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Peace Building

Map highlights the Casamance region of Senegal consisting of Basse Casamance and Haute Casamance.
Map highlights the Casamance region of Senegal.

World Education has worked to build peace, resolve conflict, and promote pardon and reconciliation in the Casamance region of Senegal since 2001. Physically separated from the rest of country, the Casamance, a strip of land in the southern part of Senegal bordered to the north by The Gambia and to the south by Guinea Bissau, has been mired in a nearly 30-year conflict that has been associated with huge disruptions and loss of life. Its impact has not only retarded the pace of growth in Senegal, but also across the border in Guinea-Bissau and The Gambia. It has sustained multi-levels of mistrust and violence within and across communities, as well as created refugees and internally displaced persons, ruined infrastructure, and produced economic hardship, youth disenfranchisement, and non-functioning social institutions.

The current USAID-funded Peace in the Casamance program exemplifies World Education’s approach to peace building. This approach is:

casamance map
Theatre Kabrousse, a theatre troupe in the Casamance,
enacts a drama on conflict at a cultural weekend.
  • Inclusive – all stakeholders are engaged from the start of the program.
  • Conflict sensitive – a ‘Do No Harm’ approach is integrated into all programs to ensure that World Education’s support does not create additional conflict.
  • Enhances the capacity of local partners – local NGO partners are trained in conflict resolution and receiving support for enhanced organizational capacity.
  • Community driven – peace committees composed of traditional leaders, elected officials, women, youth, opinion leaders, representatives of refugees and other minority groups, work to resolve conflicts identified in their communities.
  • Based upon improved communication – since miscommunication and lack of information can fuel conflict, community radio is integrated to all efforts to promote peace.

The elements of this approach form the base of World Education’s two-year Peace in the Casamance program. This program has established 21 peace committees and seven cross-border commissions throughout the Casamance. These committees are composed of opinion leaders and community members representing the different social groups impacted by the conflict. By involving opinion leaders, local government, religious and traditional authorities, working closely with all members touched by the long conflict, and using techniques of conflict resolution and peace building, the program helped to resolve numerous inter/intra community conflicts.

World Educaiton Do no harm toolAs noted above, World Education integrates a "Do No Harm" approach* into all of its peace building activities. The idea is simple yet powerful: Development assistance is not neutral. Depending on the manner in which it is administered, it is possible to either effectively support a constructive peace process or to worsen an existing conflict. Which of the two outcomes that are supported depends on the strategy developed for implementation of the program. CDA Collaborative Learning Projects has developed an analytical framework that allows program implementers to map the interplay between development assistance and conflict throughout the program design, implementation, and monitoring and evaluation phases. World Education has adapted this analytical framework to develop a tool in French and English for use in its programs, designed to address conflict that allows an analysis of the various risks and opportunities involved, as well as the development of appropriate strategies for dealing with them.

World Education peace course photoWorld Education has also worked to teach peaceful means of cooperation, conflict resolution, and reconciliation to local primary school students and teachers. The three-year (2006 – 2009) Promoting Peace Education in the Casamance program, funded by USAID, created a peace education course for students and faculty in 82 schools throughout the region. This course, officially endorsed by the Senegal Ministry of Education, continues to be used by a number of schools in the region even though the program has ended. In addition to the course, members of the local community joined with participating students and teachers to form community-based peace committees that planned and oversaw various peace-related activities. The goal of this project was to introduce peaceful means of communication to members of the Casamance community, with an important focus on youth, as the area moved out of conflict and began rebuilding.


News from the Field

Learn more about what it's like for displaced people and refugees upon returning home after a conflict in: Refugees Return to Santhiaba Mandjack.

For more background on the conflict in the Casamance and World Education’s efforts to promote peace and reconciliation, see the case study: Building for Peace and Prosperity in the Casamance Region of Senegal.


*The concept of "Do No Harm" in the context of development assistance was formulated by Mary Anderson in her book of the same name.

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