Despite the complex situation in Solhan, USAID’s Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI) Burkina Faso Regional Program (BFRP) adapted to the fluid context, and brought community leaders together to discuss issues facing their communities. BFRP gathered participants outside of the existing commune to ensure they felt free to openly discuss violent extremism, and identify solutions to counter the influence of terrorist groups in their communities. In August 2019, Tabital Andal, a local community organization which trains local leaders on ways to diffuse tensions between residents, organized a three-day Countering Violent Extremism (CVE) training in Sebba. The training taught leaders to develop messages on peace, and on the negative consequences of social exclusion and marginalization.
In addition to gathering key community leaders outside of Solhan for trainings, in May 2020, BFRP encouraged the use of radio programming as a safe and popular means for leaders to raise awareness in their communities. The program partnered with community grantee Association Pootal (meaning “understanding” in Fulani) to use radio programming to engage leaders by recording messages of peace for broadcasting across the commune and province. In communities with limited access to news and information, these messages are especially important, because they showcase leaders discussing the importance of drawing on traditional values, to find lasting conflict resolution and counter youth radicalization.
Sadiata, one of the community leaders who participated in the awareness campaign, is committed to women and youth issues in Solhan. She acknowledges the importance of her voice due to her role as Head of the women’s leadership group in the region, and the usefulness of standing together against sources of division amongst community members. During the radio program Sadiata emphasized, “Our ancestors showed us the path to follow by establishing values of respect and appreciation of others in order to encourage peace and dialogue between communities. Let’s all work to preserve harmony and mutual understanding in our commune!”
Despite initial accessibility problems that led the project to pause activities in the region, BFRP successfully mobilized Solhan leaders to safer locations to conduct their activities. These community leaders are now better able to raise awareness on violent extremism, act as facilitators in dispute settlements, and foster a more stable society.
"Let's all work to preserve harmony and mutual understanding in our commune!"
- Sadiata, Solhan Women’s Leadership Group