"Transforming the Mind-sets for Youth Engagement in Crisis Prevention and Inclusive Peace Building in the Crisis Regions of Cameroon"
Cameroon’s Anglophone regions have been engulfed in crisis since 2016, and the consequences of this on-going civil strife have been enormous and cannot be over- emphasized. Several schools in these regions are still closed, access to several villages and towns, very risky and this has led to economic and social hardships on the people particularly affecting youth traders and farmers who made their living from small scale trading even with their farm products. As lack of economic opportunities in the selected communities increase, many young people have migrated into towns in search of greener pastures, which however have not been green, considering the general poverty situation in the country. Youths, women and girls most especially have been very much affected by this crisis. It is against this backdrop that Women in Alternative Action (WAA) Cameroon is partnering with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), to “Transform the Mind-sets for Youth Engagement in Crisis Prevention and Inclusive Peace building in the crisis regions of Cameroon”
The key problem this project wants to solve is the vulnerability of youth in the project’s conflict communities. Such communities are characterised by youth who have actively participated (some through abduction) in the ongoing armed conflicts, inculcated with a “gun culture” and radicalised. Most of these youth, remain traumatised, isolated in society, and perceived as perpetrators of violence by society. The majority of them have no sources of livelihood and feel frustrated, and ostracized. The situation makes them vulnerable to resort to acts of radicalisation and violent extremism. Female youth are disproportionately affected when radicalisation increases, as they tend to become victims of sexual violence, experience high levels of trauma and neglect, or become widows.
The project seeks to contribute to prevention of young adult re-radicalization (return to violence) in project conflict communities in North West of Cameroon. To reduce young adult re-radicalisation, the project plans to intervene with three approaches.
The first approach is to create a team of young adult peace champions who will lead in transforming the attitudes of fellow young adults in these conflict communities. The second approach is to provide the young adults groups with skills in income generating activities in the selected conflict communities. The third approach would be to support students who are likely to drop out of school due to the financial burdens imposed by the crises, with school needs that permit them to return to school. There will be psychosocial and trauma healing and reconciliation support to both victims and ex-perpetrators of the war, by organising community trauma healing sessions. Transfer of knowledge and local ownership of the trauma healing process will be ascertained through Organizing specialized technical training and support for community psychosocial caregivers on trauma healing and reconciliation.
The project’s key outcome is that young people are resilient against social and political violence calls and that peace and stability returns in the selected project zones of the North West region where violence is occurring.
By addressing the specific income needs of vulnerable groups of youth at risk of joining armed groups, the project will contribute to conflict management by creating cohesion and community trust rebuilding while enhancing youth participation in conflict management/ transformation process. The project will seek to complement government efforts to create cohesion and stability, which is necessary for community development, with the hope to reduce the high rate of failure of government initiatives that have been criticised for their top-down approach without addressing the specific needs of vulnerable groups of youth. It will also create a pathway for government to address key drivers of violence among youth nationally, through reinforcing and strengthening its youth development infrastructures such as PAJERE-U, PIAPSI