Peacebuilding Manual/Challenges in Peacebuilding

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Challenges in Peacebuilding in Post-Conflict Countries

Organisations and community-based groups that implement activities/projects/initiatives aimed at achieving peace and development, especially amongst rural communities, face a number of challenges in bringing people on board new ways of resolving conflicts, building peace, furthering development, enhancing capacities, strengthening livelihoods. Some of these challenges are shared below:

Community readiness to new approaches. One of the major challenges in peacebuilding is the resistance of local communities to new approaches to peacebuilding, especially those that question traditional methods and demonstrate success through new perspectives and methodologies

Intangible results. It is difficult to measure or demonstrate the results of community peacebuilding, given that the focus is on building social and not material capital, and it is often difficult to measure the disputes or conflicts that are prevented. However, over time, greater security and lower levels of violence should be achieved, and research on past levels of insecurity would allow comparative analysis. Through appropriate evaluations, donors can be made aware of the project success stories and apprised of the most significant changes.

Gender. There are considerable challenges in incorporating women into peacebuilding programmes and ensuring that peacebuilding includes prevention of domestic violence. This is not only due to male dominance in Afghan community institutions but also the fact that often programmes envisage building the capacities of existing community institutions, rather than attempting to establish another layer of institutions. However, many NGO programmes manage successfully to promote the involvement of women in peacebuilding and their best practices could be replicated. OHW experience reveals that peacebuilding programmes result in improved attitudes towards women, fewer abuses against women, and reduced domestic violence. When such programmes are combined with capacity building in gender sensitivity for existing shuras and in alternative approaches, opportunities for women’s involvement in peacebuilding could expand.

Government involvement. In order to ensure the participation of the broadest possible spectrum of individuals in peacebuilding, it is important for a peacebuilding programme to have wide ownership, rather than being simply considered a government programme. A number of existing community peacebuilding in Afghanistan is undertaken by a range of actors in conjunction with civil society, community-based groups and local authorities.

Spoilers. It is possible that influential individuals, such as warlords, commanders, or politicians perceive peacebuilding as a threat to their positions, and try to impede or influence work in this sector.

Diversity. Afghanistan’s geographical diversity, and the wide range of conflict types, implies that the most effective type of peacebuilding will vary according to local circumstances and dynamics amongst ethnic communities.

Lack of capable human resources. There is a lack of competent individuals/implementing partners with experience of peacebuilding and a general lack of qualified and reliable human resources. Further, there is a lack of trained human resources in peacebuilding and conflict resolution, especially for conducting the training in rural communities.

Security, coverage, and effectiveness. High levels of insecurity greatly limit the extent to which peacebuilding programmes are implemented in Afghanistan. However, OHW is implementing peacebuilding programmes in relatively in insecure areas of Afghanistan, demonstrating that this could be accomplished on an incremental basis through established techniques such as using local partner organisations, engaging with community and tribal leaders, and demonstrating the value of peacebuilding by implementing the programme in areas adjacent to insecure areas.

Weather and access. In Afghanistan, access to remote areas absorbs time and resources; and weather conditions prevent work in rural areas during winter. These constraints apply to the majority of Afghan development programmes but sufficient donor fund support could help widen and improve their impact, such as for reliable transportation to remote areas.