Tostan’s Peace and Security Project, now in its third year, has trained over 3,500 people from 60 participating communities in Guinea-Bissau, Senegal and The Gambia.

Funded by the Swedish International Development Agency (SIDA) and based on Tostan’s community-led approach, the project seeks to strengthen human security and to contribute to peace and security across the region of West Africa.

Following supervisor and facilitator trainings earlier this year, the Peace and Security Module has now been rolled out across participating communities. The module reinforces themes from Tostan’s three-year, holistic Community Empowerment Program (CEP), and provides participants with the knowledge and tools necessary to mitigate and manage conflict on personal, familial and community levels.

To date, 3,765 participants have taken part in classes, led using local languages. 2,200 participants in Senegal, 966 in the Gambia, and 599 in Guinea-Bissau have learned, over the course of 19 classes, about international human rights instruments and the importance of peace and human security. In addition, they have learned about the prevention, management and resolution of conflicts through the conflict analysis process, communication and dialogue, emotional management, mediation, and the role of women in the prevention and management of conflicts.

At the end of the module, participants create an action plan to strengthen human security within their respective communities and establish a peace committee capable of mediation and conflict resolution. 30 communities have already set up these peace committees, including Kagnoubé, in The Gambia.

Through the process of organized diffusion, the knowledge and skills gained during the Peace and Security Module have also been shared by community members with 55 adopted villages within their social networks, as well as 14 villages who have hosted social mobilization teams.

In addition to the implementation of the module, the Peace and Security project team based at Tostan’s headquarters in Dakar, Senegal continues to advocate for the inclusion of grassroots communities in regional peacebuilding initiatives through partnerships with major actors in the field, such as the Working Group on Women, Peace and Security in West Africa, run by the United Nations Office for West Africa.

This also includes cooperation at a local level. The team is working with the Plateforme des Femmes pour la Paix en Casamance (Women’s Platform for Peace in the Casamance) to support peace and security in the Casamance region of Southern Senegal – as well as across the wider region. Mory Camara, the Project’s Coordinator is currently taking part in a three-week training session in Ghana through a partnership with the West African Network for Peacebuilding.

Later this month, 32 communities from Senegal and The Gambia will meet in Niaming, in the Kolda region of Senegal, to celebrate the International Day of Peace and exchange ideas about peacebuilding with their neighbors from across the border.