Preventing violence and recruitment to extremist groups in Northern Nigeria - Learning Summary

Evaluation and Lessons Learned
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This learning summary highlights the main successes, challenges and lessons learned during a project implemented by our local partner Peace Initiative Network (PIN) to build community resilience to violence in Northern Nigeria. This summary is based on an evaluation conducted in January 2019 to assess the project’s impact, efficiency and sustainability from January to December 2018, with the view to PIN strengthening its implementation strategies.

To achieve its goal of strong, resilient communities who are willing and able to resolve disputes non‑violently, this project focused on supporting young men and women at risk of joining extremist groups to be better integrated within their communities. Their work also focused on building sustainable incomes, while increasing awareness of conflict resolution and citizenship at both the community and state level.

With the aim of reducing unemployment and idleness as an incentive for recruitment into violence, and with a view to engaging young people to be ambassadors for peace, PIN provided vocational training with leadership and conflict resolution skills. This training was given to young people from disadvantaged backgrounds in eight out of 44 of the local government areas across Kano state. Women were a focus of the project due to their important role in the community, and the project included a women-only programme.

Kano has historically been the epicentre of violent conflict and divisions between Christian and Muslim communities, and although this is not always the cause of conflict now, it is often used to explain violence, perpetuating the false narrative that Christians and Muslims cannot live together peacefully. As well as engaging young people to choose peace, the project focused on bridging divides between different ethnic and religious groups through football and Peace Clubs in schools. This has helped to disprove the common perception of irreconcilability between these groups, and shift the narrative towards hope for a peaceful future based on positive relationships.

To achieve these objectives, the clubs provided enabled dialogue and the development of critical-thinking skills, leading to the evolution of friendships, and the formation of coalitions for peacebuilding and violence prevention, between different groups of young people aged 10-18. Meanwhile, quarterly ‘Town Hall Meetings’ regularly brought together the wider community for discussions about peacebuilding mechanisms and for the creation of joint strategies for community development.