Voices for Peace (V4P)

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Engaging communities against violent extremism by promoting good governance and social cohesion in West Africa

Voices for Peace (V4P) is a regional project aimed at countering violent extremism (CVE) and promoting democracy, human rights, and good governance by leveraging both traditional and new media at the community level in areas affected by violent extremism. The project builds partnerships with respected leaders, institutions, and networks to address drivers and root causes of violent extremism such as marginalization, exclusion, and poor governance. It supports a culturally effective communications environment to empower locally influential voices, establish interactive media platforms (radio, social media, and television), and engage at-risk youth, women, and communities.  

V4P covers two major areas of Violent Extremist Organization (VEO) conflict: the Lake Chad region (Northern Cameroon, Western Chad, Eastern Niger) and the Liptako-Gourma/Tri-border region (Central Mali, Northern Burkina Faso, and Western Niger). Both regions have an active presence of transnational terrorist organizations including Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State along with local VEOs including Boko Haram in the Lake Chad region and Nusrat al-Islam (JNIM) in the tri-border region. As this landscape continues to shift, V4P has the built-in flexibility to modify its geographic targets, messaging, and scope to adapt and respond to changing violent extremist narratives in fluid security situations. The project is an element of USAID’s support to the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership. Together with other CVE programming and broader development efforts, the project contributes to the U.S. Government's goal of reducing vulnerability to violent extremism in West Africa.

PROJECT OBJECTIVES

  • Create opportunities for citizens and communities to engage with local/regional governments on CVE
  • Foster individual attitudes in favor of CVE engagement
  • Encourage local and regional governments and societies to engage actively with marginalized groups on CVE
  • Prevent extremists’ exploitations of community violence

PROGRAM ACTIVITIES

  • Produce and broadcast interactive media programs in over 19 local languages on 82 radio stations to promote peace, tolerance, good governance, inclusivity, and human rights
  • Engage at risk-youth across through original, interactive radio content and social media channels
  • Promote community engagement and civic action through listener discussion and action groups, radio station associations, local media centers, and tech camps
  • Improve technical and managerial quality of local radio station partners in the front lines of CVE through tailored trainings, material support, and peer-to-peer support networks
  • Enhance regional collaboration among CVE actors to address cross-border VE drivers
  • Rigorously evaluate project results and promote learning through pilot activities, project review workshops, studies, white papers, and complexity-aware monitoring and evaluation techniques

PROJECT RESULTS

  • V4P partner radio stations reach over 3 million listeners, largely in rural and hard-to-reach communities. 
  • V4P has produced over 15,000 hours of original broadcasts to engage communities in local CVE-relevant issues.
  • An impact evaluation of V4P’s radio soap opera content in Burkina Faso demonstrated that among listeners, the productions (i) reduced attitudes on the justification for violence by 4%, (ii) increased willingness to collaborate with security forces by 18%, and (iii) increased awareness of governance issues by 5% and insecurity 2.5%.
  • Throughout 2020, V4P organized a yearlong campaign to collect citizen feedback and recommendations on the government’s Emergency Development for the Sahel (PUS) Plan, an ongoing development initiative in Burkina Faso’s Sahel and Northern regions. The final report, containing data collected in dozens of town hall meetings and radio call-in programs, ended up on the desk of the President of Burkina Faso who praised the report as a novel, essential approach for accountability. 
  • At the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, V4P supported civil society coalitions and local religious leaders in Northern Cameroon to organize dozens of dialogues on the intersection of COVID-19 policies and religious extremism. Together, communities and their representatives committed to preventing VE groups from turning COVID-19 into a galvanizing issue. These dialogues took place in a delicate context of rising conflicts around the forced closure of mosques in the region, and because of the need to respect COVID-19 protective measures.
  • In February 2020, six extremist leaders were motivated to desert their camps in Eastern Niger and surrender themselves to local authorities. The defectors testified they were inspired by messages from two traditional leaders from Diffa during a “peace caravan” that visited 14 villages. The leaders had stressed that a process is in place for jihadist defectors who wished to reintegrate into society. 
  • In late 2020, V4P finalized the construction of a brand-new radio station and two relay extender towers in Baga Sola, Chad. Nangui FM will air original content in seven languages to foster inclusive public dialogues on communities’ vulnerability to VE and marginalization. Newly hired radio staff has received extensive training on management, production quality, and CVE content creation strategies.
  • In July 2020, Radio Goura, the community radio station partner in the town of Ouatagouna in Mali’s Gao region, reopened after being closed for five months due to fierce community disagreements over the station’s management. V4P was uniquely able to lead a process of mediation and reach an agreement thanks to its effective radio work in the past, and the trust it had earned in the community.

GOAL: Engaging Communities against Violent Extremism in West Africa

LIFE OF PROGRAM: September 2016 – December 2021

TOTAL USAID FUNDING: U.S. $ 31.5 million

GEOGRAPHIC FOCUS: Burkina Faso, Chad, Niger, Northern Cameroon, and Eastern Mali

IMPLEMENTING PARTNER: Equal Access International

Last updated: August 12, 2021

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