Interreligious Foundations for Social Cohesion: The Central African Republic Interfaith Peacebuilding Partnership (CIPP)

Speeches Shim

Friday, March 20, 2020
Members of a local religious organization plan their context assessment during the CIPP Social Cohesion Community of Practice Launch Workshop

Background

 

The Central African Republic (CAR) continues to experience sustained political instability and intermittent armed conflict. Long-standing economic and political grievances have led to violence along ethno-religious lines. Against this backdrop, the Central African Republic Interfaith Peacebuilding Partnership (CIPP) was formed. The goal of the CIPP project is for Central African institutions to lay the groundwork for sustainable social cohesion in CAR. CIPP has three objectives: 1) capacity strengthening for CAR institutions; 2) generating secure livelihoods; and 3) trauma healing and peace education services.

 

1) CIPP’s capacity strengthening model of partnership engages beneficiaries (Central African civil society, faith-based, and government institutions) to build individuals’ skills through training and other learning events. In addition, CIPP provided the institutions with technical and financial resources necessary to promote social cohesion in the communities they serve. 2) The project provides grants to business associations and micro-enterprises while at the same time helping these groups officially register with the government and develop sustainable business plans. CIPP also strengthens the capacity of members of community savings groups through training modules on financial management and offers youth employment and accompaniment as well. 3) The training-of-trainers model for trauma healing enables Central Africans to organize trauma healing groups for communities. CIPP has a peace education workshop methodology and a mobile exhibition, which travels around the country and invites audiences from the community to view photos and listen to stories of peace from their fellow citizens. CIPP’s gender-based violence (GBV) module works with well-regarded community members as GBV facilitators for workshops.

 

Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

 

CIPP is a consortium of five actors, led by Catholic Relief Services and includes Aegis Trust, Islamic Relief Worldwide, La Plateforme des Confessions Religieuses de Centrafrique (PCRC) and World Vision International. The CIPP consortium was formed to mirror the structure of and work in partnership with the PCRC (the CAR Interreligious Platform—with representation from the Cardinal/President of the CAR Episcopal Conference, the Pastor/President of the CAR Evangelical Alliance, and the Imam/President of the CAR Islamic Community), the foremost interreligious peacebuilding body in CAR. The PCRC’s interreligious structure—with Catholic, Muslim, and Protestant representation—is reflected in CIPP’s international partner organizations.

 

The PCRC, while serving as a national actor and prominent voice promoting peace, also benefits from capacity strengthening activities. CIPP is designed so that the PCRC assumes increasingly greater project management responsibilities as its capacity grows. All three strategic objectives have workshop methodologies that are inclusive of the numerous religious and civil society leaders and organizations in CAR. CIPP has a capacity strengthening process with several different civil society and faith-based organizations, engaging with Muslim, Catholic, Protestant and secular institutions to ensure diverse representation in the project’s local partnerships. The activities for trauma healing and peace education include two methodologies that are co-managed by an interreligious team comprised of Protestant, Muslim, and Catholic facilitators. The methodologies depend on mixed participation to achieve their results of helping individual community members heal. In many of CIPP’s workshops local community and religious leaders also take part. Since local religious leaders often have strong influences in communities, they can motivate families to participate in CIPP’s activities. In addition, CIPP works for the safe return of internally displaced persons and refugees to their homes by restoring broken inter-group relationships within CAR communities.

 

Results

 

As of June 2017, CIPP conducted 120 events, trainings, or other activities with 2,011 participants. By the end of 2017, 14 local organizations received a small grant to support their projects. Capacity strengthening activities accompany these small grants, including capacity assessments, trainings, on-site accompaniment, and learning events. 142 individuals representing 17 business associations and 37 micro-enterprises have participated in trainings on business management skills. Nineteen savings groups have been formed, with approximately 335 individuals trained in the first six of nine modules of the methodology. 167 individuals have been trained in peace education. Meanwhile, 19 trauma healing facilitators have been trained and 207 individuals have participated in the trauma healing sessions.

 

The national profile of the PCRC has risen due to its response to recent violence in the southeast of the country. During this period, religious leaders have mediated between the armed groups, which enabled displaced persons of different religious identities to reach safe havens and humanitarian agencies to access sites to distribute emergency assistance.

Last updated: March 27, 2020

Share This Page