March 6, 2023 – The areas where WPDI operates are chosen specifically for their social and communal fragility, areas where violence and instability have taken hold in the past, and can always resurface if the right support is not provided, bearing in mind that building lasting peace is a delicate process and requires patience, structural support and guidance. It can only be achieved if local leaders and stakeholders play an active role in its development, and if competing groups are able to talk to each other to engender a congenital understanding of each other’s concerns.
In order to provide a platform for such discussions, WPDI runs regular Community Dialogue meetings that give competing factions opportunities to resolve issues before they snowball into violence, with WPDI acting as the agreed mediator. In Uganda in 2022, WPDI ran 92 such meetings, and trained 1,075 community leaders in peacebuilding.
These conflicts often involve land disputes between competing tribes which have been going on for many years. In Lagile in May 2022, for example, WPDI was called in to settle a land dispute that has been going on for 7 years between three clans. A lawyer was invited in to explain the details of land ownership to the different parties and help mediate to find a solution. “I would like to appreciate WPDI for having invited a lawyer for this dialogue to sensitize the community first and then later resolve the real concerns. Thank you.” said Oketa George, Chairman of the Land Committee.
Another land dispute was resolved in the Lunyiri Sub County in Pader District in May, After the two clans have been fighting to a point that the police were called in to make arrests, and despite numerous attempts at mediation, WPDI decided to step in to resolve the dispute through Community Dialogues with the different parties. A solution was found in which they agreed to share pasture for grazing.
A key lesson we have drawn from these dialogues over time is that such local conflicts cannot be resolved if a neutral mediator is not present to guide the different parties through a process of dialogue, healing and resolution. Understanding how to resolve conflicts means taking an objective stance, encouraging transparency and honesty and providing a platform for deliberation. WPDI intends to remain active in its role as a mediator in the different countries where we operate in 2023.
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