Civil Society

  • Youth engagement — and empowerment — holds promise for strengthening community resilience to violent extremism

    Stop for a minute to think back to when you were a “youth” — say, when you were 19 years old — transitioning from adolescence into adulthood.

    • Did you have ideals and ideas that motivated you and peers and adult mentors who positively influenced you?
    • Did you have family who supported you and a community that you felt part of and in which you had a voice?
    • Did you have a sense of who you were and access to physical and psychological safe spaces where you could express your identity?

    If you answered yes, then you probably have a positive recollection of this period in your life. You were likely content with your trajectory into adulthood.

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  • Four major famines have taken place so far in 2017, which has renewed attention on the urgent need to address food security globally. However, food security involves much more than responding to famines, and it is closely linked to factors such as governance, which plays a significant role in fragile states and developing countries. FHI 360 held a Facebook Live discussion on how integrating governance, agriculture and food security can benefit food security programs. The conversation was moderated by Gregory Adams, Director of the Locus Coalition at FHI 360, with FHI 360 experts Joseph Sany, Technical Advisor, Peacebuilding and Conflict Mitigation, and Annette Brown, Director, Research and Evaluation Strategic Initiative.

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  • Understanding the relationships among food security, climate change and conflict

    Despite decades of investments to improve food security for the world’s poorest people, hunger and malnutrition are still problems for many. Indeed, a daunting food security crisis currently puts more than 20 million people at risk of starvation in just four countries: Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. In sub-Saharan Africa, an estimated 42 million children under the age of 5 will be malnourished by 2050, and 10 million additional children will be malnourished if climate change impacts continue unabated.

    This crisis calls for improvements in identifying, understanding and addressing the interlinked factors that result in broadscale food security crises. The cycle of resource degradation caused by climate change that leads to food insecurity, starvation and ongoing conflicts raises the question of whether climate change itself is a “threat multiplier” that increases the potential for conflict. Evidence suggests that the interplay between these sectors is critical to the emergence or development of many humanitarian crises. However, the complexity of these relationships and the role of climate change as a threat multiplier are less understood.

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  • Peaceful and inclusive societies

    A little more than a year ago, the world rallied around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a historic plan to improve the lives of people everywhere. This past year was a reminder of just how ambitious these goals are and how achieving them will test the commitment of the international community.

    The year 2016 turned out to be a time of political, economic and social upheaval — from Britain’s vote to leave the European Union and the U.S. election of a president vowing radical change to America’s domestic and foreign policies, to ongoing war and conflict in the Middle East and a global refugee crisis. We also witnessed extraordinary achievements, including a peace agreement that ended Colombia’s 50-year civil war and the discovery of a vaccine for Ebola — progress made possible by people working together for the common good.

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  • Strengthening civil society’s role in responding to violent extremism

    Preventing and countering violent extremism requires nothing short of an integrated, multifaceted, locally driven approach. FHI 360 has been working since 2008 with civil society groups in affected regions to prevent and respond to violent extremism. Recently, we discussed the lessons learned from our work at this year’s Trans-Saharan Counter-Terrorism Partnership conference. The following is what we shared.

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  • Armed conflict and education inequality: What do we know?

    What do Ethiopia, Nepal, Niger and the Philippines have in common? Each country had episodes of conflict in the 1990s, and each bucked the global trend of declining education inequalities in a subsequent time period. Researchers have long puzzled over the relationship between inequality and civil conflict: Do grievances over a lack of access to resources or social capital actually lead people to go to war? For some academics, the question is met with skepticism, as empirical research has often led to inconclusive results. Recent changes in the way inequality is conceptualized and measured have changed the way people think about this connection.

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  • Research points to the power of educational equity in reducing civil conflict

    Unequal educational opportunity often lies at the heart of deep inequities in economic productivity, social well-being and participation in democratic institutions. Key livelihood statistics show that across the globe, individuals with lower levels of education are more likely to earn less, have poorer health outcomes and are less likely to enter leadership positions. For this reason, efforts to improve equity must start with education.

    A soon-to-be released study, completed by the FHI 360 Education Policy and Data Center (EPDC) and commissioned by the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy Programme, indicates that ensuring equitable access to educational resources may be more than just a moral right: It may also contribute to reducing the likelihood of civil conflict.

    Using an innovative methodology that captures disparities in educational attainment among ethnic and religious groups, as well as among subnational regions within countries, we found that violent civil conflict is more likely in countries with high levels of disparity among groups. Preliminary results showed that the difference in the odds of conflict between highly unequal and more equal countries was large in magnitude and held true even after accounting for the countries’ differences in economic development, political systems, populations and income inequalities.

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  • Anticipating the impact of cutting-edge technology on democracy and development

    What might nongovernmental organizations, governments and world leaders have done differently if, fifteen years ago, they could have predicted the transformative effect that mobile phones and Internet access would have on the world’s poorest countries? What can we do now, if we look far enough down the road, to anticipate the next waves of revolutionary technology?

    Technology has brought us to the doorstep of a world once only imaginable. Google cars now drive themselves across California. An autonomously piloted drone can be purchased on Amazon.com. Computers are acting more and more like people. This year, one passed the Turing test, a measurement of a machine’s ability to mimic human behavior. There are working prototypes of spray-on skin and mind-controlled prosthetic limbs. A thousand robots can work together to complete a common task. Things are changing fast.

    These technologies will shape the future of the world and change development as we know it.

    Funders, governments, practitioners and technology leaders need to anticipate the impact of emerging innovations on democracy and human rights and plan accordingly. Technology can empower activists and dictators alike. To be prepared, we should start asking questions, such as: How will development and civic engagement change when citizens in the most remote parts of the world have access to the Internet? How might drone journalism provide safe, reliable access to conflict-affected parts of the world? How can wearable technology innovations like Google Glass make citizens freer or, conversely, be misused by governments to monitor and control citizens?

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  • Diverse functions of the INEE Minimum Standards in education in emergencies

    The 360° response by FHI 360 offers an integrated approach in addressing challenges to human development. Can you provide some examples of how this philosophy is implemented in your educational initiatives in post-conflict and fragile areas within Africa?

    FHI 360 works in multiple sectors, including education, health, civil society, peacebuilding, the environment, economic development and livelihoods. We believe in a context-sensitive and strengths-based approach. Education that is context specific really tries to address the challenges that exist by understanding linguistic, cultural, political, economic and historical factors that have affected the education system. Our 360° approach enables us to address these challenges by bringing together experts across sectors.

    In South Sudan, where sadly there has just been a major civil conflict, our education team will work very closely with our peacebuilding team to develop strategies for promoting reconciliation and building peace in the context of our education work. Another example is in northern Nigeria where a major challenge is to provide options to integrate modern education in Koranic schools, which many children attend, and to improve hygiene, water and sanitation in these schools.

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  • Peacebuilding through practice and partnership

    Why is the PEACE IQC significant?

    Through the PEACE IQC, USAID can draw upon experienced and trusted partners to respond to crisis and fragility and to develop a comprehensive program across sectors. Task orders issued under the PEACE IQC will ensure that USAID and its partners understand the causes of conflict, identify the best approaches for mitigating conflict, and gather learning and evidence to inform future programming against conflict and extremism.

    What is unique about the approach of FHI 360 and the PEACE Consortium?

    FHI 360’s PEACE Consortium, comprised of 18 member organizations, is uniquely able to assist in conflict-affected contexts because we bring an integrated approach to addressing the varied root causes of social and political tensions. With almost two decades experience, we have learned there is never a single driver of conflict, and we have developed the tools to identify the sources and then design cross-sectorial interventions that address the real needs on the ground. We offer an integrated model that encompasses experts working across 122 countries, with the ability to mobilize high-quality teams in quick response to crises.

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