The West Africa Network for Peacebuilding (WANEP) is a sub-regional civil society organization (CSO) based in Bamako, Mali. WANEP’s mission is to enable and facilitate cooperation between communities and civil society organizations to promote peacebuilding in West Africa. WANEP implemented a one-month activity focused on building the capacity of its staff to incorporate P/CVE programming into its civic education curricula.
Under a grant through FHI 360’s Countering Violent Extremism in the Middle East and North Africa (CoVE-MENA) project, WANEP organized CVE workshops in Mopti and Fatoma in April 2017 with CSOs, government actors, and other stakeholders. The goal was to introduce CVE concepts to community members to raise their awareness and encourage them to conduct outreach and raise awareness within their local communities, including nomadic herding groups. WANEP’s lessons from the workshops included the need to strengthen community cohesion and trust, improve relations between civil society and security forces, and promote youth civic engagement. These findings informed the follow-up activities under a second grant from CoVE-MENA. In June 2019, seven WANEP technical staff traveled to Tunisia for a professional exchange with UTIL and JSF (Tunisian CSOs working with youth on civic education) during which representatives from all three CSOs shared their experience in using civic education as a mechanism to fight violent extremism. The Tunisian P/CVE expert who facilitated the workshop primarily used UTIL’s civic education manual to address improving youth resilience to violent extremism, but he also presented different models and methodologies for comparison.
This activity enabled WANEP to learn how to:
- Engage in a peer-to-peer learning exchange in a neighboring country and improve the knowledge and technical capacity of staff from all three CSOs to implement P/CVE activities.
- Construct shared understanding of concepts and youth-centered P/CVE approaches among CSO representatives from Mali and Tunisia.
- Study and adapt civic education training manuals and build on existing versions from UTIL to avoid duplication of effort. JSF and UTIL also learned about different mechanisms for P/CVE (such as early warning systems) applied by WANEP in its P/CVE programming in Mali.
- Jointly plan and co-create with other stakeholders and CSOs to implement P/CVE activities.
Key lessons and best practices applied by WANEP include:
- By engaging a diverse range of stakeholders in its initial activities, WANEP identified potential points of entry, needs, and challenges/risks to designing and implementing P/CVE programs.
- By adopting a Positive Youth Development (PYD) approach to design and implement activities, WANEP sought to increase youth engagement and resilience to VE through civic education programs.
- By building on the existing knowledge and expertise of staff and partners, they developed a tool to be shared and potentially used throughout the regional CSO network.