Tackling the Root Causes of Conflict
In ongoing African conflict environments where people are killed, injured, and displaced, values such as peace, truth, justice, mercy and reconciliation cannot take deep root. It is very difficult to have sustained development if schools, hospitals, training programs, water sources and other infrastructure are damaged or destroyed. Therefore, unless violent inter-ethnic conflict is addressed – and people cannot live normal lives – development work cannot be sustainable and religious and spiritual values cannot take root. To be involved in peace initiatives and humanitarian work without seeking to understand the root causes and adopting appropriate skills to resolve them will never yield true peace.
Shalom’s approach to this ongoing problem is unique. The organizations sets out to tackle the root causes, as distinct from just dealing with the symptoms, of conflict by having a qualified international team of peace practitioners, from within and outside Africa, who have a vocational commitment to conflict transformation in the continent by:
- Supporting communities to rebuild relationships that have been fractured through training peace-building professionals with the requisite skills and techniques for long term conflict prevention and management
- Delivering quality conflict management training to local communities and leaders to facilitate a deeper understanding and knowledge of the issues driving their conflict
- Conducting empirical research among local communities into the causes of violence, thus overcoming the often dangerous rumours, speculation and propaganda about the causes and dynamics of the conflict
- Working with local leaders and influential opinion shapers to ensure they are part of the long-term solution to preventing conflict, and are engaging them in problem solving workshops
- Promoting the construction and development of inter-ethnic schools, medical centres, water projects – with and among the different communities in conflict
- Conducting Peace Education in primary and secondary schools and with groups of influential opinion shapers in conflict environments, aimed at delegitimizing the use of force in solving conflicts, and thus fostering a culture of peace
What does Shalom do?
Shalom pursues lasting peace by producing the empirical research of the root causes of each conflict, teaching conflict resolution and building inter-tribal trust and cooperation. It holds workshops, trains tribal leaders in conflict resolution, and encourages sustainable human development, for example, through the building of schools powered by solar energy in remote areas historically troubled by violence.
Why Is Shalom needed?
The need for quality conflict management processes is illustrated by the ongoing persistent conflicts, some dating back to the 19th century, between ethnic communities in the border areas,where Kenya touches Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Somalia. More recently, the need was further demonstrated by inter-ethnic clashes in the highlands of Kenya in 1992, 1997 and during the 2007-8 post-election violence in Kenya when over 1,200 people were killed, thousands injured and hundreds of thousands displaced. Furthermore, there is the need to counter religious radicalization in Eastern Africa, which requires urgent attention because of its contagion, and local and international consequences.
What are Shalom’s goals?
Shalom aims to end the cycle of violence and war, primarily in Eastern Africa, through peace-building, human development and reconciliation. In the coming years, Shalom plans to bring its successful model of conflict resolution to other communities and countries in the region where violence continues to destabilize societies, people are unable to meet their basic human needs or fulfill their potential.Shalom is guided by the philosophy that conflicts are essentially about inadequately met human needs. It also upholds the philosophy that the end of physical violence – mere “negative peace” – in a conflict needs to be followed up by reconciliation among the parties so that the peace can endure. The Shalom Center is driven by the need to work for positive peace, which involves breaking down barriers, including those dealing with human rights and the environment, in the belief that human needs which are not addressed eventually contribute to physical violence. Shalom aims for the deep-rooted transformation in society of conflict-generating actors, and structures.
What is Shalom’s impact?
Shalom believes that peace is not merely the absence of violence, and strives to create cooperation and dialogue where none exists. During its brief history, the organization has been a major contributor to the national, civil and religious domains of society, bringing peace and reconciliation to the tribal areas of Kenya Bordering Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, and Somalia. In addition, Shalom has been acknowledged as one of the key organisations preventing post-election violence during the 2013 electoral process in Kenya, which was characterised by almost no violence and a high voter turnout. Shalom’s work continues in Kenya, and extends to neighboring countries in East Africa.