2016 Training of Peace Volunteers

The Civil Peace Service (CPS) Unit of COMINSUD hosted 26 volunteers from five different communities of Mezam Division for a training workshop on “Peace Work and Conflict Analysis”.
First part in this training was clarify and define key words that are very often used but not well reflected on like peace, violence, and conflict.
Angwafo Peter suppored the trainng as a ressource person, presenting the Mankon peace approach

Angwafo Peter from the Mankon Palace supported the trainng as a resource person, presenting the Mankon peace approach

Second part was to analyze conflict examples within the participants communities. Therefore we used tools like the conflict history and actors mapping, the onion model, and the ABC triangle. Based on this analysis participants could see the angles from which a conflict could be tackled.
Looking for entry point for the conflict between graziers and farmers in Wum

Looking for entry point for the conflict between graziers and farmers in Wum

 Most of the conflicts we have in the North West Region are about boundaries and natural resources. Since some participants came from two communites in conflict the workshop was also a good opportunity to see, how your neighbours look at the same issue.

Discussion with trainees from Bambalang

Maja discussing with trainees from Bambalang

At the end of the training, certificates were awarded to our new Peace Volunteers and we are looking forward to see their achievements in the next months.

Participant with facilitators Maja Mueller, Ambe Bruno and Fon Nsoh

Participant with facilitators Maja Mueller, Ambe Bruno and Fon Nsoh

 written by Bii Della and Maja Mueller

International day for disaster reduction

41 key stakeholders including:members of the Regional Committee on Risk management, Municipal Council Officials, Administrators, Media practitioners and  Civil Society activist who hold responsibility in civil protection and disaster management in the North West Region, have participated in a one day Reflection Workshop on Peace and Disaster Reduction in Mezam Division.
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Cross section of some participants

The workshop which took place at the Presbyterian Church Centre, Bamenda on Thursday 13th of October 2016 was organised by the North West Regional Committee on Risk Management in collaboration with Community Initiative for Sustainable Development (COMINSUD), and was presided at, by the Secretary General at the North West Governor’s Office and Focal Point for the North West Region in the National Observatory on risk Management.

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Secretary General at the Governors office and Coordinator of COMINSUD At the workshop

The Coordinator of COMINSUD- Mr.Fon Nsoh in His opening statement situated the theme of the workshop within the Civil Peace Service Initiative (CPS) wherein the culture of peace is perceived as a vital pre-requisite for human and community development in the North West Region and makes a link between reducing Inter tribal Conflict sand related disasters to promoting a Culture of Peace. The address also dwelled on the lack of sensitivity to disaster by many Councils and the need for creating a system of respond.
In situating the state of Disasters, Civil Protection and Disaster Management in the North West Region alongside the Roles and Functioning of the Regional Disaster Risk Management System,the Secretary General at the North West Governors office in his keynote address stressed on the need to reflect on disaster Reduction while encouraging municipal Councillors and mayors present to establish  Municipal Alert System.
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M.Ambe Bruno-workshop facilitator,presents different forms of disaster

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The workshop was articulated around panel discussions, presentations and exchanges of
experiences on; the state of Disasters, Civil Protection and Disaster Management in the North West Region,the Roles and Functioning of the Regional Disaster Risk Management System and its link with other actors, The role of actors (Red Cross, Army Rescue Unit, GIS) in disaster management,Recommendations and the Elaboration of a model Prototype of a Municipal Disaster Alert

At the end of he workshop the representatives from the North West Governor’s Office resolved to send out circulars to all councils instructing them to create functional Disaster Management Units at the Councils meanwhile mayors and representatives of councils in attendance made decisions to take responsibility for the creation of framework conditions that will bring villages/communities with intertribal conflicts to settle their differences in order to avoid disasters from violent conflicts.

 By Ngobesing Linda

Training on Communication and Mediation in conflicts

In June all the Peace Volunteers (PVs) that COMINSUD trained in 2015 were invited again for a 3-days exchange and training workshop.

Participants and facilitators of the training

Participants and facilitators of the training

What has been done during the past 12 months? What were the challenges and where did the PVs succeed very well? Those were some of the key questions during day one. Apart from phone calls to our office we could now hear all the stories at a great length.

For example in one village the PVs have opened a tomato farm. At the first sight that looks far from peace work, but in this farm previous enemies and sceptics are now united and continuous sensitization inside this group in ongoing.
In another village three PVs have trained more than 20 other local PVs for the different quarters of their area.
Apart from this, our PVs were involved in conflict resolution from household level up to inter-village level, as we can see in the Oku-Mbessa-Story.

To increase the capacities of the PVs they were given an insight into mediation. In group works or pairs they could learn techniques like “active listening” and the use of “grounding questions”. They were introduced to Schulz von Thun’s model of the “four sides of a message”, to the importance of body language and the phases of the mediation process.

Practicing emphatic listening and paraphrasing as a prerequisite for mediation

Practicing emphatic listening and paraphrasing as a prerequisite for mediation

Three participants practicing mediation with all the tools they have learned before.

Three participants practicing mediation with all the tools they have learned before.

The most exiting part was the practising of mediation, no matter whether in the role of one conflicting party or mediator or as observer with certain tasks – all were appreciating the role play very much and stated that they have learned a lot.

Participants in the "World Café" discussing implementation of training content

Participants in the “World Café” discussing implementation of training content

Presenting and discussing ideas from the "World Café"

Presenting and discussing ideas from the “World Café”

A commission set up to demarcate the boundary between Mbessa and Oku village

Governor Adolphe Lele Lafrique paid a visit to Mbessa on Thursday April 21st, 2016. He is the first Governor to visit Mbessa since the conflict started over 30 years ago. This visit had in attendance over 450 women and 100 men of Mbessa alongside the traditional and administrative authorities of Oku and Mbessa. They all assembled at the Mbessa Community Hall seeking for a lasting solution to the boundary dispute.

The Governor called upon the Regional Boundary Commission to delimit the boundary between the two villages following the August 28th 2008 Ministerial Decision. He said the conflict has caused untold human and material damage and it was time everyone abides to the peace process.

A local committee was put in place to carry out the demarcation process. Among the members are two peace volunteers, trained and accompanied by COMINSUD.

The Fons of Oku and Mbessa reiterated their passion for the need for a peaceful coexistence between the two villages as they shared the common position that “there is the need to think of Oku and Mbessa people as one person because they all have a common origin”.

The Governors’ visit came just a day after the Fon of Mbessa led a Delegation to Oku to discuss ways to end the conflict. The women of Mbessa at the end of the meeting remained optimistic as they look forward for a fair and just boundary demarcation process.

Public Demonstration by over 250 Women of Mbessa Village

February 16th 2016
Over 250 women aged between 25 to 70 years engaged in a public manifestation walk from Mbessa village in Belo Sub Division, Boyo Division in the North West Region (NWR) to Bamenda, the Regional Headquarters of the NWR (33 km). Their objective was to table a petition and their grievances to the Governor Adolphe Lele Lafrique. This is as a result of latent boundary conflict between Mbessa (Boyo Division) and Oku (Bui Division) which has been characterised by sporadic attacks by some persons from Oku on the Mbessa community members in their farms.

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The women left Mbessa at 4:00 am carrying each a stem of the peace plant and placards raising issues centred around the fact that Oku presently is the Sub Division of origin of Cameroon’s Prime Minister HE Yang Philemon and most people from Oku perpetrating these aggressions on Mbessa go unpunished…

The placards carried messages such as:

Why is the administration quiet on surprise attacks by Oku on Mbessa?

3 Mbessa killed in 1982, houses destroyed, hundreds rendered homeless, no punishment no compensation, why?

2007/2008 mass burning of houses, destruction of crops, thousands homeless – no punishment, no compensation!

No to recent attacks and torture by Oku in farmlands! No to the use of cutlasses on human beings!

No to recent attacks and torture by Oku in farmlands!
No to the use of cutlasses on human beings!

They arrived at Belo the Headquarter of the Sub Division at around 2 pm and made a stop at the Sub Divisional Office but the Divisional Officer Nicolas Manchang who doubles as the 2nd Assistant SDO for Boyo Division was not on seat (we learnt he was on permission). After about one hour of sitting accompanied with negotiations from the Mayor of Belo Council Tosam Bernard Nenghabi the lone official present at the scene, the women resolved to continue their journey to Bamenda where they hope to meet a listening ear.

The Mayor of Belo Council alongside the Mayor of Njinikom Council, the Member of Parliament Honorable Wainanchi Honorine and the Company Commander Boyo Commandant Passele struggled without success  to convince the women to give him the petition and go back to Mbessa. The Mayor of Belo then invited them to the Belo Grandstand for other negotiations. He was at this point in time joined by the Police Commissioner of Special Branch of Fundong Mr Bezigui. Both still failed. The Mayor invited them to sit for refreshment; they denied arguing that it is a way to waste their time and continued their journey.

The Interim Divisional Officer for Belo Sub Division came at about 6 pm when the Mbessa women had covered over 25 km and were at Mbingo but he could not even talk to the women as they were already saying it is some sort of negligence and lack of consideration from the local administration.

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However, the Mbessa women continued their journey over night. They reached Kejom Keku in Babanki in Tubah Sub division around 2 am and decided to rest before continuing later. It is at that time that the Governor of the NWR Adolphe Lele Lafrique moved to the site when it was exactly 2:10 am. He said he could not wait for them to come right to Bamenda and when he got the information, he immediately took off to meet them on the way.

The governor collected the messages and the petition they had and ordered for vehicles to carry them back to Mbessa while promising to channel the issue to the hierarchy for prompt solution. The women in turn, thanked him and insisted that if within a week nothing is done they will still treck again to Bamenda.

COMINSUD has trained Peace Volunteers (PVs) from Mbessa and Oku in July 1015. This peaceful and very powerful action can be considered as an outcome of this training and the tireless efforts of the five Mbessa PVs to change peoples minds towards non-violent solutions of conflicts and peaceful civic activities.

Mayors in 5 Municipalities of the North West Region raised Voices for Peace and better education facilities

The Mayors of Bali, Belo, Ndop, Oku and Balikumbat hosted 5 Municipal Round Table Discussions that brought together councilors, educational, religious, traditional and civil society representatives. They should reflect on the relevance of the theme of the 2015 “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign” and take action for improvement on the ground. The theme “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All” is very relevant to these municipalities because over 10 communities within these municipalities had witnessed in the recent past some of the worse forms of violent inter tribal/ethnic conflicts that resulted in loss of human lives, destruction of home, livelihood systems, educational materials and facilities.

The North West Region comparatively and proportionately benefits least from the national budget and development initiatives, is amongst the four poorest regions of the Country. However, its strong self-reliant and community development spirit is the driving force for the level of development it enjoys. Unfortunately a long history of tribal and ethic conflicts erodes these achievements of their many years of struggles.

It is against this background and the opportunity offered by the 16 day of activism campaign that the Community Initiative for Sustainable Development (COMINSUD) collaborating with the Justice and Peace Commission of the Bamenda archdiocese (members of the Cameroon Civil Peace Service Network) decided to focus on these 5 Municipalities where they have been working to promote a culture of peace.

An average of 25 persons in each municipality Roundtable, reflected based on the situation in the homes, schools, neighborhoods, villages and municipality on the following:

  • The challenges concerning violence and education
  • How the spaces for education look like
  • Ways in which conflicts and violence have affects young people and the educational situation
  • Can you make a contribution towards positive and sustainable peace?

The participants were provided with an opening paper prepared and presented by COMINSUD on the background and objectives of the Campaign, the context and forms of violence and how women and girls suffer. They also had information on the 2015 theme with global statistics on the effects of violence on education. COMINSUD also presented to them excepts of a rapid assessment carried out in December 2014 by UNICEF and the Ministry of Basic Education (MINEDUB) in 110 schools and 93 households in four Divisions (Diamare, Logone et Chari, Mayo Tsanaga and Maya Sava) most affected by the Boko Haram insurgency in the Far North Region. All those information enabled the participants to better appreciate the importance of the 16 days campaign and do an introspection of their local context.

These events which were covered by five community Radio Stations achieved the following:

  • The participants gained plenty of insights on the 16 Days Campaign with particular focus on violence and its effect on women and girls and the need for a culture of peace and how to build it via the opening presentation and materials handed to them.
  • The participants gained deeper insights of the challenging and difficult educational setting in which their children learn via guided discussions and exchange of practical experiences and how this affects the education of girls. Simple, low cost and practical actions were discussed that could make the school environment safe for learning such as: providing potable water, green the school, constructing separate latrines for boys and girls, speaking out and sanctioning actions that violate children especially girls.
  • Participants recognized the lack of tolerance amongst communities in conflict and how inadequate use of non violent approaches to conflicts resolutions reliance on external solutions have brought several negative consequences on in their municipalities. They strongly resolved to strengthen local conflict and dispute resolution structures within the communities and to create Municipal Peace Committees and Peace Desks to deal with conflicts and emergencies.
  • Participants committed to widen actions within their spheres of influence to promote a culture of peace. In this respected, over 500 copies of packages designed to stimulate discussions where shared out to be distributed to religious leaders, schools and groups within each municipality

Using the packages and communicating the content amongst others, called on people to make a peace action such as:

  • Wearing the white ribbon during the 16-day period as a commitment of the wearer to never commit or condone violence against women and children.
  • Use your skills, knowledge and influence to help the victims of violence and abuse.
  • Speak out against violence toward woman and children and encourage silent female and children victims to talk about abuse and ensure that they get help.
  • Encouraged men and boys to talk about abuse and discourage abusive and violent behavior.
  • Also try to understand how your own attitudes and actions might perpetuate violence.
  • Use social media (telephone, facebook, email, whatsup etc) to exchange messages of peace and reconciliation.
  • Use religion worship service, cultural gathering etc to exchange messages of peace and reconciliation.
  • Promote mobilization and actions of individuals and communities to promote reconciliation or eradicate violence via exchange visits, peace talks, peace gestures etc.
Deputy Mayor of Bali Municipality with Peace Volunteers

Deputy Mayor of Bali Municipality with Peace Volunteers

Fon Nsoh (COMINSUD) introducing Peace Volunteers at the Municipal Roundtable in Bali

Fon Nsoh (COMINSUD) introducing Peace Volunteers at the Municipal Roundtable in Bali

Peace Volunteers at the Municipal Roundtable in Bali

Peace Volunteers at the Municipal Roundtable in Bali

Deputy Mayor Ngwe Mary Assumpta opening the Municipal Roundtable in Balikumbat

Deputy Mayor Ngwe Mary Assumpta opening the Municipal Roundtable in Balikumbat

Mr Fon Nsoh introducing the 16 days campaign and giving out the handouts prepared by COMINSUD in Balikumbat

Mr Fon Nsoh introducing the 16 days campaign and giving out the handouts prepared by COMINSUD in Balikumbat

Deputy Mayor Ngwe Mary Assumpta with the Peace Volunteers of Balikumbat

Deputy Mayor Ngwe Mary Assumpta with the Peace Volunteers of Balikumbat

16 days of activism: Promoting dialogue and peace within communities

This year we are celebrating the 24th year of the “16 Days of Activism Against Gender-Based Violence Campaign“. The 2015 theme is “From Peace in the Home to Peace in the World: Make Education Safe for All”. Our  29 trained Peace Volunteers joined 32 Volunteers of the Justice and Peace Service, Bamenda to raise awareness and stimulate discussions in their communities on this year’s theme.

They are using November 25th to December 10th 2015 in soliciting the engagement of religious leaders, heads of worship places and educational authorities in promoting messages, reflections and actions that promotes sustainable peace at the family, community, region and country level through:

  • Sending a messages of reconciliation to someone;
  • Sending telephone messages promoting and supporting peace;
  • Seeking to mediate between persons or groups in conflicting situations;
  • Supporting the needs of a needy and vulnerable children in school;
  • Participating in radio call-in programs sharing positive views on peace building;
  • Using Facebook, whatsapp and twitter to share messages for peace.