Theme: COVID 19 and peacebuilding

PCi’s partner People in Need (PiN) announces a small grants scheme for communities in Serbia and Kosovo

PCI’s partner in the project Amplifying local voices for equitable development has announced a small grants scheme to support local-level, community-based initiatives that help deal with the impact of Covid-19 on local communities, whilst cutting across ethnic divisions.

Full details of the grants scheme can be found at the following links:

People in Need Kosovo website
People in Need Serbia website
People in Need Kosovo Facebook page
People in Need Serbia Facebook page

The final deadline for applications is 31 January 2021.

Libya: Six Social Peace Partnerships support the COVID-19 response

During March 2020, Social Peace Partnerships (SPPs) in Libya engaged in the COVID-19 response. SPPs bring local community members together including representatives from the local municipality, civil society, community leaders and local residents. SPPs build skills to facilitate dialogue and community mediation, while simultaneously developing local action plans that identify the development needs and aspirations of local residents. SPP activities related to the COVID-19 response include:

Ajdabiya SPP developed plans to roll out a COVID-19 awareness campaign in urban areas.

Benghazi SPP set up an Emergency Response Committee to provide accurate COVID-19 information to Benghazi citizens and to support the municipality, as well as carrying out public awareness activities.

Souq al Juma SPP joined the Emergency Response Committee and participated in the National Centre for Disease Control training to raise awareness around COVID-19.

Tobruk SPP collaborated with civil society organisations such as the Red Crescent Society and the Boy Scout movement to implement COVID-19 public awareness activities.

Waddan SPP provided support to local awareness-raising efforts on COVID-19.

Zilten SPP joined the local Crisis Committee.

Libya: PCi’s snapshot on COVID-19 response

PCi conducted a Rapid Assessment in 14 communities to gain insight into the COVID-19 response, implemented through the Social Peace Partnerships, with three individuals from each Partnership interviewed over the phone (March 2020) in the context of the government working-from-home order.

The findings include the most common source of information on COVID-19 across the 14 communities is social media (Facebook), with half of the communities indicating they use social media (Facebook) for information as opposed to official sources.

Municipalities are demonstrating varying degrees of engagement in a COVID-19 response, with responsive municipalities establishing an emergency crisis committee, collaborating with relevant agencies (for example, health), and mobilising local awareness campaigns. However, some municipalities appear to be largely absent from any COVID-19 prevention, management and/or response planning.

Local civil society organisations (CSOs) are implementing awareness activities in some municipalities. However, a lack of resources will make it hard for CSOs to scale up their response. PCi’s Social Peace Partnerships are engaged in a response in six municipalities.

Understanding divisive narratives in Serbia and Kosovo

Peaceful Change initiative is pleased to present research undertaken by Ipsos in order to understand how divisive narratives are generated and disseminated in mainstream media in Serbia and Kosovo. The research is available here: Understanding divisive narratives qualitative research – online focus groups

The findings and recommendations of this research Understanding divisive narratives – media analysis will be used to guide a number of Media Consultation Dialogues (MCD), which will engage media professionals from a variety of backgrounds in order to discuss ways and means of ensuring that divisive narratives become less prominent in mainstream discourse.

This research has been commissioned in the framework of a two and a half year project ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development’; funded from the UK Government’s Conflict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF).

PCi supports civic responses in Kosovo to support the mitigation of COVID-19

In Kosovo, the measures taken by governing authorities to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 has mirrored other governments across Europe. However, ensuring such measures don’t negatively impact Kosovo’s non-majority communities has further tested the government’s capacity.

Peaceful Change initiative’s project ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development’ (supported by the UK Government’s Conflict, Security and Stability Fund) has worked through their partner NGO Aktiv, working in Kosovo and Serbia, to establish a Rapid Civic Response Group.

The Group is made up of  22 civil and community activists from across Kosovo representing the Serbian, Albanian, and Gorani communities. It is creating vital channels for the real-time flow of information, thereby facilitating the identification of problems which may otherwise have remained ignored. They include:

  • Poor information dissemination in non-majority languages
  • Poor and/or lack of translation in non-majority languages
  • An increase in security incidents in Serbian communities
  • Challenges accessing economic-aid
  • Inadequate and/or lack of institutional response

Aktiv and the Rapid Civic Response Group have taken steps to lobby the Kosovo government and other relevant actors for urgent steps to address these problems. Their approach includes:

  1. Request to improve communication with non-majority communities addressed to the Government of Kosovo
  2. Op-ed calling for better cooperation between Belgrade and Pristina
  3. Press release on translation challenges, highlighting non-compliance with the Law on the Use of Languages
  4. Open letter to the Ministry of Health and the Ombudsperson regarding the problems faced in accessing institutions
  5. Publication on Covid-19 institutional challenges and proposed solutions
  6. Public statements requesting the broadcasting of RTV MIR and to address non-majority communities’ security concerns.
  7. Public statement on non-majority community challenges accessing the Pandemic Economic Aid package and on the lack of translation to non-majority community languages
  8. Infographics on ‘COVID19 Crisis – Active Citizens Response’and ‘Rapid Response Civic Group – Incidents
  9. A video-cast informing greater audiences on the findings of the RRCG through social media

PCi supports isolated communities in Georgia, Abkhazia to mitigate COVID-19 impact

COVID-19 is highlighting vulnerabilities among marginalised communities around the world.  In Georgia, Abkhazia remote communities, situated far away from urban centres have learned to cope with their isolation, even though they face additional challenges when situated adjacent to conflict-affected areas. The introduction of measures to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 have stretched livelihoods and coping mechanisms to breaking point. For example, travel restrictions have led to a shortage of essential goods and the lack of water supply has made it difficult to maintain good hand hygiene; in addition, the distance from decision making is challenging the effectiveness of public health mechanisms. Peaceful Change initiative and their partners have been supporting schools in isolated communities in this region to deal with these challenges, filling gaps in COVID-preparedness and supporting local groups to organise and meet the challenges of the pandemic.

Conflict sensitivity considerations relating to the COVID-19 response in Libya

PCi produced a brief note on potential conflict sensitivity considerations relating to the COVID-19 response in Libya, developed as part of the Conflict Sensitive Assistance (CSA) in Libya forum. The note is intended as a resource to support assistance planners and project staff in taking conflict sensitivity implications into account when preparing to respond to COVID-19.

Download the report here

Kosovo-Serbia: Addressing COVID-19 – allowing local voices to be heard

PCi works to amplify local voices, especially those of marginalised groups, in support of equitable development. We worked with our partners Aktiv, Civic Initiatives and Peer Educators Network to ensure non-majority communities in Serbia and Kosovo are better aware of – and able to advocate for – municipal services to which they are entitled.

In response to COVID-19, PCi worked with Aktiv to create a ‘Rapid Response Crisis Group’ (RRCG) to ensure that non-majority communities in Kosovo were receiving equitable access to information that sought to prevent and mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

In this first of the video stories which will be produced by all three partners, Aktiv sheds more light on the efforts of the RRCG to ensure equitable access to information. Click here for the film with English subtitles

PCi urges all humanitarian and development practitioners to implement a conflict-sensitive approach when delivering assistance in response to COVID-19

PCi is mentioned in an article by Nate Wilson, ‘Coronavirus Shows Why Libya Needs to Build its Institutions’, published on 14 April 2020 for the United States Institute for Peace (USIP). The article highlights that institutional support to improve the Libya COVID-19 response must take into account conflict dynamics at a regional, sub-regional and even community level. USIP advocates for organisations working in Libya to use their analysis, as well as analysis from PCi, Mercy Corps, Danish Refugee Council and others, “to inform their decisions, then they can use aid to connect groups in conflict, ensure that it is inclusive, and thereby maximize benefits. This will surely benefit Libya beyond the immediate crisis.”

PCi urges “those with the ability to stop the suffering” in conflict-affected areas to take action now and ensure unimpeded and sustained access for organisations delivering aid and medical supplies in response to COVID-19.

Click to read PCi’s report on the interaction between Covid-19 and conflict dynamics in Libya

PCi provides conflict sensitivity advice to embassies, donor agencies, UN agencies, international NGOs and research organisations. PCi is currently the Coordinator of the Conflict Sensitivity Community Hub (until September 2020).

Improving access to mental health information in Kosovo

PCi are working with partners, among others, to ensure non-majority communities in Serbia and Kosovo have better access to information on COVID-19. The goal of the ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development – ALVED’ project is to strengthen the capacity of citizens in Kosovo and Serbia to advocate for an effective and equitable distribution of public services and for a greater inclusion of non-majority communities in local decision making.

The project is funded by the Conflict, Stability and Security Fund of the United Kingdom (CSSF) and implemented by a network of five organisations, including our partner Peer Educators Network (PEN) from Kosovo, who actively work to bring social change through community work led by youth. With their first video-cast published as part of ALVED, PEN is providing information about the effects of the pandemic on mental health, as well as some advice on how to cope with this situation. The video is available in English, Albanian and Serbian language, and was shared across social media by a network of organisations working with diverse groups in Kosovo, including non-majority communities.