Dear Partners and Friends of LPI,
Many have summarised 2017 as a turbulent year for our world. Indeed, the Global Peace Index indicates that peace deteriorated in 68 countries in 2017. However, a less emphasized fact is that there was an improvement in peace conditions in 93 countries, according to the same index. In many places, peace has improved thanks to people’s efforts to build peace. One of the most robust findings across LPI’s work over the past thirty years has been that the most effective way to sustain peace is to lock arms with and invest in – and sometimes, get out of the way of – the capacities and agency of people and organizations from the contexts where we work. This is also supported by a major meta review of peacebuilding evaluations published in 2017 by renowned Columbia University peace researcher Prof. Séverinne Auteserre who recently testified to the US Congress in support of LPI’s approach to bottom-up peacebuilding.
In living out LPI’s creed that “peace begins with people”, in 2017 we are proud to have worked alongside 47 local and national organizations (including 10 Universities) to engage with local communities in long term peacebuilding processes across several countries.
We’d like to share a few exciting examples:
- In Somalia, an often-cited indication women’s increased participation in decision-making on peace and security in 2017 was the increase of women representatives in the national parliament from 14% to 24%. At the local level, LPI also witnessed the role of remarkable women in building peace in Kismayo town, where a two-year women-to-women reconciliation process supported by LPI and partners was elevated to an inter-clan women’s platform in 2017. At the end of the year, the women’s platform was requested by (male) community elders to work with them in broader peacebuilding in the town.
- In Kenya, during the height of the contested 2017 general election, LPI supported 24 rapid response activities using mobile technology, conceived and led by youth and women leaders, to diffuse tensions and creating space for dialogue in several informal settlements in Nairobi.
- Against the backdrop of some of the most intense identity-based flare-ups on Ethiopian universities, LPI and partners supported 3300 diverse students – across the major dividing lines – at five universities to maintain dialogue space to engage on the most divisive issues and transform their conflictual relationships with one another. The lessons coming out of these youth-led dialogues in Ethiopia and beyond have been synthesized in a new LPI report, Being and Becoming A Peacebuilder, prepared for a UN global study to inform how UN Resolution 2250 on Youth, Peace and Security should be made operable around the world.
- Borderlands constitute the most conflict-prone and socio-economically marginal spaces in the Horn of Africa. To achieve the larger goal of improving or developing new policies to improve human security at the regional level, LPI’s Horn of Africa Regional Program is coordinating the ‘Collaborative Policy Analysis and Engagement’ CPAE Pilot, with the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), InterAfrica Group and the Organization for Social Science Research in Eastern and Southern Africa. This initiative seeks to identify pressing regional policy dilemmas and develop policy options in response to these dilemmas through a collaborative process involving consultations and inputs from civil-society, academia, governments and borderland communities from seven Member States of IGAD. The CPAE Pilot has led to the development of a draft policy framework on the Informal Cross-Border Trade-Cross Border Security Governance nexus. The policy recommendations articulated in the policy framework will enhance the livelihoods of borderland communities by easing cross-border economic exchanges and also improve cross-border security and cross-border cooperation in the Horn. The CPAE Pilot also represents an innovative model of collaborative policy development in constricted spaces on issues that have been traditionally considered either too-sensitive or off-limits.
As an institution, 2017 was a pivotal year, with considerable reflection regarding LPI’s current and potential contribution to the changing world around us. Internally we saw key staff in our Uppsala office retire, combined with a significant growth in our programmes in the field, and increasing recognition and demands on LPI to make a broader impact upon the growing divisions in our world. In addition, recognizing the growing professionalism and expertise from our operating contexts, our local partners and local staff are taking on more management responsibility and leadership.
Recognizing that conflict does not only occur “over there” and that LPI’s work and approach isn’t just relevant in the Horn of Africa, we began to explore the potential for LPI to make a difference and impact ‘on the doorstep’ of our head office in Sweden, by bringing our significant expertise to bear on issues that polarize and need dialogue in the Swedish context, as well as more globally.
This internal reflection culminated in a process of restructuring the Institute to reflect more closely our strategic ambitions as reflected in our 2017-2021 Strategic Plan. This restructuring will allow for stronger management of our field programmes, deepened and broadened strategic leadership across the Institute, and create more focus and resources for strategic objectives two (policy engagement) and three (knowledge and learning to enhance practice). This restructuring, combined with greatly improving our fiscal and institutional management systems, will allow for growth and controlled expansion in the years to come.
As a result, as we commence 2018, LPI has a broader management structure in our field offices, and two new Africa-based Director positions, and a new unit in the Uppsala office:
- Leading our brilliant and dedicated country teams, we have much stronger and effective in-country programme management with a team of experienced and inspiring new senior managers including Beatrice Nzovu as our Kenya Country Manager, Berouk Mesfin as our new HARP Manager, and Adan Kabelo as our new Somalia Country Manager. In Addis Ababa, Firew Kefyalew joined LPI as our new Head of the Addis Ababa regional office.
- Leading this remarkable group of managers in Africa, Jody Henderson has taken up the challenge of being our Nairobi-based Director of Programmes.
- Hannah Tsadik has likewise taken up the challenge to develop and grow LPI’s Policy engagement as our new Director of Global Policy, building on the exciting work she initiated in the Horn of Africa Regional Programme. She will be exploring ways for LPI to be more visible and engaged on the global stage.
- Jenny Svanberg will be leading our engagement on the Swedish front, linking more closely with policy makers, expanding our engagement with universities, and other like-minded Swedish organizations, while ensuring that the linkages between our work in Africa and our Swedish Engagement are strengthened.
- In the Uppsala office, we are in the process of reorienting our previous Programme Unit into a new Knowledge, Learning and Development Unit, which will coordinate the considerable technical expertise across the LPI family and ensure highest quality and capacity across the board. This will enable us to better achieve our third strategic objective and allow for greater synergy and learning both within LPI as well as externally.
We are excited about these new developments at LPI and working with you, our partners and colleagues, amidst these energizing changes. The challenges that we face are increasingly global and interconnected and as such, the invaluable lessons that we are learning together in our programmes around dialogue, inclusiveness, social justice, equitable and sustainable use of our shared resources, diversity and tolerance are widely applicable and more needed today than ever. Likewise, peacebuilding cannot be done alone – it is always the most successful when actors, levels of engagement, initiatives and organizations complement, synergize and support one another.
As such, we thank you for engaging and partnering with LPI in 2017 and we look forward to taking it to new heights in 2018. And we thank you for believing that peace is possible in a world that would too often tell us otherwise.
With best regards,