Building food system resilience and supporting sustainable peace – A story from Somaliland

Despite relative stability, Somaliland continuous to grapple with multiple shocks and threats, including recurrent acute food insecurity and conflict over limited natural resources, especially grazing areas and water points in Sool and Sanaag regions. While livestock production makes up the backbone of Somaliland’s economy, droughts, land degradation and underdeveloped fodder value chains, severely impact food security, nutrition and overall well-being. Conflict in the region has driven food insecurity and conflict-induced hunger, by destroying agricultural land, farms and infrastructure, all crippling the economic stability. The recurrent need for humanitarian interventions demonstrates that resilience of the population and their food system is low, and responses are often not sufficient nor sustainable. Interventions to improve food security and nutrition can contribute to building resilience and maintaining peace.

Training on conflict prevention and resolution: A joint enterprise by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and Interpeace

In 2020, Interpeace through its primary partner in Somaliland, the Academy for Peace and Development (APD), and in collaboration with FAO, jointly conducted a training aimed at building the capacity of traditional and local leaders in conflict prevention and resolution. This training formed part of FAO’s wider Food and Nutrition Security Resilience Programme (FNS-REPRO), which aims to employ livelihood and resilience-based approaches to foster peace and address food insecurity in protracted crises.

The conflict prevention and resolution training emerged out of the recommendations from a previously conducted multi-disciplinary context analysis, which helped the FAO Somalia team to identify the key conflict drivers in Sool and Sanaag, some of the least stable regions of Somaliland and among the worst affected by food crises.  The analysis underlined the competition over scarce resources (land, water and pasture) as a key driver. Traditional leaders and elders were identified as playing a key role in both the management and instigation of resource-based conflicts.

The training sessions took place over the course of six days and included over 30 participants, representing the local communities of Sool and Sanaag. It intended to strengthen participants’ understanding of conflict, to train participants in conflict prevention and resolution processes and increase their awareness on the need towards finding more sustainable solutions to conflict.  Following Interpeace’s participatory and inclusive approach, the training championed more inclusive approaches in the resolution of conflict beyond the role of traditional leaders and elders.

Interpeace's strategic engagement with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) to enhance conflict-sensitive and peace responsive programming

The work in Somaliland is a recent activity as part of the strategic partnership between the FAO and Interpeace. In 2017, FAO and Interpeace signed a Memorandum of Understanding – renewed in 2020 - with the overall goal of developing, promoting and strengthening joint programmes and initiatives in support of FAO’s contributions to sustaining peace and conflict prevention. Based on this framework, FAO and Interpeace have collaborated, both at the institutional and field level, in the design and development of projects that are more peace responsive.

Interpeace’s work on peace responsiveness includes working with development and humanitarian actors to enhance their ability to operate in conflict-affected or fragile context to be more conflict sensitive and to deliberately contribute to peace through their technical programming. Based on a whole-of-systems approach, it advocates for all aid actors to start working on conflict in a way that enhances collective impact, across different fields or sectors, and focusses on already existing resilience and peace capacities in a society.



Rwanda Genocide Remembrance Day 2020: Monica McWilliams’ message of remembrance and hope

In 1994, the Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda claimed about 1million lives and left the country with the massive burden of overcoming this national trauma and building a fresh future.

The Chair of Interpeace’s Governing Board, Monica McWilliams, was in Rwanda recently and has spoken of her, ‘incredibly moving experience’ of visiting the Kigali Genocide Memorial.

In this video recording, issued today in remembrance of the Genocide against the Tutsi, Ms McWilliams says Rwanda is doing better in rebuilding from a genocidal history and fostering social cohesion. She also talks about how Interpeace is supporting the Government’s efforts in trauma healing in the country. “Rwanda is holding out the potential that we can move on,” Ms McWilliams says.

Watch video below:

NGO Consortium members vote Interpeace to chair Somalia peacebuilding group

Members of national and international civil society organizations operating in Somalia have voted Interpeace as the chair of a multi-agency peacebuilding working group. The Somalia NGO Consortium made the announcement on 27 January 2020.

Somalia NGO Consortium (SNC) is a voluntary coordination mechanism of national and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) working in Somalia and operates in Somaliland. The Consortium was established in 1999.

Interpeace will lead the Peacebuilding Working Group for a period of one year, together with Saferworld as co-chair. The peacebuilding group is one of 6 thematic working groups established by the Consortium to effectively coordinate and conduct development and humanitarian support in Somalia.

NGO Consortium members in session. Photo credit: NGO Consortium.

Our team in Somalia and Somaliland has welcomed the news with delight and expressed their commitment to work closely with many other organizations to improve social cohesion, community safety interventions and effectively build sustainable peace in Somalia.

“We are indeed excited and pleased to be coordinating and working in a cohesive way with our peer organisations,” said Ahmed Abdullahi, Interpeace’s Somalia Country Coordinator.

“This platform gives us the opportunity to shape and advance innovative approaches to address the root causes of violence and work on restoring trust between communities,” said Mr Abdullahi.

We can only build a more peaceful future through collaboration. Working together as a group within the consortium strengthens our work as a peacebuilding community to effectively contribute to Somalia’s vision for change.

The Somalia Peacebuilding Working Group is an opportunity to consolidate partnerships, build a stronger peacebuilding community in Somalia and demonstrate to the world that we are more efficient when we work together.

NGO Consortium members in session. Photo credit: NGO Consortium.

Towards “peace responsive” programming – Interpeace and FAO continue partnership to better address and prevent conflict

Most severe hunger crises around the world occur in situations affected by violent conflict. Finding better ways to address and prevent violent conflict is therefore necessary to eradicate hunger. In this regard, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) developed a corporate framework in 2018 that outlines how the organization contributes to sustaining peace through its interventions. Moving forward, FAO intends to understand better the conflict dynamics in which its programmes take place, in order to ensure it does no harm, but also identifies where it can help strengthen and consolidate local peace.

In 2017, FAO sought the expertise of Interpeace, made available through Interpeace’s Advisory Team (IPAT), to operationalise this corporate framework.  Over the course of 2018, Interpeace and FAO developed and tested tools that will enable more systematic and robust conflict-sensitive programming. One of the most important products from this partnership was the The Programme Clinic Facilitation Guide. Following a year of testing in FAO field offices, this publication is a self-explanatory guide that helps users make their project or programme conflict-sensitive. The guide provides a multi-step process that empowers staff to effectively apply conflict-sensitive programme design in fragile and conflict-affected contexts; twelve FAO country offices have used this Programme Clinic approach to date, which is supported by a Guide to Context Analysis to inform FAO decision-making. The Programme Clinic Facilitation Guide is the first step in an ongoing process that will help further strengthen the contributions to local peace through FAO programmes aimed at strengthening resilience and achieving socio-economic development outcomes.

Interpeace and FAO are now embarking on a second phase of this joint work. IPAT will accompany FAO in further strengthening its internal capacities and processes for conflict-sensitive programming, as well as distilling typical pathways through which FAO programmes contribute to local peace impacts, within the scope of its mandate.

With this partnership, IPAT pursues the second part of Interpeace’s mandate, assisting the international community in playing a more effective role in supporting peacebuilding efforts around the world.

It is also part of IPAT’s wider efforts to accompany humanitarian and development actors in becoming more “peace responsive” so that international efforts collectively aggregate to greater peace impacts. This is based on the premise that peacebuilding is not only a set of dedicated activities undertaken by specialized organisations like Interpeace, but also a way of engaging in conflict-affected societies that, if adopted and applied by a larger set of actors, has the potential to really ‘up the game’ for peace and SDG 16.

For more background information about our partnership, read:

Tackling hunger through a peacebuilding approach: Interpeace partners with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)



Re-conceptualization of violence in the Northern Triangle

The Heinrich Böll Foundation has formed the Network of Civil Society Organizations of the Northern Triangle of Central America, as a space for analysis, reflection and contribution among organizations in Guatemala, Honduras and El Salvador, with specialized knowledge on the issue of violence and insecurity in the region.

The book "Re-conceptualization of violence in the Northern Triangle" was written to challenge traditional approaches with which the problem of violence is tackled. In this document, the Network helps to re-interpret and re-dimension the issues of violence. Otto Argueta from Interpeace, writes about the: Transformations of gangs in El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras.

The Network is made up of Interpeace, Interpeace’s Regional Office for Latin America, Myrna Mack Foundation, Cooperativa Otra R.L., Plaza Pública, IUDPAS-UNAH, IUDOP-UCA and CIPRODEH.

IPAT resource note: conflict sensitivity

This paper aims to refine the available framework for analyzing conflict sensitive aid by more explicitly differentiating where tensions and conflicts lie that can be aggravated by aid providers.