Income-generating activities as means of strengthening social cohesion

As part of its peacebuilding mission, Interpeace initiated, with the technical and financial support of the PATRIP Foundation, the Kreditanstalt für Wiederaufbau (KFW), Germany and Denmark, the “Brique par brick: strengthening social cohesion and preventing conflicts on the Mali-Burkina Faso border”. This initiative aims to promote the economic, political and social stabilization and resilience of communities living in fragile regions, particularly along the borders between Mali and Burkina Faso, and to promote local conflict resolution and prevention of violent extremism. To this end, Interpeace has developed a system to support the empowerment of women and young people.

The security crisis and community conflicts in the Sahel call for a synergy of actions by States, development partners and community organizations with the aim of reinstating or consolidating social cohesion and living together. Echoing the urgency inherent to this situation in the Mali-Burkina Faso border strip, Interpeace has developed, with the support of the PATRIP Foundation, the project “Brick by brick: strengthening social cohesion and preventing conflicts at the border Mali-Burkina Faso”. This initiative was preceded by a first phase which brought to the fore, in a participatory manner, the conflict dynamics of the border area as well as the responses to be addressed.

Among the proposed avenues, the development of income-generating activities with an environmental dimension stands out, the objective of which is to promote the empowerment of vulnerable populations, particularly women and young people. This approach helps to reduce the sources of social tension around the exploitation of natural resources.

In view of the community dimension of the activities and for issues linked to local ownership and the sustainability of the project, support for income-generating activities was carried out with the support of local organizations both in Mali and in Burkina Faso. Faso. These include Esther Vision from Burkina Faso and the NGO Action for the Development of Local Initiatives (ADILO) from Mali.

The support system for income-generating activities was developed in three stages. After a study to identify and popularize green jobs, sixty women and young people were chosen and trained in livestock breeding, cereal production, the processing of non-wood forest products and even beekeeping. The participants followed a participatory and inclusive process and according to criteria of vulnerability, age, gender and residence. At the end of the training, they were given installation and start-up kits. “I received training in beekeeping, then I was provided with production equipment. Thanks to this, I now have a profitable activity and I have acquired new knowledge about harvesting and marketing honey,” says Mamadou Traoré, a participant from Koloko, Burkina Faso.

In addition, the income-generating activities promoted launch different employment prospects with the aim of establishing alternatives to activities linked to the exploitation of natural resources which is the subject of tensions in the project intervention area. “Thanks to the training, I received skills that allow me to improve my productivity, conservation and marketing of soumbala. Today, we make more profits,” says Odette Sanou, a participant and soumbala producer from Koloko, Burkina Faso.

From comments collected from young people and women, it appears that these alternatives developed have made it possible to reduce competition around the exploitation of natural resources. Conflicts on this issue have therefore diminished. Indeed, all the participants recognized that before the project intervention, women derived most of their income from the exploitation of non-timber forest products: shea and néré among others. The resulting competition constituted a real source of daily conflicts. These often transcend families to involve entire villages.

Today, the promotion of income-generating activities has not only reduced competition around these activities, but has also allowed women to have other perspectives, considerably reducing conflicts linked to the exploitation of natural resources. Wassa Sanogo, a participant residing in Hermakono, Mali, stated that: “since I moved towards the breeding of small ruminants, I get along better with my co-wives and the other women who process and sell the shea’s nuts.

Also, difficulties in accessing land have exacerbated unemployment and precariousness among young people. This situation exposes them to the alternatives proposed by the armed groups present in the area. Support for carrying out income-generating activities is, from their point of view, likely to increase their empowerment and strengthen their resilience in the face of recruitment attempts by armed groups. Drissa Traoré, a participant residing in Hermakono, Mali, maintained that “thanks to the training, I was able to acquire farming techniques which allowed me to cultivate corn on one hectare and the harvests look good. I think that if all young people had this chance, terrorist groups would not have been able to enlist some and we would be at peace”.

Ultimately, if income-generating activities are primarily intended to support the empowerment of women and young people, they contribute to reducing competition around the exploitation of natural resources and strengthening their resilience. They therefore help prevent conflicts and strengthen social cohesion. This is why, for Interpeace and its partners, support for these activities as means of subsistence today constitute one of the alternatives for responding to these challenges in that African region.

Together for Peace


"There is no peace without development and growth, and there is no economic growth when there is no peace." To unlock the potential for growth and development for nearly 1/3 of the population, investment in peacebuilding is crucial. Despite the need, there is limited investment in this area. This is a gap Mirabaud understood, and what has now become the heart of the relationship and the journey together with Interpeace for more than 10 years.

Peace processes fail because solutions are imported or imposed. Therefore building lasting sustainable peace means that communities develop resilience - their own capacity to handle the challenges of today and tomorrow.

Défis et opportunités pour une mise en œuvre apaisée et effective du processus de Délimitation des territoires des villages (DTV) en Côte d’Ivoire

Cette note de synthèse présente les causes des tensions et blocages induits par les politiques de délimitation des territoires des villages (DTV) en Côte d’Ivoire, et propose des pistes d’action pour y répondre et favoriser une mise en œuvre plus apaisée et cohésive de ces processus.

Défis et opportunités pour une mise en œuvre apaisée et effective du processus de préservation des forêts classées et aires protégées en Côte d’Ivoire

Cette note de synthèse présente les causes des tensions et blocages induits par les politiques de préservation des forêts classées et aires protégées en Côte d’Ivoire, et propose des pistes d’action pour y répondre et favoriser une mise en œuvre plus apaisée et cohésive de ces processus.

Tackling root causes of conflict in Timor-Leste: CEPAD launches Strategic Review to address food security issues

Timor-Leste, one of the youngest democracies in the world, has faced numerous challenges in its journey to build sustainable peace. Recognized as an independent country fifteen years ago, in May 2002, it has faced serious political crises, violence, unemployment, and land disputes. Despite these problems, the Timorese have reached important achievements in the past five years: growth in their economy, a decrease in child mortality rates and peaceful elections.  However, the Timorese are still faced with the consequences of decades of social turmoil and one of the biggest challenges that remain are food security issues. On May 30, 2017, the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD) in partnership with Johns Hopkins University, successfully launched a report called, “Timor-Leste Strategic Review: Progress and Success in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 2”, which addresses the need to improve nutritional outcomes in the country.

Research has shown that there is a clear link between conflict and food security issues. Tackling the root causes of conflict in fragile countries therefore involves addressing these challenges. The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) has made food security a priority and Sustainable Development Goal 2 seeks to “end hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.”

A Couple in Oecusse, Timor-Leste. Photo credit: WFP Camila Urbina-Escobar

Timor-Leste is one of the countries with the highest rates of chronic undernutrition in the world.  Children and women are the most at risk of malnutrition. In 2013, 38% of children were underweight, and more than half of the nation’s children under five years old are stunted in bodies and brains. In the same year, 24.8% of women between 15-49 years old were underweight and 40% were anemic. Between 2013 and 2015, 26.9% of the country’s population experienced hunger. Moreover, Timor-Leste’s agriculture system does not produce enough food to feed the population. Factors that are contributing to this problem are unsustainable methods, poor soil fertility, land ownership issues, and farmer’s low motivation due to low profits. Additionally, the Timorese are experiencing the effects of climate change including higher temperatures and longer dry seasons.

Through the support of former President Ramos-Horta and the Bishop of Dili, a Strategic Review was undertaken by our local partner in Timor-Leste, the Centre of Studies for Peace and Development (CEPAD) and Johns Hopkins University, to determine what needs to be done to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG2). The Strategic Review portrays the nutrition challenges in Timor-Leste and is a mechanism that can help the government set priorities in the actions and policies implemented in the country to achieve SDG2. Moreover, it can help stakeholders develop programs to end hunger and achieve food security.

Timor-Leste. Photo credit: Steve Tickner

The Strategic Review was developed through a participatory research process, which initiated with a compilation of the most recent information and data about Timor-Leste’s nutrition, agriculture and food systems. Afterwards, the research team conducted a nation-wide consultation process with members of the government, international organizations, nongovernmental organizations, civil society organizations, as well as led community consultations. The data gathered was then analyzed to write recommendations on how Timor-Leste can progress towards achieving goal SDG2. Recommendations include ensuring national social protection programmes, improving operations and nutrition of the nationally owned School Meals Programme, improving agricultural productivity by promoting agroforestry, improving spices and coffee production, investing in women farmers, etc.

Since 2007, Interpeace has been working with CEPAD, supporting peacebuilding processes in Timor-Leste, establishing initiatives to help break cycles of violence and help create a climate where the Timorese can identify and address priority issues in non-violent ways. We celebrate CEPAD’s work and are proud of the successful launch of the Strategic Review to achieve SDG2 in Timor-Leste.

Timor-Leste. Photo credit: Steve Tickner

To read the full report visit the following link:

Timor-Leste Strategic Review: Progress and Success in Achieving the Sustainable Development Goal 2

Favoring technical training in “Boquerón” detention center in Guatemala

The “Boquerón” detention center is located in the district of Santa Rosa in Guatemala, less than an hour away from the capital. In 2015, Interpeace’s Regional Office for Latin America, began to implement a project to provide technical training for young inmates in this detention center. The project was made possible with the cooperation of the Spanish NGO International Youth Initiative and the financial support of Malaga’s City Hall.

For Interpeace, the implementation of treatment programmes in detention centers, is intended to promote rehabilitation processes and support the General Direction of the Penitentiary System in Guatemala. This is accomplished by providing inmates with social, educational, cultural and productive job training workshops.

As part of the project, technical training was provided for young inmates at “Boquerón” in graphic design, serigraphy and dye-sublimination; workshops in computer programming and maintenance, as well as diverse methods of craft elaborations. In addition to these workshops, the young inmates were also trained to develop skills in management and conflict transformation, psychology and personal motivation. Moreover, Interpeace provided them with a screen printing apparatus, as well as several supplies and equipment for dye-sublimination, which uses heat to transfer dye onto materials such as plastic, cards, paper, or fabric.

Workshop at Boquerón Detention Center in Guatemala. Photo credit: Interpeace.

The systematic nature of society requires interventions oriented toward generating synergies which favor interactions between different tracks or different sectors of society, which is why Interpeace also applied its Track 6 approach in this project. Interpeace officials performed several activities at the political level (Track 1) with the Vice Minister of Security and the Directives of the Penitentiary System, conducted activities with other organizations of civil society working in support of the prison system (Track 2) and implemented activities directly with the young inmates, who are the beneficiaries of the project (Track 3).

The ultimate goal of the project was to expand the social function of the prison system and to achieve specific objectives such as reducing leisure time in detention centers and provide methods of rehabilitation and social reintegration with respect to the inmates’ human dignity, human rights and laws.

Shirt elaborated by the participants of the Boquerón project in Guatemala. Photo credit: Interpeace.