Our work in Ethiopia

LPI’s work in Ethiopia dates back to the late 1980s where it supported several locally driven post-conflict initiatives through partnerships with traditional leaders, NGOs and faith-based institutions. Currently, LPI works in Ethiopia primarily by supporting local peacebuilding organizations and academic institutions. LPI’s approach to conflict transformation in Ethiopia therefore centres on understanding and supporting existing formal and informal capacities for peace and working with its partners to foster new mechanisms which promote a culture of tolerance, non-violent conflict resolution and amicable relationships between diverse groups.

Rationale

Most of this work currently focuses on the federal universities in different parts of the country. In addition to producing the future leaders of the country, universities and education in general are highly regarded by the society. They are considered hubs of social process where socio-political movements (in the 1960s and 70s, but also more recently) in the past have emerged out of universities. Further, universities in Ethiopia are melting pots of diversity where students from different parts of the country and socio-cultural, political and religious backgrounds come together. They play an influential yet dual role in society where on the one hand, they can reinforce existing social tensions and stereotypes, whereas on the other hand, they have the potential to transform social attitudes. Therefore, transforming the relationships among university students has a multiplier effect in transforming the society and future of the country. Similarly, federal universities in Ethiopia function as resource centres for strengthening the capacities of local administration and government officials.

Hence LPI’s rationale when engaging with universities is if these universities include training on inclusive conflict transformation and conflict-sensitivity in their curriculum, they can function as multipliers and prepare local political actors for constructive participation in platform processes initiated with civil society partners.

What we do

The programme works towards supporting and creating processes of constructive change, whereby relations, structures and cultures are transformed in such a way that conflict – inherent to any society – is dealt with in nonviolent ways. Working with civil society partners, LPI undertakes the following two activities in order to realize its objectives.

Sustained Dialogue

The Sustained Dialogue (SD) is a continuous process of dialogue where a diverse set of groups come together regularly to discuss an issue they feel is most divisive in a defined community. SD is a relationship based process founded on the assumption that if the stakeholders of a given conflict have positive experiences of collaborating across identity lines, then they will improve the necessary bond and trust between the stakeholders needed for dealing with more complex and controversial issues. LPI Ethiopia supports Sustained Dialogues among university students at two universities: Haramaya and Jimma University.

LPI, together with its partner Peace and Development Center (PDC) initiated an SD process in Addis Ababa University in 2008 where 150 University students participated in the process. In practical terms, students were divided into groups of 10 and each group had two moderators that will facilitate the dialogue. The groups discussed one issue that they feel is the most divisive on campus, on a bi-weekly basis during the whole academic year.

SD was carried out with LPI’s support for three years with positive results and evaluations from the participants. Considering the evident positive changes the process brought about in promoting tolerance and mutual respect among students in the University, the SD process at AAU was then adopted, fully owned and is currently run by the University itself.

The first ever randomised field trial of a dialogue programme was supported by LPI in 2009-10 716 university students, from Addis Ababa University (AAU) participated in the study. The study found that Sustained Dialogue (SD) can decrease mistrust and increase the level of trust between people of different ethnic backgrounds. The findings of the research were published in the Journal of Peace Research and can be accessed here.

Currently, LPI and PDC have introduced SD in Haramaya University in eastern Ethiopia, and Jimma University in South Western Ethiopia. LPI and PDC have been implementing SD in Haramaya University since April 2013 and 300 students were involved in the project. Since March 2014, implementation of the SD in Jimma University has begun. Like in Haramaya University 300 students will be involved and at the request of the University, LPI and its partner PDC are setting the ground for adding a new dimension to SD in JU where faculty and administrative staff will be part of the SD.

Capacity-building and organizational development support to partners

LPI provides technical, organizational and some financial support to partners in Ethiopia. From support on peacebuilding research and analysis to organizational support in programme monitoring and evaluation, LPI seeks to strengthen the capacity of local peacebuilding actors.

Previously, LPI has accompanied the Inter-Religious Council of Ethiopia in undertaking joint organizational capacity assessment. Currently, Peace and Development Center – the only local NGO authorized to work on peacebuilding Ethiopia— is LPI’s key civil society partner. LPI provides capacity building to PDC in financial and grant management, project cycle/results-based management and accompaniment of its activities.

Peace Research and Analysis

LPI also supports research and analysis on peacebuilding and related themes in Ethiopia. Research plays an essential role in LPI’s conflict transformation approach, both as a precondition for understanding the context of engagement and as a means for conflict transformation. As such, LPI supports peacebuilding processes by introducing new methodologies for conducting innovative, high-quality research that helps the formulation of recommendations and options to relevant stakeholders. In addition to that, LPI’s research support results in the dissemination of knowledge and academic support.

Examples to date include supporting PDC to research and publish a book on traditional mechanisms for conflict resolution in five selected regions of Ethiopia in 2008. In 2009 following the success of this book, PDC commissioned research for a second publication entitled “Traditional Mechanisms for Conflict Resolution in Tigray” which will be published soon

Support to peace education and curriculum design

Since 2009, LPI has been providing support to universities on peace education and peace studies curriculum development. Past engagement this regard include support to Addis Ababa University Department for Political Science and International Relations with on-site support through secondment of LPI staff member, as well as support to Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) in curriculum development for PhD and MA peace and conflict courses. LPI aspires to scale up its peace education and curriculum support to universities in order to initiate a nation-wide peace education curriculum.

As of 2014, LPI and Jimma University are collaborating to establish a Peace and Development Centre at Jimma University and to introduce Peace Education Curriculum as a pilot. The Centre will deliver short term and long term diploma and degree courses in conflict and peacebuilding while the peace education curriculum has a potential to be replicated nation-wide.

Success stories

  • LPI Ethiopia and PDC agree to expand SD in Haramaya University from 300 participants to 600. Additionally, there is agreement to include faculty and staff in the SD process in Jimma University and preparations are underway to launch this process with inclusion of faculty and staff in the 2014/15 academic year.
  • In an effort to promote cross-fertilization between CSOs and academia, LPI has supported and facilitated partnership between Haramay and Jimma Universities, and PDC. The partnership has translated to the designing and implementation of conflict transformation research and activities such as SD in the universities.

How you can participate

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