The Rural Lens: Study Evaluates Best Practices for Executing Peacebuilding Projects in Diverse Settings

Summary of:

Haider, H. (2019). Engaging rural stakeholders in social cohesion, reconciliation, and peacebuilding projects. K4D Helpdesk Report. Brighton, UK: Institute of Development Studies.

Background & Theory

Efforts at peacebuilding in conflict-ridden environments take into account social inequalities, community values, and intergroup relations. In Iraq and many other regions, rural populations rank high on poverty indices and are marginalized from access to facilities and resources that are available to urban populations. However, there has not been enough research done on the best practices of community-level reconciliation in such regions. This study is one of the many first attempts at condensing the information available on this topic.

Research Question(s)

The author tried to answer the following question:

    1. How have social cohesion, reconciliation, and peacebuilding projects effectively engaged with rural stakeholders?

Methods

The author studied the existing literature on conflict reconciliation in Iraq and regions globally. They condensed the information available in several research papers to summarize the knowledge in a cohesive way.

Results

The researcher identified the following ways in which rural communities engage in peacebuilding processes:

Community-based participation and development- The local area development program (LADP) in Iraq works in Suleimanya, Babylon, and the Iraqi Marshlands as a collaboration between several UN agencies. This social development strategy aimed at reducing poverty sought to engage key stakeholders- localize the objectives of the national development plan; build the capacity of district and governorate authorities to lead participatory planning; and strengthen the capacity of civil society. The author also speaks of several programs in Afghanistan, Myanmar, Kyrgyz Republic, rural Sudan that led to a greater strengthening of community life and social cohesion.

Capacity development and leadership strengthening- The author talks about Zimbabwean rural communities, societies in Colombia, and Liberia where people are content with the efforts of traditional leaders who have led successful interventions in conflict resolution. 

Peace education- Drawing from the experience of a successful peace program in rural Colombia, the author laid emphasis on the importance of in-depth teacher training so that peace education can be disseminated smoothly. 

Gender equality promotion, Learning and social inclusion, Business for peace, Media-based interventions, Network Strengthening, and Peace communities were some of the other rural initiatives and recognized as important for successful reconciliation.

How This Translates for the Workplace

  • Conscious Business Models: Engaging in purposeful activities fuels the desire to build rather than destroy. Citing the example of “Footprints for Peace” in Colombia, the paper highlights how when people have a productive purpose that engages them and brings them livelihood, they are less likely to turn to violence, conflict, or destructive activities. A workplace is an environment that does exactly that- engages its employees for a sense of purpose and livelihood. To enhance this potential, managers can host regular introspection exercises for their teams where employees are encouraged to reflect on their purpose at the workplace. This will give them additional motivation, strength, and resilience to resolve conflicts, and cooperate to maintain drive towards their goals.
  • The Importance of Peace Training and Education: Capacity development and leadership strengthening is one of the first tools mentioned in this paper. Just as rural communities benefit significantly from peace training, so do workplaces. Acting from a place of awareness and having tools to deal with disagreements is an underestimated tool that contributes to success in the workplace. We at PPS offer training for workplaces in diversity, inclusion, as well as conflict resolution.
  • Investing in Executive Coaching: Being in a leadership position at a corporate company is not an easy job. It requires one to be wise, sensitive, prompt at decision making, good at taking responsibility, and embody many such important skills. Conflict resolution is smoother if organizational leaders are empathetic and take responsibility for their team’s actions and output. Just how tribal leaders play an effective role in the resolution in village reconciliation, in companies, the CEO and managers play a key role in helping employees resolve conflict. Therefore, investing in tools for being good leaders is a must- executive coaching can be one of them.