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May 2015: The PBEA Post – Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy: Regional update

High Level Commitments for Children in Fragile
Settings

Adolescents at school in Dadaab, photo by Abshiro Ibrahim

 
To better serve children and young people in fragile settings, UNICEF’s PBEA pilot initiative has been working global-ly to deliver evidence-based programmes that are ‘fit for context’. Recognizing the challenges of working in fragile settings, ESARO’s Regional Management Team constituted a ‘Peer Group on Fragile Settings’ comprised of Country Representatives from 12 ESAR countries (Burundi, Comoros, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Rwanda, Somalia, South Sudan, Uganda, and Zimbabwe), HATIS members and senior regional office management.

In the wake of the recent tragedy where four UNICEF staff were killed in Somalia, with others injured, the Peer Group’s inaugural meeting was held at the recent RMT meeting conducted at the end of May in Nairobi, Kenya. Dur-ing its first meeting, UNICEF’s senior management endorsed the objectives of the Peer Group to: review conditions of fragility in countries classified by the OECD as ‘fragile’; consider how those conditions affect UNICEF’s program-ming; provide recommendations for Country Offices on how to mitigate risks for children and young people; create a platform for dialogue on challenges, experiences, regional trends; & exchange good practices for ensuring UNICEF programmes increase their effectiveness in situations of fragility.

This first meeting, seen as a ‘test’ of how the group might work in the future, proved highly effective and will strengthen the work of UNICEF in the ESA region. Burundi’s Country Representative presented on issues of adoles-cents and youth, research, conflict sensitive monitoring and programming. The presentation generated much inter-est around peacebuilding and risk-informed programming and how to apply those lessons in other countries.

The Peer Group noted that research on ‘intergenerational violence’ is a strong basis for identifying the impacts of conflict and fragility and wished to learn more on engaging with host governments on sensitive issues in fragile settings. Other key areas identified for exchange were: the role of language as a tool for social and political exclu-sion; engaging youth in highly politicized environments; lessons on protecting children in high risk settings; how to address the politicization of schools; and cultural forms of violence that contribute to a climate of ‘paranoia/fear’. Peer Group members also appreciated efforts to strengthen ‘do no harm’ through conflict sensitive monitoring, pointing to this as an effective way to strengthen UNICEF programme procedures in fragile settings and recognized that ‘classical education models’ such as the Child Friendly Schools can address issues of politicization and cultural forms of violence if applied with a peacebuilding lens.

Priority topics noted for future discussion by the Peer Group were: reviewing social, economic, and political factors that contribute to fragility; risk management and remote programming in high-risk environments such as Somalia; incorporating children’s issues into Peacebuilding and State building Goals (PSGs); addressing adolescent and youth radicalization; and strengthening social service delivery as a component of PB in fragile contexts.

The establishment of this group and the endorsement of its members signifies the tremendous commitment of UNICEF to deliver results for children. It bodes well for ensuring UNICEF remains a global lead in promoting the rights of all children and young people, even in the most difficult settings.
 

PBEA making news in Dadaab

19-year-old Abshiro Ibrahim lives in Dadaab, but she plans to travel the world as a journalist

 
The following is the personal account of Abshiro, who tells her story from when she was a little girl to an aspiring broadcast journalist:

“I left my home in the hinterlands of South Central Somalia several times during the 1990s, getting as far as Djibouti, Kenya, even South Africa, but I always came back, hoping that the indiscriminate and inordinate civil war, and the unimaginable violence that had been raging in the region since 1991, had stopped.

“Growing up in Somalia was horrendous, and not something you would wish for any human being. It is lawless and people killed each other on a daily basis. There was no education, no functioning society, so my education was interrupted from an early age. I had to try to survive rather than thinking about going to school.

“Eventually my family decided to trek to Dadaab IFO refugee camp in Kenya. We registered with the UN Refugee Agency [UNHCR] when we finally arrived, a momentous thing, because all refugees were provided with a ration card entitling us to food, shelter, water and healthcare. I was only 11 years old when we arrived in Dadaab but I really noticed the support offered to all refugees. There is nothing I can compare with Kenya's generosity for hosting us for more than two decades, though when we first arrived in Dadaab, we didn't realize that the camp would unfortunately become our permanent home.”

Abshiro joined a primary school within the camp and managed to study there for five years. She then had to drop out to take care of her ailing mother and support with the household chores. This was greatly disappointing for Abshiro as she felt she had lost hope of ever getting a career.

In 2014, the Youth Education Pack (YEP) centres (post primary-vocational training centers that were established and run by the Norwegian Refugee Council for the last eight years) started new four-month vocational courses, which were supported by UNICEF. Abshiro was one of the first students to sign up and she enrolled in a photography course .

In the training, she learned about entrepreneurship, broadcasting, editing, video recording, photography, media trends, economics in media services, live reporting, interviews and health and safety.

“But most importantly,” says Abshiro, “I learned I could stand on my own and make it in life. After four months in YEP, I was confident enough to start practicing journalism. My aim is to keep exposing stories around the world. I look forward to further studies but my dream is to work for CNN or BBC WORLD. There is always a chance for anyone who puts in the effort. Every youth should set goals and work hard to achieve their them.”
 

Regional Lessons Learned

19-year-old Abshiro Ibrahim lives in Dadaab, but she plans to travel the world as a journalist

 
Achieving Sustainable Results for Children in Fragile Settings in the ESA Region

In April 2015, UNICEF’s ESARO held a three-day technical review of its pilot PBEA Programme to identify lessons learnt on ‘fit-for-context programming’ in fragile and conflict-affected settings. Attended by 22 specialists from Ethiopia, South Su-dan, Somalia, Uganda, Burundi and Kenya, ESARO and staff from HQ, the review involved country teams presenting pro-gramming examples, informed by conflict analyses and clear Theories of Change, that work on factors of fragility and con-flict.

Country teams demonstrated that interventions can be designed to address: (1) conflict drivers from a peacebuilding and developmental perspective (2) the legacies of conflict such as trauma and violence against children and (3) the protection of children during periods of conflict. The review demonstrated that conflict-sensitivity and peacebuilding support the achievement of regional development priorities and encompasses a spectrum of education programmes including: quality, out-of-school children, girl’s education, equity and inclusion, early childhood development, life skills, teacher training, cur-riculum development and livelihood training.

The review highlighted results achieved with the reduction of violence in schools, strengthened conflict resolution skills and improved social cohesion among communities, improved equity, increased school safety, children’s security and access to inclusive ‘conflict sensitive education’. These have all contributed to increased school retention and improved learning out-comes. In South Sudan, where UNICEF works with the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), the introduction of Life Skills Education has led to increased tolerance and respect for diversity. Youth engagement has mitigated new forms of violence among conflict-affected communities. In Uganda, UNICEF is engaging with ECD centres, encouraging previously divided communities to come together, build bonds of trust and improve communication – all building resilience against conflict.

In Somalia, community outreach via ‘Schools as Zones of Peace’ has supported local communities to identify and resolve issues (that normally give rise to clan-based conflicts) and to strengthen protective environments for children in school. In Burundi and Kenya, applying ‘Child Friendly Schooling Standards’ has made learning environments more inclusive and fos-tered community participation in school management, meaning, schools remain protected spaces for children. In Ethiopia, inequities are being addressed through Education Sector Planning: boosting culturally relevant education for minority eth-nic groups and pastoral communities in some of the most fragile and risk-prone regions. Finally, the review showed that Child Protection interventions have strengthened the capacity of duty-bearers to respond to - and prevent - violence against children, e.g. in Uganda where violence is both a legacy of civil war and a driver of new forms of societal violence.

However, to ensure broader programming is ‘fit for context’ in fragile settings, UNICEF needs to further mainstream conflict sensitivity and peacebuilding to education portfolios at country, regional and global levels. ‘Conflict sensitivity’ and ‘peacebuilding’ should not be compartmentalized into Humanitarian Action or Education in Emergency. Instead, they should inform all of UNICEF’s developmental interventions in fragile settings to address pressures leading to conflict and mitigating the impacts when conflicts do occur.
 

The ‘School for Peace’ in South Sudan

19-year-old Abshiro Ibrahim lives in Dadaab, but she plans to travel the world as a journalist

 
Schools as Zones of Peace – A Reality in Ananatak, South Sudan

After nine years of conflict between the Akok and Luangkoth Tribes, their Chiefs help create one school as a Zone of Peace

Tonj East is the most remote and least developed County in Warrap State, South Sudan. Access to, and use of, wa-ter from boreholes as well as land grabbing were key causes of prolonged conflict between the Akok and Luackoth tribes.

Although conflict resolution and peacebuilding processes were initiated several times in the past, there had been little success; conflict has been constant and has negatively affected the lives of men, women and children from both tribes. “There were many lives lost from both tribes,” says Mr. Marko Macop, Chief of the Akok Tribe, speak-ing alongside the Chief of the Luackoth Tribe, Mr Maper Mariar.

Then, in July 2014, each Chief agreed to attend community peace dialogues held for his own tribe members, supported by UNICEF and the local government. The key aim was to help participants recognize the devastating impact of the protracted conflict and to facilitate a locally driven process of reconciliation and peacebuilding. Each Chief and the elders of their tribes identified numerous impacts of the conflict: the loss of numerous lives; the destruction of homes; displacement; unemployment; poverty and widespread trauma. Additionally, women were at greater risk of violence, while school-age children had largely been deprived of education over the past nine years.

The peace dialogues helped each tribe become empathetic toward their rivals and recognise that all had been similarly impacted. Both Chiefs and their com-munity elders then attended a joint intertribal peace dialogue, designed to be conflict-sensitive. They went into it knowing the dialogue would require pa-tience, empathy and tolerance, and indeed, were consensual on the need for peace. At the meeting, held in Romich, Tonj East, they looked at the causes and triggers of their conflicts and context-appropriate ways of addressing them. Above all, they ultimately agreed to establish a school for the children of both tribes at Ananatak, the border area that demarcates their tribal lands, and to call it a ‘School for Peace’, where children and community come together.

UNICEF trained the teachers and community members to help ensure that at this Temporary Learning Space (TLS) they adhere to the guiding principles for establishing and maintaining a ‘Zone of Peace’: the teachers are now teaching life-skills and peacebuilding using different modalities for classroom interac-tion, sports and student supported activities to 68 students, including 23 girls. The curriculum was developed by the Government with support from UNICEF and its partners. Peace Clubs for adolescents and youth have also been established to reinforce what is being taught in the classrooms and to provide a fo-rum for constructive interaction and dialogue. Since the initiative began both Chiefs agree they have witnessed a positive change in lives of children and ad-olescents, whom they feel are learning to live together. Meanwhile, the Chiefs and the newly established PTA are working together to find support for con-structing boreholes, latrines and a permanent school structure. The whole extended community is heavily involved, also ensuring that routes to and from school are safe for students. The Chiefs of the two tribes believe this growing ‘culture of peace’ - so long at it is nurtured and supported - will prevail!

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