West Africa faces grave challenges to peace and security. Many peace and security actors in the region operate at the policy level in urban centers, leaving the majority of the population, which is illiterate or rural, behind. Tostan, an American Non-Governmental Organization, implements human rights-based education in rural villages across West Africa and engages social networks in movements to transform harmful social norms. This thesis provides direction for Tostan to further apply its grassroots approach to the promotion of peace and security in West Africa. The Swedish International Development Agency (Sida), a governmental agency, funded Tostan’s Peace and Security Initiative, whose overall goal is to create links between rural communities and institutional peace and security bodies in West Africa and build peace and security within and between grassroots social networks. Preliminary research during the initiative revealed unprecedented information regarding West African community stakeholder’s perspectives on the types and sources of conflict in their lives. Discrimination or marginalization due to differences in ethnicity, race, religion, political affiliation, or caste and a lack of communication were cited as sources of conflict in all five West African countries in which research was conducted, and the exclusion of women’s voices was noted in all but one. Programmatic suggestions in this work are based on a review of academic literature and the results of the preliminary research regarding the root causes of conflict and successful means of building peace and security. An evaluation of other regional peace and security actors, including the African Union, WANEP, Gorée Institute, regional working groups on women, peace, and security, and traditional mediators, informs recommendations for effective partnerships. New programming focuses on the right to freedom from discrimination, resource management, inclusion of women in peace building, traditional and alternative conflict resolution skills, regional peace and security initiatives, and intra and inter-network dialogue.
|School:||The American University of Paris (France)|
|Source:||MAI 56/02M(E), Masters Abstracts International|
|Keywords:||Africa, Grassroots, Peace, Security|
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