February is peace and conflict resolution month in the Rotary calendar.
Violence is sadly a part of the human condition but so too is peace and conflict resolution. Finding practical, pragmatic, innovative workable solutions to the former through the latter is one of the pressing issues of our times. What follows are ten (10) innovative examples of solutions that are on the ground and working. Some of them are government lead, while others are private sector lead and still others are civil society lead, however what unites them all is that they all require partnership and co-operation and 'the will to do it.'
Not to be left out of this innovation the Rotary Club of St. Andrew in an effort to making a contribution in tackling this issue in Jamaica has undertaken as its major project for the 2017/18 year a peace garden in the Hope Botanical Gardens. The project at this time is in the early stages of implementation.
Please scroll down, read, click on the buttons for more information and be inspired and take action to improve peace and conflict resolution.
Green Dot trains students to be proactive bystanders in order to prevent assault and sexual violence. Trainers go into schools and summarise key themes in a one-hour speech, covering topics such as recognising risk, understanding the factors that can prevent you from intervening, and what a realistic intervention looks like. The core content, delivered to students identified as influential in their peer groups, is delivered over five one-hour workshops. By empowering influential class members, Green Dot attempts to shift the culture around sexual violence on campus.
The Good School Toolkit is a booklet outlining a six-stage process to reduce violence in schools. Suggested activities include school-wide assemblies on violence prevention, student-teacher discussion groups, and changes to school administrations. The toolkit works in three areas to reduce violence: changing the student-teacher relationship, creating opportunities for students to participate in the running and maintenance of their school, and promoting more transparent and accountable school administrations.
The Risk Terrain Modelling Diagnostics Utility (RTMDx), developed by professors at Rutgers’ Center on Public Security, allows police forces to more accurately predict where crime will take place, then allocate officers accordingly. Users first upload a digital map of the area they wish to study in a shapefile. (Shapefiles bring together multiple file types, storing different types of geographical data, such as building types and street features, in a single location.) After uploading a map, users log the locations of past incidents of crime. Potential buildings or street features identified as hotspots - such as banks, liquor stores or streets frequented by gangs - become visible. The RTMDx software produces a table listing the risk values of each street feature, revealing their correlation with a type of criminal behaviour. The map displays the parts of the city where crime is most likely to take place. RTM can also be used to account for differences between crime rates at different times in the day. For example, the effect of a bar on crime will be very different in the morning to the evening. As such, different maps can be produced for police operating on different shifts.
CCR convenes a series of workshops to foster the “Ujasiri” mindset—a Kiswahili term for the courage and bravery that leads one to act in the face of oppression. Workshops teach people how they can become child protectors and work with local government officials and councillors to reinforce the centrality of women and children to policy. The Councillor Connect service then allows residents to communicate their priorities directly to councillors via a SMS service.
PLH is a 12-step parenting curriculum that aims to reduce violence against children. In the Philippines, the PLH pilot targets parents of two- to six-year-olds. Trained instructors deliver the program in group classes which include role-playing, homework assignments and reflection on parenting styles. The Filipino program is nested in the Department of Social Work and Development’s conditional cash transfer program. In order to receive payments, parents must attend these classes.
Portland pushed drugs, crime and gangs out of a public park by putting on exercise classes, concerts and other activities designed to attract families. Cypress Equities, which owns a local mall, provided funding for a public-private partnership to revitalise the area. The partners hired Biederman Redevelopment Ventures to develop programming like yoga and Zumba classes, a free library, ping pong, concerts, café tables and a communal piano. PP&R contributed urban park specialists to design activities as well as staff to run them.
Los Angeles has reduced endemic gang-related violence by engaging millions of residents and creating thousands of jobs for at-risk youth. The city has reclaimed parks formerly controlled by gangs, collected 14,442 guns and reduced gang-related crimes by 34%. The project has reduced gang crime by buying back guns in exchange for grocery vouchers and organising summer family events in parks where gang members previously congregated. Young people at risk of becoming involved with gangs are hired to work at the family events, and paid in part with funding from foundations and businesses like Coca-Cola and Disney. The organisation has also fostered greater cooperation between the police and members of the community.
Social enterprise trains Nigeria’s online scammers as tech entrepreneurs. Paradigm Initiative’s 10-week training program only accepts applicants with high potential and a passion for technology who lack the financial means to learn tech capacities on their own. The students are trained in critical skills, such as coding and using computer programs like Excel, as well as how to manage money and interview for jobs. Paradigm Initiative helps the students find high-profile internships with partners like the US Embassy, Afrinvest and DHL. The social enterprise has five offices across Nigeria, in Aba, Ajegunle, Kano, Yaba and the capital Abuja. Paradigm Initiative also trains non-profits and schools in digital rights and security, and writes reports on Internet freedom throughout Africa.
Edmonton has brought together a 22-person task force of public officials, businesspeople, charity bosses, doctors and religious leaders to bring all their various resources to bear on ending poverty. It incentivises the private sector to participate by emphasising that it stands to gain economically. To win widespread community backing, the task force has solicited some 400 recommended actions, 35 of which have been selected as priorities.
Preventing violence means changing the norms that allow violent behaviours to flourish. Uzikwasa takes a two-pronged approach: a series of interactive leadership programs shift local leaders towards more equitable, rights-based and gender-responsive forms of governance, while a multimedia campaign disseminates the message across Pangani. The media program live broadcasts training sessions and creates programming with local partners, including feature films which are screened across the district. Interactive discussion sessions follow to engage the community to reflect on the harmful norms that are present in their own homes and communities.