Empowering Local Peacebuilders
Peacebuilding operations in conflict and post-conflict societies often undermine local capacity, ownership, and sustainability. The acknowledged remedy is to empower local actors to take the lead in planning and implementing programs, but few empowerment strategies that work in practice have been documented and explained.
- Several organizations have reconfigured empowerment techniques traditionally used for peacetime development to work in societies emerging from conflict.
- Local actors have seized the chance presented by these new approaches to develop and implement their own creative solutions to conflict. Local ownership has in turn enabled the integration of other sectors of society and government into peacebuilding activities.
- Focus on facilitating processes instead of trying to achieve specific outcomes. Successful interventions help participants open channels to defend their own interests, with the participants determining the final decisions and outcomes.
- Design programs to promote learning rather than to yield specific results. Effective programs create opportunities for participants to seek out and absorb knowledge critical to good decision making.
- Don’t be deflected by political pressures. Even well-known empowerment principles (such as respecting local counterparts) can be sidelined if interveners do not prioritize them above the kinds of political pressures typically encountered in conflict zones.