Peacebuilding in the “new” Gambia: Implementing a participatory, inclusive and local-ownership approach to conflict and development analysis
Gambian President Adama Barrow announced a four-year development plan to lay the foundations for sustainable economic growth. The main objective of the 2018-2021 National Development Plan (NDP) is to “deliver good governance and accountability, social cohesion, national reconciliation and a revitalized and transformed economy for the wellbeing of all Gambians.” On May 22, 2018, the government of The Gambia held a donor round table meeting in Brussels to present this plan. Ahead of this round table Interpeace, through its International Peacebuilding Advisory Team (IPAT), supported the UN in conducting a participatory conflict analysis in The Gambia, involving the government, private sector, civil society, and non-governmental organizations.
Interpeace-IPAT supports the UN in The Gambia
In 2017, the UN Peacebuilding Support Office (PBSO) and Interpeace signed a Memorandum of Understanding declaring their intention to support UN country teams to produce effective conflict prevention and peacebuilding programmes; and to create and reinforce the capacities of UN country teams to carry out conflict analysis and programmatic response. Interpeace makes such support available through its International Peacebuilding Advisory Team (IPAT).
In this context, Interpeace-IPAT was solicited by the the UN in The Gambia to provide support to the development of an inclusive, participatory and gender-focused peace and conflict analysis of The Gambia. The objective was to deepen the understanding of the current situation in The Gambia; identify the processes that fuel conflict and build peace, including the ways in which gender and conflict interact, and the different roles assumed by women, men and gender minorities; and lastly, to identify the strategic entry-points for UN-supported conflict prevention and peacebuilding work.
Building peace in the “new” Gambia
Interpeace-IPAT worked together with the UN Peace and Development Advisor, the government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Interior and WANEP-Gambia (West African Network for Peacebuilding), who jointly constituted the Project Team, and a national consultant. Research activities, including key informant interviews and focus group discussions, were undertaken throughout Gambia’s administrative regions (i.e. the Greater Banjul Area and Kanifing Municipality, West Coast Region, North Bank Region, Lower River Region, Central River Region, and Upper River Region), targeting stakeholders at the national, sub-regional, and district/community level. Fieldwork data processing was completed in order to enable a collaborative systems analysis, which sought to illuminate the key conflict drivers and primary peace engines currently shaping the nature of forces underpinning conflict and stability within the Gambian context today.
The participatory and gender-sensitive approach, undertaken by Interpeace-IPAT seeks to contribute to the development of trust and confidence among stakeholders, opportunities for new mechanisms for change, and local ownership. Moreover, Interpeace-IPAT’s support is characterized by an ‘accompanied capacity-building approach’, recognizing that the development of societal capacities for conflict prevention and processes that sustain peace in a society can only prevail if they are anchored in internal dynamics: owned by internal actors and perceived as the result of their own efforts. As a result, this work will help inform Gambia’s transition process.