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Peacebuilding: working towards stable communities

Peace is not just the absence of violence; it is also the presence of respect and social cohesion. ZOA aims to transform the attitudes, behaviours, and (local) causes of conflict. ZOA works with local communities and organisations and engages local governments with the objective of sustainable change.

People in DR Congo gather in small groups to promote peace and reconciliation
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Focus on women and youth

Peacebuilding at a local level

In countries affected by conflicts, peacebuilding work is needed to create the basis for a sustainable, peaceful future. In our programmes, we aim to transform the attitudes and behaviours of conflict actors and address local causes of conflict. We work at the grassroots level, with communities, local organisations and local governments. As women and youth have a key role in promoting peace and security, ZOA strengthens their influence in peace and reconciliation processes.

ZOA focusses on four areas of peacebuilding work:

1. Strengthen social cohesion and trust

Violent conflicts lead to mistrust between people, the destruction of the social fabric and to trauma. If people do not deal with their own traumatic experiences and do not regain trust in each other, conflicts may easily start again. People need to learn new ways of nonviolent behaviour and inter-generational cycles of violence need to be broken. Sometimes working directly on peace and conflict is too sensitive. In these situations, bringing different groups together on less sensitive topics of common interest is an effective way of breaking down stereotypes and creating common understanding between groups. Specific ZOA interventions in this area of work are:

  • Community Based Socio Therapy (CBST)
  • Mixed groups for sport, livelihood or community projects
  • Peace education in schools and other groups

2. Community based security, conflict prevention and resolution mechanisms

In conflict affected countries the violent conflicts of the past have led to divisions in society, to feelings of hatred, marginalization and trauma. Formal justice systems are either absent of dysfunctional, corrupt or inaccessible due to distance and costs. Local peace committees are an alternative mechanism focusing on the resolution of local conflicts, emphasize reconciliation and community cohesion and play an important role in conflict prevention and early warning systems. ZOA supports the establishment and the functioning of these committees. ZOA also aims to improve the effectiveness and inclusiveness of local security councils. These councils are local mechanisms with representatives of local security actors, local government and civil society, whose role is to protect civilians and provide security.

Women in Burundi
Corita Corbijn

Corita Corbijn, Peacebuilding Specialist

Everybody agrees that women’s voices must be heard to create lasting peace. But is it easier said than done. We have seen encouraging changes as a result of the participation of women in peace commitees.

3. Reducing land and water conflicts

ZOA has developed expertise in pro-poor land registration and land tenure security in post conflict contexts. In particular, ZOA’s community based approach and the focus on women and youth make ZOA uniquely qualified to address land insecurity as a root cause of vulnerability and conflict. Women and youth are often the most vulnerable groups in relation to land rights. ZOA addresses water related conflicts based on good water conflict analysis. We work on inclusive and effective water management systems, water scarcity and water conflict resolution mechanisms.

More about ZOA's work on land rights 

4. Reducing gender based violence

The frequency of gender based violence (GBV) and related conflicts, both in and outside the family is very high in the countries where ZOA works. The repeated and prolonged experience of violence and conflicts in general has effects, causing high levels of family conflicts and GBV. One of the root causes of GBV are the social norms about gender, women and girls: they are often seen as inferior to men and boys, wives are considered to be the property of their husbands. “Failed” or “frustrated masculinity” is often seen as a cause of conflicts in general and GBV in particular. ZOA aims to address gender based violence by challenging social norms about gender and addressing women’s specific experience of security and impunity. ZOA also works to improve the response to GBV survivors especially in the area of socio-economic integration.

ZOA and Peace Nexus

Networks and partners

Working together

ZOA participates in several networks and works together with other NGO’s to increase the impact of our peacebuilding projects.  We work with the Knowledge Platform Security and Rule of LawLandAc, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the NetherlandsSIDAUSAID and the Peacenexus Foundation.