Preventing conflicts through improved local governance
After the June 2010 tensions in Southern Kyrgyzstan, ACTED started socio-economic mapping in order to better analyze the sources of tensions and conflicts. In addition to government statistical data, the REACH early warning tool contains original research by ACTED at the village-level, designed to explore the sources of conflict in the rural setting. Offline versions of REACH are available in Kyrgyz, Russian and Uzbek languages to support local government actors with access to statistical information for improved budgeting, planning and policy making processes.
ACTED has been working on expanding the accessibility of the REACH socio-economic mapping platform as a planning tool for local government districts, with support from the United States Institute of Peace.
Representatives of the local authorities, local councils and local communities across 36 municipalities have been trained on better local governance and the REACH early warning mapping tool. Cholponbek, head of the Lenina municipality in southern Jalal-Abad region, was one of the most active participants during these trainings: “This was an intensive four-day training for us to learn how to overcome problems we face currently, such as lack of strategic planning, budget hearing practices, transparency and accountability,” he said. Participants learned key themes about good governance, but also how to utilize the REACH mapping tool to identify existing or potential tensions, and how to write proposals to respond to these needs.
Identifying community needs to mitigate conflict potential and promote peace building
An exciting part of the trainings was certainly on the use of REACH. Cholponbek said “It was very interesting to explore and compare socio-economic indicators and information on tensions with what we know contextually and make further analysis”. Local authorities and community members were identifying community issues and developing project proposals as part of the trainings. Cholponbek also prioritized certain issues for his municipality and subsequently developed three initiatives: opening a village culture house to allow a multi ethnic tolerant space for youth, building an electricity power line to the new settlement areas surrounding the village, and rehabilitating the culture club for the local women’s NGO “Aruuzat”.
Now, Cholponbek will start searching for funding opportunities to implement these initiatives and will surely consider such analysis and planning before drafting the budget for the next year. Project beneficiaries also received USB flash drives containing the REACH Offline Mapping Tool and REACH maps to further utilize them during their work.
Peace building and local governance
Finally, a National Forum was organised on key findings of mapping exercise and best management practices on the role of local government in conflict mitigation. This event brought together local and international organisations, policy-makers and interested stakeholders. Cholponbek also presented his three project ideas at this Forum, saying that “the impact of this project can already be seen in the fact that authorities, civil society and community members are ready to work together to respond to conflict potential through better governing processes”.