November 4, 2022 – WPDI’s Community Dialogue program aims to provide spaces for open exchange and mediation processes in all places, however remote or however entrenched their conflicts may seem to be. The aim of these dialogues is to be in tune with local realities and to take all the time necessary to listen to everyone. This is where the value of our Youth Peacemaker Network is manifest, since it relies on young people who can combine the knowledge they received from WPDI with their firsthand knowledge of local situations and especially the unwritten rules and unspoken truths that underlie so many seemingly intractable conflicts.
This summer, WPDI ran a series of 16 Community Dialogue meetings at the Kiryandongo Refugee Settlement in Uganda. The weekly meetings, led by WPDI-trained Youth Peacemakers, reached over 1,500 people over the 3-month period. The main purpose of the meetings was to create awareness about conflict resolution methods, to sensitize local leaders to the concerns of their constituents and to strengthen their capacity to bring peace and harmony to their communities.
The dialogues were able to resolve a number of issues, including confrontations regarding land usage (farming) and land boundaries between refugees and host communities, which had become a contentious issue causing conflict on a daily basis. After the weekly dialogue meeting, the people living in the area were able to find a peaceful resolution and agreed to coexist with mutual understanding and respect for the rule of law. The dialogue meeting strengthened the relationship between members of the host community and refugee leaders who are now working closely to ensure peace and stability in their respective communities.
Local leaders, district officials, and cultural and religious leaders all convened to constructively resolve the local disputes under the guidance of the WPDI staff and Youth Peacemakers. The sessions also provided an opportunity for WPDI to promote human rights, peacebuilding activities and community solidarity.
For some participants, especially the refugees, the meetings were a real opportunity to rekindle their hopes for a peaceful life: “The WPDI community dialogue meeting has restored hope in my life and as an asylum seeker in Kiryandongo refugee settlement it has helped me to settle well with different tribes. My knowledge & understanding on peaceful co-existence has been strengthened through the weekly dialogue meetings. Thank you WPDI,” said Makate John Goma, a local Congolese at the refugee settlement.
For other, the meetings were a great opportunity for learning how to avert conflict and resolve burning issues: “Weekly community dialogue meetings have so much contributed to the reduction of incidences of conflict in the refugee communities & in case conflict arise we have been educated on how to constructively handle without escalation of conflict through peace dialogues, peace mediation. Big thank you to WPDI & EAA,” said Kaites Moris, female representative for cluster P at the settlement.
Our dialogues can prove instrumental for building resilience and self-confidence in communities because they are guided by universal values of openness and transparency and the awareness of local contexts. By conducting Community Dialogues, WPDI’s Youth Peacemakers are also able to strengthen their presence in their communities. This, in turn, reinforces the ownership of our programs on the ground and, therefore, their empowering effect.
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