The Conservation Society of Sierra Leone (CSSL) is part of the Civil Peace Service (CPS) network of Bread for the World (BftW) from Germany. CPS stands for Civil Peace Service. Through the CPS programme, BftW supports partner organisations in different countries around the world – one of them is Sierra Leone. One part of their support is trainings for partner organisations on skills related to peace building, conflict sensitivity and working in and on conflict situations.
On the 21rst of March a group of 23 men and women came together at Bureh Town for a five-day workshop. All of them have at least one thing in common: they are part of the CPS network of Bread for the World in Sierra Leone.
The difference between "negative peace" and "positive peace"
With different professional backgrounds, the participants were drawn from various partner organizations working in conflict situations. We often think, we are living in peace because there are no gun shots in the streets. During the workshop, participants learned about the different concepts of peace. There is “negative peace” – which means a violent conflict was stopped, but the two parties are only separated; the conflict itself is not settled and can break out into violence again very easy. We talk about “positive peace” when a conflict is ended and sorted. The former conflict parties learned to understand each other and found a peaceful solution for their conflict.
We as CPS-network are aiming for “positive peace”. Most of us are working in a situation where there are tensions in the society, even though there might be no open violence. In the first days of the workshop, we learned a lot about the different situations other partners are working on through using tools for conflict analysis. We learned about conflicts between cattle herders and farmers in the northern part of Sierra Leone, about marginalisation of the youth which leads to drug abuse and violence, about tensions if we start to support women’s rights and work for women’s empowerment, challenges to address the dangers of FGM and conflicts when it comes to the wise use of our natural resources and engagement for the protection of our forests and wetlands.
Strategies to reach "positive peace" and change in attitude and behaviour
The CPS programme from BftW provides various support for its partner organisations. One of it is this training. The partners in Sierra Leone had a “Do No Harm” training in 2021. The “Do No Harm” approach helps to work in conflict situations without doing more harm to the situation or without provoking even new conflicts. But as we want to reach “positive peace” the “Do No Harm” approach is not enough. We have to work on the conflict. We have to try to identify the conflict and find a peaceful and generally accepted solution. Mostly this is only possible with a change in attitude and behaviour. One important lesson, participants learned during the five days of the workshop was, how to develop a strategy and a programme in a way that we really reach our goal. How can we make sure that our work is not only the implementation of planned activities but that our work really brings the changes in society we want to reach? This part of the workshop was the hardest one – but eye opening.
Throughout the workshop, we had lively discussions and very active participations. The role plays about the importance of diversity on the last evening were only one proof for the great atmosphere between the participants and the facilitators.
Before the participants went back to their organisations, everyone noted down what he or she wants to change in the future and how the organisations want to implement and use the new knowledge in their future work. The feedback round showed that the workshop was a great success. The participants went home with a lot of new knowledge on how to develop their proposals and strategies, new tools for their work in and on conflict situations, and some plans for working together as a network and support each other in their next activities.
The CPS network of Sierra Leone is very grateful to BftW for this workshop and their efforts to support us in creating “positive peace” in our society.