Working towards peace

In countries affected by conflicts specific Peacebuilding work is needed to create the basis for a sustainable, peaceful future. ZOA aims to transform the attitudes and behaviours of conflict actors and address (local) causes of conflict. We work together with local communities, local organisations and the local government. We connect our ground-level efforts to higher levels where required and appropriate. Women and youth have a key role in promoting peace and security and so ZOA will strengthen their roles in peace and reconciliation processes.

What we do

ZOA is focussing 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

ZOA works on Social Cohesion and Trust in several countries including Liberia, Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Sri Lanka.

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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
  • Play an important role in conflict prevention and early warning systems

ZOA supports the establishment and the functioning of these LPCs. ZOA works with Local Peace Committees in several countries including Burundi, Congo, South Sudan, Sudan and Ethiopia. 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.

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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 youths, who are often the most vulnerable groups in relation to land rights, make ZOA uniquely qualified to address land insecurity as a root cause of vulnerability and conflict. ZOA works on land tenure in several countries including Congo, Uganda and Burundi.

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. Countries of intervention include Congo, Sudan and Afghanistan.

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“The land demarcation has helped me to secure the rights to one of my two plots. Now I will need to register the second, to secure it against further disputes.”

— Farmer, formerly displaced, Uganda

4. Reducing Gender Based Violence (GBV)

The frequency of Gender Based Violence 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 on families, 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” (men and boys who cannot live up to the culturally determined norms e.g. on marriage, having the means to provide for the family) 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 GBV 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. We work in in the area of GBV in several countries including Liberia, Congo and Sri Lanka.

contributing to a peaceful community