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February 3, 2023

USAID-S2S Engages CSOs on Conflict Sensitivity, Do No Harm

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Ruth Oginyi

A USAID-funded project S2S has engaged civil society organizations in Ebonyi state, southeast Nigeria on conflict sensitivity and the need to not harm anyone.

The S2S noted that civil society groups live and interact with the masses, especially the rural dwellers, and as such understands the best way to identify and avert conflict.

In a two-day Training Workshop organized by the USAID- State Accountability, Transparency, and Effectiveness, State2State Activity for its six project Sub-grantees and other selected CSOs in Ebonyi State, S2S urged Civil Society Organisations to be agents of conflict resolution and mitigation in their local communities rather than supporting such which will be harmful to the people.

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The training centered on Conflict Sensitivity and the “Do No Harm” Approach to CSOs activities and project implementations took place in Abakaliki the state capital.

Addressing the participants, State Team Lead, USAID-State2State, Dr. Sam Onyia explained the significance of CSOs in development hence the essence of the training.

According to him, CSOs are important for the achievement of the goals of USAID -S2S, in the State which is anchored on improving governance and service delivery to the masses.

“A peaceful environment for governance is key to achieving improved service delivery.

“let me say this, if we get governance right, we get service delivery right, and CSOs are the ones to help us achieve that because you are closer to the people.

In her submission, the Local Government Area Manager of State2State activities in Ebonyi State, Mrs. Victoria Ebere Eze, said the exercise was to build the capacity of CSO partners on strategies that can be used to avoid escalating tensions or conflict, adding that it would further enhance participants knowledge on concepts of conflict, conflict context, conflict mitigation as well as gender and social inclusion in conflict management.

She noted that it was also aimed at deepening participants’ understanding of ” Do No Harm” principles and how to apply it in their social engagements and urged the CSOs to always plan their activities in such a way it helps resolve issues rather than stimulate conflicts in their area.

“There are ways a CSO can relate to its community partners and it will cause harm to the society.

“So, every CSO is expected to be mindful of the kind of activity or program they implement in an environment.

“As development workers, we should show sensitivity in management of conflicts through constructive initiation, planning, and implementation of our activities.

“CSOs should not at any point use approaches that may lead to conflict or disintegration of the community where they are working.
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“We are hopeful that at the end of the training the trained CSOs will garner potential opportunities to promote positive relations to address drivers of conflict.”

Ejiro Okotie the State2State Gender and Social Inclusion Specialist, Ebonyi State, and the S2S conflict expert from Adamawa State, Danjuma Mohammed, in their presentations on diverse topics bordering on conflict context, conflict types, conflict environment, approaches to conflict sensitivity as well as concepts in peace building social dimensions in conflict management urged participants to be a good champion of peace.

Mr. Danjuma identified three basic steps to conflict sensitivity to include understanding of conflict context; understanding the interaction between the goal and the conflict context, as well as building flexibility between the goal and conflict context.

And said that proper coordination of the steps would help to avoid negative impacts while maximizing the positive.

“Conflict-sensitive approaches can be used at all stages of, and throughout a project cycle, starting from its planning stage, where baseline surveys are undertaken, up to the evaluation phase.

“Any action, including service delivery in a conflict-prone community or State, will inevitably have an impact on the peace and Conflict environment, either positive or negative; directly, indirectly, indirectly or unintentional.”

A consultant and project manager of Development and Integrity Intervention Goals Foundation (DIG), Dr. Emmanuel Abah, and the Executive Director of Public Enlightenment Project (PEP), Mrs. Lilian Ezenwa commended the state to S2S for the intensive training.

Abah said the training has equipped them as USAID-S2S Sub-grantees to understand important keys to the implementation of their programs

“We have seen the necessity in planning for unseen conflicts, so they don’t take us unawares when it comes” Abah acknowledged.

Ezenwa on her part said, “Some community members themselves could be very aggressive, because they feel the government has failed them: incomes are low, no market for farmers’ produce, and so on.

“There are also communal conflicts in some of the communities we work.

“So, for us as partners working with these people, we need to be sensitive, so that we will not go and escalate the crises, but be able with the skills acquired in this training, to manage and mitigate the conflicts.”

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