By Sheena McMullen, MA
On Wednesday 30th November, Shalom had the honour of joining a roundtable discussion on regional conflict, hosted by the Irish Embassy to coincide with the visit to Kenya of the Irish Government Minister for the Diaspora and Overseas Development Aid, Mr. Joseph McHugh, T.D. This event brought together experts and practitioners working on conflict analysis, humanitarian response and peacebuilding in Kenya, Sudan and Somalia.
Shalom presented on its vision and interventions, outlining the methodology, emphasizing empirical research, grass root conflict transformation, strategic peace-development projects, and the resulting positive impacts we have witnessed in the areas where we are engaged. We were pleased to contribute to this event and listen to insights of others confronted with conflict situations.
A particularly encouraging aspect of being part of this event was to see the Minister and government officials engaging thoughtfully with the hard realities of how conflict is affecting development and seeking to understand these issues in order to make the Irish contribution to this region even more effective and, crucially, more sustainable. We are proud to partner with Irish Aid, channelled through Misean Cara, and believe that our model that prioritizes understanding a conflict, then empowering the local community to facilitate its transformation towards positive peace, allows for the development of a community in a way that helps ensure greater sustainability and progress.
Without peace, there can be no development and similarly, without development there is often a greater chance of conflict emerging as resources are stretched, institutions insufficient, and communities are increasingly stressed. By engaging at the root causes of conflict and encouraging communities to address these issues meaningfully, we have seen intercommunal roads and market places reopened, business cooperatives formed, social services restored and developed and civil society mobilized to build and take responsibility for peace and progress in their communities. We believe in this vision and model, and are witnessing tangible positive results in conflict environments where we work; it was a privilege to share this with the Irish Delegation and other key partners working in the region.