleaded that over-grazing is resulting in environmental degradation and floods. On the other hand, goat herders were adamant that they have been involved in harvesting and keeping goats since the time of their forefathers and have no other source of income.
This conflict dates back to 1902. Since then it has given rise to many individual and collective fights between the conflicting parties from the three villages. In some instances, shots were also fired between the opposing groups; on many occasions, they have even sued each other. Efforts were made in the past to resolve the issue with little or no success.
In order to resolve this long-standing conflict, the Cluster led by LAFH decided to use the mediation process. From each village, neutral notables were selected as mediators so that they could convince the conflicting parties to begin to negotiate. These notables met with the conflicting parties in all the three villages and assured them of a just and peaceful solution to the problem. Thus, they were able to win the confidence of the conflicting parties. In each village, stakeholders conference/Jirga was arranged in which representatives of all conflicting parties participated along with members of civil society, community activists and members of political parties. As an outcome of these meetings, committees were formed in village Jughoor and Uchusht to resolve the conflict. In Reshun, however, the conflicting parties agreed to remove all type of cattle from the forest area for ten years and the conflict was resolved.
These village level meetings culminated in a district level stakeholders’ conference where community members from all three villages participated. In addition, an advocacy session was also held where a draft resolution was developed to resolve the matter peacefully and end cattle grazing. The resolution was agreed upon by all stakeholders.
Through impartial mediation, cluster members managed to bring together rival groups on the same table to resolve a decades old issue. What a positive role mediators can play, when they mediate fairly!
Building Peace through Community Participation
When Shamsa Khan , a young political worker in Lower Dir, was made a member of the Community Action Group (CAG) under the project ‘Local Initiative of Political Empowerment for Peace’, she had no idea what the group would be doing. More importantly, she was confused about her role in the group, considering the fact that in Lower Dir, women’s participation in all spheres of life is limited due to cultural norms.
The project around political empowerment was implemented by a cluster of local civil society organisations in Lower Dir, including Association for Behaviour and Knowledge Transformation (ABKT), Rural Development Organisation (RDO), and Dehi Ijtimai Taraqiati Social Worker Council (DITSWC).
A few days later, Shamsa was conducting meetings with female workers from other political parties, informing them about the project, and inviting them to receive trainings on communication, advocacy, peace-building, political and human rights to be held under the project.
“I tried to contribute fully, in whatever capacity I could, after this responsibility was given to me. I not only motivated female political workers but also spread awareness among women in my family, community, and other political workers regarding political matters. Personally, I have also learnt a lot from this initiative and look forward to improving my knowledge on political matters through the monthly meetings the CAG members hold,” said Shamsa .
Formation of Community Action Groups for Community Driven Development Initiatives for Peace was an initiative taken by CAMP and Saferworld to ensure local communities participate in problem identification, prioritisation and selection of an issue, project planning, execution and monitoring. Formation of CAG was mandatory for clusters to implement projects under the small grants scheme. ABKT and its partners formed a nine member group after consulting the community. Two women, including Shamsa, were also made part of the group.
It is worth mentioning that not only Shamsa, but all the other members of the CAG actively participated in project implementation, monitoring and evaluation. Participatory approach adopted by the cluster members shaped CAG’s behaviour and evolved a systematic response to local conflict issues emerging from time to time. For instance, when Army Public School Peshawar was attacked on 16 December 2014, CAG responded immediately and arranged a protest demonstration and vigil to condemn the terrorist attack and express solidarity with the victims at the Main Gorgorai Chock Timergara, Lower Dir. Similarly, when miscreants attacked Imamia Mosque Peshawar on 13 February 2015, once again the CAG responded immediately and arranged demonstration and vigil to condemn this brutal act despite the fact that the number of Shia population in the district is very low.
Through the efforts of the cluster and CAG members, first time in the history of Timergara all prominent political parties nominated participants from their women wings for the training. A total of 25 women participated in three trainings.
The idea of CAG and its active involvement also influenced District Sports Officer, Mr. Suleman Khan to accept the invitation to become a member of CAG.
In the midst of conflict in the region, small initiatives taken by local CSOs can be really effective in promoting reconciliation and building peace. Participatory projects that ensure input from and implementation by the community, maximise that potential. The active involvement of Shamsa and other CAG members in this project is an example of that.
Public and Private Partnership for Mutual Peace
There is no denying the fact that governments are primarily responsible for protecting civilians against violence and conflict. However, the diversity and complexity of the conflicts necessitates a comprehensive network of relationships and actions. In this process, civil society organisations (CSOs) can play a critical role by assisting in changing the root causes of conflict, preventing violence, protecting civilians, and in facilitating processes to bring political and social resolution of conflicts.
Through collaborating with political leaders, participation in policy dialogues, monitoring and advocacy, CSOs also play a role in making the elected representatives and state institutions more responsive to the needs of their citizens.
The above-mentioned statement can be substantiated by the example of the project ‘Promoting Peace-building in Upper Dir’, implemented by Dir Area Development Organisation (DADO) and Komrat Development Organisation (KDO), under the ‘Community Development Initiatives for Peace’ supported by Community Appraisal and Motivation Programme (CAMP).
During the capacity building trainings on ‘Transforming Conflict and Building Peace’, a special session based on Module 5 of the training manual was dedicated for sensitising the CSOs on stakeholders mapping so that they could work towards sustainable peace through identifying various stakeholders and initiating collective efforts and systems for managing differences peacefully.
The conflict between the villages Kandawgay and Bekaray in Union Council Dir Urban started in 2008 when the inhabitants of village Kandawgay requested the elders of village Bekaray to give them a source of water supply for their village. Their request was rejected on the plea that water for the residents of Bekaray would fall short. On this, the residents of Kandawgay refused to give their land to install electricity polls for electricity supply to Bekaray. Several conflicts had taken place between these two villages on the issue and efforts by government officials, local paralegal, and elders of the community had not borne any fruit.
The breakthrough finally came when CAMP’s partners decided to work on this issue under the ‘Community Driven Development Initiatives for Peace’. In addition to the Community Action Group (CAG), the project focused on restoration of water supply and electricity to the respective villages by forming a Dispute Resolution Committee (DRC) consisting of ten members. After several meetings with all relevant stakeholders, the cluster finally managed to sign a peace agreement through two Grand Jirgas organised in the both the villages. Both the parties agreed to solve the matter through negotiations. Land for installation of electricity poles was also identified at the end of these jirgas. To create a sense of ownership for the project, a fund raising activity was also held for the purpose of raising funds from the community. These funds were used for the installation of pipes to supply water to village Kandawgay. Finally, a meeting was held to demarcate land and to assess the amount of funds that were needed for installation of electricity poles.
Since the community would not be able to raise enough funds for electric work, the cluster and CAG decided to involve Member Provincial Assembly, Mr. Inayat Ullah who was elected from the local constituency. The community and CSOs cluster went to meet the MPA and requested for funds for the installation of electricity poles.
The MPA expressed his commitment to the cause and said that he would look into the matter. Later, he sent his secretary as his representative to both the villages. The secretary met with CAG members and village elders. He promised the residents, on behalf of the MPA, that a grant of one million rupees will be sanctioned for the installation of poles and further development of the area including construction of paved road between the two villages.
The community, CAMP, and Saferworld, all are optimistic that the promised funds will be released soon, so that the residents of both the villages can enjoy the fruits of development and sustainable peace.
Designing a Peace-building Infrastructure
The conflict that erupted in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province in 2007 and the military operation that followed, led to further weakening of the already poor infrastructure. Furthermore, the floods of 2010 and 2011 made conditions worse. Consequently, “infrastructure was one of the most damaged sectors where some 2,000 kilometres of roads, 170 bridges, 700 educational and 150 health facilities and 158 government buildings were completely destroyed”. The damage to community infrastructure and institutions gave birth to numerous conflicts between the communities. Therefore, it was no surprise when 10 out of 14 proposals under ‘Community Driven Development Initiatives for Peace’ were related to infrastructural development or restoration.
The case study given below is one of the ten initiatives taken by the KP CSOs for conflict resolution and reflects the importance of infrastructure development as a factor in successful peace-building.
To respond to the local infrastructure development needs in district Shangla, a national organisation funded a water supply scheme for Village Liolowani in 2014. Although the scheme was beneficial for the residents of Lilowani, the other two villages, Tauheedabad and Barkalay that were at the source of the water supply were left out of the project. The villages located at the source stopped water flow to Lilowani. As a result, a scheme worth rupees 12.5 million was not only abandoned but also created conflict among the communities of three villages.
During the community consultation meetings for Community Driven Development Initiatives for Peace, this issue was prioritised by the community. It was discussed that women and children were the ones suffering the most in these villages since they had to travel long distances to fetch water. At the same time, the fact that the water supply lines were installed but were not benefitting anyone had left the people frustrated.
Keeping in mind the community’s needs and priorities, the cluster comprising of Sustainable Development Society (SDS) and Network for Social Development (NDS) decided to work with the community for a solution to the problem. To get the conflicting parties to talk, the cluster formed four Peace Committees, two each for men and women in the villages. Dialogues were arranged for the community members so that they could discuss possible solutions to the conflict. In addition, training workshops were arranged for the community members by the cluster so that they could resolve their future issues in an organised manner. In order to resolve the issue, while keeping all the stakeholders on board, the cluster also held meetings with the district administration. At the conclusion of the project, a jirga was held to announce that the conflicting parties had agreed to a solution.
Although construction of a water supply scheme for the villages was initially not within the scope of the project, the cluster decided to divert some funds for the construction of pipelines so that the problem could be resolved. CAMP approved this change in the implementation plan. Moreover, SDS contributed funds to this cause and the community also participated in fund raising to ensure that the villages at the source could benefit from the water reservoir. The project budget and funds from SDS allowed for allocation of Rs. 70,000 while Rs.160, 000 were collected from the community for the construction of the water supply scheme.
The slight deviation in activities from soft to hard and the routing of budget towards the construction of the water supply scheme helped resolve a conflict.
Post-conflict KP needs more infrastructure development to achieve sustainable peace. The peace-building process would also be more sustainable if careful consideration is given to the needs and potentials of different stakeholders: women, youth, conflicting parties, civil society, the elders/jirga members etc.
Discovering, Designing, Delivering through Capacity Building
“We are working in the development sector since 2003, but the technical things we learnt during the capacity building training by CAMP and Saferworld helped us a lot in getting focused and spreading awareness among the community regarding peace initiatives.”
These thoughts were shared by Mr. Hakeem Zada, Chairperson, Rural Development Organisation (RDO), while talking to CAMP about his experience of working on the Community Driven Development Initiative for Peace in District Buner.
His views were reciprocated by Mr. Bakht Bahadaur, Chairperson, Joint Action for Rights Guidance and Awareness Organisation (JARGA).
“Earlier, we had never worked on conflict resolution. Through the capacity building trainings by CAMP, we learned how to deal with a conflict and through the small grants projects, we were able to practically implement the theoretical knowledge gained during these trainings.”
Together, both these organisations formed a cluster in Buner to resolve a conflict over a water source.
After several consultations with the community, RDO and JARGA decided to resolve a conflict over a water pond between two groups in Village Mulla Yousaf. The water from the pond was being used for both drinking and bathing purposes, and had led to a conflict between two groups who believed each of them had the right over how to use the water. After mediation by the partner CSOs, both parties agreed to build a separate water tank and bathing place which would serve the purpose for both groups and resolve the conflict. The project eventually benefited 300 households and 2,400 individuals of the area that included 470 women, 600 youth and 820 children.
One of the highlights of the project was the involvement of women in resolving the issue. Two women became part of the Community Action Group (CAG) and they sensitised other women in the community on the issue of fair water usage through a door-to-door campaign. “We were able to sensitise all members of society, from the uneducated and poor to the influential. In doing so, role play exercise that we did during the training workshop (Module 3) helped us a lot. During that exercise we learnt how to highlight an issue and contact various stakeholders who could help influence community members. This exercise helped us to convince people that women’s participation in community matters is neither against Islam nor against tradition”, said Mr. Hakeem Zada.
Apart from conducting focus group discussions and consultative workshops for addressing the problem, RDO and JARGA also imparted basic conflict resolution training to 30 men and 24 women through four training sessions. These trainings would also help these community members in resolving community level conflicts in the future. Moreover, the CAG was encouraged to stay intact by holding regular formal and informal meetings. CAG is also involved in the maintenance of the water tank and bathing place.
The knowledge that CSOs gained through capacity building training not only helped in implementing the community driven development initiatives for peace through small grants, but also gave them the idea of making ‘Insaf Committees’ in nine out of 22 union councils in Buner. “After receiving training from CAMP we made ‘Insaf committees’. Each committee consists of four to five people from the area who have a good reputation, and can help to resolve petty disputes at the community level. They are also linked with local police stations so that in case there is a dispute or fight between two people or groups, the matter can be resolved at the earliest.
CAMP and Saferworld believe that the capacity building initiative taken by the peace-building project has not enhanced knowledge and skills of CSO staff, but also improved coordination among local CSOs. According to Bakht, “Working on this project helped us work on our professional connections. We belong to the same area, but we didn’t have a cordial relationship before working on this project. Through this project, our coordination with each other has increased and now we contact each other often to seek guidance and help on professional matters.”
It is expected that this increased capacity and coordination will have a positive impact on the overall peace-building efforts in the area.