Theme: Social peace and local development

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.

PCi’s partner NGO Aktiv advocating for Language Rights in Kosovo

As part of the ‘Amplifying Local Voices for Equitable Development – ALVED’ project, PCi’s partner organisation Aktiv produced a video-cast that discusses language rights in Kosovo. The video-cast analyses how the pandemic crisis has shed light on weak institutions unable to provide a timely translation of information into Serbian at key moments, leaving members of the Serb and other non-majority communities in Kosovo at a disadvantage. The video is available in Serbian, Albanian and English language.

Ikram’s Journey with the Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership: Developing Skills that Benefit the Community

Ikram Mohamed Abdullah is the Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership Public Relations Officer; she is a dynamic young woman who graduated from Ajdabiya University with a background in business and IT. She was invited to join the Ajdabiya Social Peace Partnership by the Head of the Partnership, who was impressed with her work in the community. The skills she has acquired through membership of the Social Peace Partnership have helped her both in conducting social peace initiatives and in her professional life.

Through the Social Peace Partnership, Ikram attended trainings on conflict analysis and conflict mitigation, strengthening her peacebuilding knowledge. She also participated in project management training, acquiring new skills in strategic planning and specifically SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) which have helped her to fundraise for her University. Ikram said:

“Ajdabiya University relied on the national government for funding (because it is a public institution) but unfortunately funding was cut because of the political crisis; this occurred at a time when student exams were about to start. When I met with people from the University, we discussed how we might use SWOT analysis to advocate for more funds and using this tool, we were able to mobilise networks, which resulted in private companies donating resources so that the exams went ahead.”

Ikram is proud of the social peace initiative to renovate the Ajdabiya General Hospital. The Social Peace Partnership produced a list of eight potential projects, that were announced on local radio. Residents were asked to vote for their favourite project with 80 per cent going towards the hospital renovations (involving 10 bathrooms, the construction of a separate entrance for Accident and Emergency and the construction of a women’s area to improve safety and privacy). The project was completed to a high standard, in three weeks, with over thirty volunteers helping out on specific tasks, including painting and plumbing – and within the budget of 40,000 LYD.

Ikram has also played a key role in the Social Peace Partnership efforts to strengthen livelihood opportunities for the most vulnerable community members in Ajdabiya. To date, over 200 people, including many women and youth, have been provided with vocational skills.  Ikram continues:

“Our sewing training project stands out to me, supporting women to earn an income. Selma, was a widow with five children who was struggling to make ends meet. She got a job as a cleaner with the Social Peace Partnership because her widow’s pension no longer covered her basic costs (due to inflation) and she fell into depression. Selma was invited to participate in the sewing workshop. She was very motivated and soon became the top student in the class. We gave her a sewing machine to take home so that she could start producing garments. She now works with a number of stores and supplies them with tailored pieces; she is slowly lifting herself and her family out of economic hardship.”

Unemployed women benefit from vocational skills training such as embroidery and knitting

Ikram’s work with the Social Peace Partnership and civil society more broadly has made her even more determined to pursue ambitious projects.

 “I want to make an impact and feel that I have achieved something important in my community. My work within the Social Peace Partnership has shown me that these projects matter to our society.”

She is particularly committed to continuing to support women in her community, so that they can play a more meaningful role and develop their potential.

“While women still face discrimination in our society, I believe that there is no obstacle too large that can prevent them from achieving their goals. We have the opportunity to take on positions as policymakers, to create real change.”

Strengthening Youth Civil Society Networks through the ‘Bader’ Campaign in Libya

In February 2021, a national campaign was launched to raise the profile of young peace leaders through the ‘Bader’ social media Facebook campaign (‘Bader’ means ‘initiate’ in Arabic).

The campaign gathered and disseminated stories of youth leadership in peacebuilding and civil society projects – and called on young Libyans to submit their ideas for projects that promoted social peace, community cohesion, gender equality and social inclusion. The campaign received over 15,000 likes from people spanning over 30 cities in Libya; this popularity led to over 500 story submissions in the space of one month. 

Salem Ibrahim was one of three prize-winners. He is a civil society activist from Benghazi who works at the Civil Society Commission. He is committed to supporting young people to start up and manage their own organisations, creating civil society support networks. He recently launched an online platform called ‘Impact’, which helps people launch their own community projects. Salem also focuses on supporting civil society actors to advocate amongst government decision-makers and raise awareness about the importance of a legal framework to protect civil society in the country.

Salem’s aspiration was to organise a series of training sessions that sensitise Libyan decision-makers/politicians about challenges/obstacles that civil society in Libya faces, including restrictions on their activity. The training sessions would include information on international principles of civil society protection, the role of civil society in dialogue and national reconciliation, and the value of establishing and managing peace-building networks.

To watch Salem’s story, click on the video below.

Amplifying the Voices of Young Activists in Libya

The ‘Bader’ campaign was launched on Facebook on 17 February 2021, on the 10-year anniversary of the Libyan uprising. The campaign provided a platform for young leaders from different communities in Libya to talk about their experiences of promoting peace, social cohesion, and women’s inclusion. By amplifying the voices of young peace activists, Bader sought to inspire others to take action. Within a month of its launch, the Bader Facebook page had received 15 thousand likes and over 500 stories had been submitted by young activists across Libya. Through the campaign, 3 young leaders were selected to receive grants of up to 20,000 LYD to implement their projects. One of these young leaders is Mona.


Mona is a 29-year-old media activist from Sebha with a degree in Radio and Television Media. She has launched an online radio station called ‘Voice of Peace’ to promote social cohesion in the south of Libya. The radio station broadcasts in the three languages spoken by Sebha’s different community groups, Arabic, Tebu and Targi, to promote inclusion and mutual understanding. The radio station will host young people from these community groups to spread positive messages of peaceful coexistence. Mona was fundraising to purchase the necessary transmission and studio equipment that will allow her team to develop the project and move from internet to radio broadcasting, so that they can reach more people in Sebha and the Fezzan region.

To watch Mona’s story, click here.

ILO launches new guide to promote social cohesion and peaceful coexistence in fragile contexts

PCi’s trustee Joan McGregor and Senior Peacebuilding Advisor Raj Bhari have been working with ILO to produce a new guide:  Promoting Social Cohesion and Peaceful Coexistence in Fragile Contexts through Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET). 

The guide is now available to download here: Promoting Social Cohesion and Peaceful Coexistence in Fragile Contexts through TVET.

The guide is aimed at TVET practitioners to consolidate their role as active promoters of social cohesion and peaceful co-existence.

The guide seeks to strengthen the role of skills development policies and programmes in peacebuilding efforts through inclusive learning methodologies and training in relevant core skills. 

It also provides practical guidance on how to adapt training, to mixed community groups, embed conflict resolution skills, cooperation, and other relevant core skills into training curricula, and create conflict sensitive, inclusive, and diverse learning environments for all.

The guide will be launched at a Webinar on International Day of Living Together in Peace on May 17 2021 at 2pm UK time. To participate in the Webinar, please click on the following link:  https://ilo-org.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jr1K9WatS4yB2qDJRILlpg

Social Media youth campaign to strengthen the role of young Libyans in peacebuilding

Peaceful Change initiative, through the Social Peace and Local Development Programme has launched ‘Bader’, a social media youth campaign to strengthen the role of young Libyans as peace actors. Through amplifying the voices and experiences of young peacebuilders and civil society activists, Bader aims to inspire young people to take action and engage in peace, social cohesion, gender equality and social inclusion initiatives in their own communities.

The campaign will use social media to connect young peace leaders from across the country and facilitate knowledge and learning exchanges. This will support the strengthening of existing youth networks, as well as building new relationships among peace leaders with diverse experiences and backgrounds, challenging divisive narratives through meaningful interactions around peace and youth issues. The young leaders are being encouraged to tell their peace initiative stories and through the campaign, three of the participants will be awarded a grant to fund a new initiative. Please visit  https://www.facebook.com/bader.libya.pci

Libya: Suq Aljuma Social Peace Partnership supports accessible and inclusive education for children with disabilities

As conflict and displacement continue to affect communities in Libya, further exacerbated by the spread of COVID-19, the most vulnerable groups increasingly struggle to access critical services.

Children with disabilities in Libya are often excluded from education, primarily because of the lack of support and resources available from state institutions, further reinforced by widespread social stigma around disabilities. Caring for children with disabilities at home becomes a heavy burden on families and especially women, who are usually responsible for household and care work.

The Suq Aljuma Social Peace Partnership supported the establishment of the Rashad Centre for Children with Special Needs and worked to collaborate with the Suq Aljuma Municipality, the Educational Control Office and Children’s Rights/Education activists to establish the first public education centre dedicated to children with disabilities.

A Suq Aljuma Social Peace Partnership member explained: “This project was based on an assessment of local needs in the municipality. The Local Education Office found that there were a high percentage of children with disabilities living in the area and they wanted to support these children as well.”

The community and local institutions came together and this cooperation led to the Educational Control Office providing some building space and staff. The Suq Aljuma Social Peace Partnership and the Suq Aljuma Municipality provided grants which led to the renovation of four classrooms and a Montessori learning room, equipped with furniture and other items. A curriculum was designed that included speech and occupational therapy. One of the Social Peace Partnership member’s said: “The parents are very happy. Many of them could not afford the cost of private schools and they are incredibly supportive of the Rashad Centre and the work that is being done here.”

The Head of the Rashad Centre highlighted that the children’s response to the training programme was very positive. The parents had also noticed the learning experience was benefitting their children and there was an improvement in their behaviour.

The Rashad Centre closed temporarily due to COVID-19, like other schools in Libya. However, the management is using this time productively and providing teachers with extra training so they are well prepared for when it reopens.  The Head of the Rashad Centre, explained:  “We cannot take any chances even if other schools reopen, as many of our students are immunocompromised. We have been trying to provide support and encouragement remotely, but some of the activities require the presence of our specialist teachers. Meanwhile, we are working with an expert in autism to help us design educational entertainment exercises that the parents can perform with the children at home. The school has become a lifeline for many families and its closure has really impacted them. We hope that we will be able to reopen as soon as it is safe to do so.”

Members of a Social Peace Partnership include senior representatives from the local authority and leaders from civil society, community/elders, business, individuals/groups responsible for providing security, local radio, social media influencers and local residents. One of the functions of a Social Peace Partnership is to engage with different community groups, helping to bolster relationships and strengthen the social fabric of the community. 

For more on Social Peace Partnerships in Libya click here

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.