Community Conflict Management in Southern Somalia

Community Conflict Management in Southern Somalia

This story is part of Cooperation Canada’s Triple Nexus Spotlight Series  


In 2020 Development and Peace – Caritas Canada, in partnership with Trócaire, initiated a three-year project to support vulnerable communities, particularly women, in Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) camps and host communities. The project, titled ‘Improving Food Security for Vulnerable IDP and Host Communities,’ aimed to establish sustainable food systems through agroecology. It focused on empowering women by equipping them with farm input, including access to land, and promoting resilient alternative livelihood opportunities, as well as community-based natural resource management. Over 2,118 (1,066 females and 1,052 males) from Luuq District in Gedo Region of Southern Somalia were reached through the intervention. 

Khadijo Hassan Duur Host Community

Project beneficiary harvesting on a farm provided to her to farm. Photo: CeRID

Fadhumo a 32-year-old mother of eight children, was provided with agricultural training based on sustainable farming practices, seeds, farming tools and a piece of land to grow crops. On average, Fadumo earned an income of USD 300 after every harvest that allowed her to pay USD 16 per month in school fees for her four sons who attend a local madrasa, and look after 14 members of her extended family. She saved enough money to access a loan and opened a shop. The saving groups also improved women’s confidence, engagement in decision making, and the building of a social network that they can rely upon 

Somalia, a fragile nation, has endured prolonged conflicts, climatic challenges like droughts and floods, food insecurity, inter-clan conflicts, and limited access to essential services. By mid-2023, over 1.4 million Somalis had been internally displaced due to these factors, with more than 8.25 million people urgently needing humanitarian aid. Furthermore, over 3.7 million people in Somalia are currently experiencing high acute food insecurity.

A-three-day old group of the newly IDP at the Kahare camp; they had hopes of receiving humanitarian assistance. Photo: Trócaire

A-three-day old group of the newly IDP at the Kahare camp; they had hopes of receiving humanitarian assistance. Photo: Trócaire

This number is expected to rise to 4.3 million people between October and December 2023, including 1.5 million malnourished children, with 330,630 of them being severely malnourished from August 2023 to July. Insecurity and inter-clan clashes disrupt peace, economic development, access to basic services, and psychosocial well-being. This disproportionately affects women, children, the elderly, people with disabilities, and minority groups. The lack of livelihood resources has compromised household food consumption, compelling these populations to relocate from their homes to internally displaced persons (IDP) camps over 20 km away, seeking basic needs and services.  

“The loud sounds of gunfire were deeply traumatic; some of our neighbours lost family members. Our land was taken away. We were overwhelmed by fear and left with no means of survival. So, we gathered whatever we could and left our home of over 10 years to Dollow. After a twelve-day journey on a donkey cart, non-stop, we arrived safely. Upon our arrival, we were warmly welcomed by the camp leaders, who provided us with shelter,” recounted Hawa.  

Hawa and her family are among the many people who had to relocate to Gedo in search of a better and more secure life after their livelihoods were disrupted by an inter-group conflict. In this context, the triple nexus approach is crucial to tackling systemic inequalities. This approach not only connects short-term relief to lasting social progress but also fosters peaceful environments, enabling the full realization of human rights. 

A community member from Boyle community participating in the DRR mapping exercise in Luuq District. Photo: CeRID

A community member from Boyle community participating in the DRR mapping exercise in Luuq District. Photo: CeRID

Trócaire uses a conflict-sensitive approach that engages with communities for feedback and information sharing around local interventions. Its programmes are integrated not only from a thematic point of view, but also jointly targets both host communities and IDPs to promote social cohesion. Trócaire works alongside communities to establish committees that play critical roles in conflict resolution. For instance, within the resilience programme, farmers established committees to aid in managing the farm and resolving farm conflicts. Collectively, they’ve set farm rules and plans, for example, through the establishment of watering schedules for each group as well as penalties for those who don’t respect these guidelines. This has promoted clear expectations for each farmer, equitable sharing of resources, and smooth running of the shared farm. In parallel, Water Management Committees (WMC), Community Education Committees (CEC), and Village Health Committees (VHCs) have played an active role in addressing resource-based conflicts. For example, locally led and formed WMC oversees the management of scarce water resources by ensuring local water systems are functional and promoting sustainable and fair access to water. These committees have coexisted and supported each other, where the WMC’s management of water resources has been supported by the CEC’s efforts to engage with both local and IDP communities to raise funds for school development.  

Trócaire has supported the formation of other community-based committees (named, ‘community peace champions’), including Natural Resource Management and Disaster Risk Reduction committees. These work on promoting peaceful coexistence among their communities, disaster risk reduction and natural resource management to protect the environment, sustainable exploitation of resources and reduction of climate related shocks and conflict. The committee members are comprised of people from different socioeconomic strata of the community who have received training. In turn, these individuals represent the voices of the community they serve, identifying priorities through consultations that are partly supported by Trócaire.  

These committees collaborate closely with community members, institutions, and local leaders that fully recognize and acknowledge their presence and work in fostering peaceful coexistence. They work within their respective communities and are the first point of contact when conflicts arise. For example, at the negotiation stage between the conflicting parties, a delegation of community elders and local leaders is convened.  

The elders have not only recognized but also commended efforts made to promote peace. Following a sensitization session, community leaders expressed their sentiments, emphasizing the paramount importance of peace.  

 “Without peace, nothing can be achieved, blacksmiths cannot forge metals, people dare not light fire for fear of attack, access to water sources becomes impossible and life itself becomes unstable,” one leader remarked. 

Another leader added, “In times of violence, no son is born, but instead we lose many young and productive men.”  

A peace building session in Gedo; aimed to sensitize community leaders on the importance of fostering peace. Photo: Mohamed, Trócaire

A peace building session in Gedo; aimed to sensitize community leaders on the importance of fostering peace. Photo: Mohamed, Trócaire

Trócaire recognizes that gains made through community-level peacebuilding are only sustainable if these are hinged upon community ownership. As such, collaboration and coordination with local institutions, District Health Boards, IDP leaders, local authorities, and government officials are central to the design of Trócaire’s action and programmes. These collaborations not only ensure conflict management in communities, but also provide a conducive environment for the implementation of the Humanitarian Development Plan (HDP) and ensure communities, both host and IDPs, can enjoy a broad range of rights. 

This piece was co-written by Maurine Akinyi, Programme Support Officer, Trócaire Somalia and Dominique Godbout, Humanitarian Program Officer, Development and Peace-Caritas Canada.

The Importance of Social Cohesion in Fragile Contexts: Lessons from an Interfaith Network in Syria

The Importance of Social Cohesion in Fragile Contexts: Lessons from an Interfaith Network in Syria

This story is part of Cooperation Canada’s Triple Nexus Spotlight Series. It was initially posted on October 30, 2014 ( 


In any situation of crisis or conflict, the provision of humanitarian assistance aims to address basic needs related to the subsistence of those most deeply impacted. Responding to needs related to food security, water, sanitation, hygiene, and shelter involves technical considerations requiring immediate attention. However, the provision of humanitarian assistance also provides an opportunity to engage affected communities in less obvious, but equally critical, strategic work aimed at the preservation and building of social cohesion. These represent strategic situations wherein the triple nexus approach can be implemented, bringing together humanitarian, development, and peace programming.  

Through grassroots initiatives that foster positive relationships within communities threatened by the divisive factors of sectarianism, solidarity and trust can be achieved and sustained in the midst of open conflict. This conviction lies at the center of the philosophy of Mennonite Central Committee partner, the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD) as it approaches its work in providing humanitarian assistance with a peace lens to internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Syria. 

Although the Syrian crisis has spared few as it has moved from village to village, certain areas have remained relative safe havens for those forced to flee their homes as the result of intense and often indiscriminate violence. The Qalamoun region, straddling the highway from Damascus to Homs in central Syria, is one such area. The diverse composition of the region provides a distinctive context to observe the tactical practice of distributing humanitarian assistance in a multi-faith environment where villages are often segregated by faith groups.  

While Syrian communities are long known for their hospitality, host community tensions exist in Qalamoun, as they do across Syria, especially when resources are scarce. Despite these challenges, the people of Qalamoun were able to respond to those seeking refuge from the intense violence in Aleppo, Homs and Damascus. In addition to welcoming displaced families into their shops, homes, and schools, the people of Qalamoun immediately began organizing efforts to provide food and hygiene items to their new guests. As more IDPs arrived, the need for greater humanitarian support became evident. FDCD, working closely with its contacts in the Qalamoun region, formed a local interfaith network of distributors and coordinators to respond to the crisis. 

The purposeful inclusion of both Christian and Muslim partners in this process proved to advance the peace dimension of the Nexus approach employed by FDCD. Beyond the successful distribution of in-kind assistance to displaced families, this network produced new forms of trust and cooperation between faith groups.  

This was further evident in the community’s response to the Syrian opposition’s attempt at controlling the region, including the town of Sadad, seizing vehicles and limiting local residents’ ability to evacuate the area. Responding to this, FDCD’s interfaith network quickly coordinated an effort to provide transportation. When the presence of anti-government forces in the area caused the movement of non-Muslims to be risky and greatly hindered, the Muslim communities of Qalamoun utilized their own vehicles to facilitate the safe evacuation of members of the Christian community to other villages in the area. In this regard, the deep partnership facilitated through the organization and distribution of humanitarian assistance in Qalamoun proved to be invaluable in the protection of the Christian community during this period of persecution and crisis. 

While the Battle of Qalamoun was undoubtedly destructive, the experience of FDCD shows how an interfaith network made important contributions in mitigating the impacts of armed conflict. As shown above, the strategic benefits of its deliberate approach to humanitarian distribution are clear, supported by an added peace lens centered on interfaith social cohesion.  

A historically diverse community in Qalamoun continues, to this day, to provide an example for how Muslims and Christians can work to navigate the ongoing tensions between host and displaced communities within the context of the ongoing Syrian conflict. As many communities in Syria fall prey to the vicious cycles of hate, exclusion, and persecution, the experience of FDCD attests to the value of localized interfaith approaches to peace and humanitarianism. Although we cannot predict when the Syrian crisis will end, the preservation of new forms of social cohesion resulting from this interfaith network will be crucial in the country’s early recovery and post-conflict development. These continued relationships will become central in preventing the spread of hate and sectarianism, working together to achieve mutual understanding, respect, coexistence and dialogue. 


Lessons learned, from MCC:  

  • With increased attention to a Triple Nexus approach, strategic planning for this is needed in the program design phase.  
    • It is an oversimplification to assume that, for example, a few peacebuilding workshops will achieve this goal. There is a need to think through how to contribute to social cohesion and early recovery/development over the long term and how to incorporate that into planning. 
  • Resources are needed before project implementation to conduct proper conflict analysis/mapping.  
    • There is always a danger of humanitarian aid being used/diverted to align with local/regional political goals 
    • NGOs must be aware of these dynamics as they implement large humanitarian projects. 
  • There is a need for flexible funding by donors.  
    • While institutional donors are encouraging a Triple Nexus approach, most funding is still restricted to certain activities (i.e., food security). With limited or restricted resources, NGOs can have a hard time knowing how to incorporate social cohesion and development programing, especially where there are limited resources for other areas that donors want to prioritize – gender, protection, capacity building, etc.  
  • There is a need for donors to think long term.  
    • Most institutional funding is short term, but it is unrealistic to adopt a Triple Nexus approach with short term funding. Changes in social cohesion or shifts from humanitarian aid to early recovery/development involve long term thinking.  


Lessons learned, from FDCD: 

  • For sustainable peace to be maintained resources should be shared without discrimination and considerations for the host community’s needs should also be prioritized. This case shows that when treated equally, Christians and Muslims recognize each other’s dignity 
  • When local and international organizations come together, such as MCC and FDCD, to implement Triple Nexus within communities facing conflict in Syria, this can support the enabling of harmony, trust building, and reconciliation to its people after years of war and conflict. 


This piece was first published in 2014 in MCC’s quarterly publication, Intersections, and authored by Riad Jarjour, the General Secretary of the Arab Group for Muslim-Christian Dialogue and president of the Forum for Development, Culture and Dialogue (FDCD), based in Lebanon and Andrew Long-Higgins, a former Intern at FDCD. This piece was updated for Cooperation Canada in 2023 by Garry Mayhew. 

Spotlight on Triple Nexus in Practice – Humanitarian, Development & Peace

Spotlight on Triple Nexus in Practice – Humanitarian, Development & Peace

Canadian civil society organizations (CSOs) and Global Affairs Canada (GAC) are increasingly interested in working on the Triple Nexus, or programming across humanitarian-development-peace pillars.

With this in mind, Cooperation Canada has been working on a series of articles on the Triple Nexus, aimed at highlighting what works and what doesn’t in the field initiatives undertaken by its members, as well as some of the potential challenges and opportunities in expanding Triple Nexus programming.

Learn more about the Triple Nexus in practice by reading these stories from the field.

“There Is No Development Without Peace”: Perspectives from Eastern Congo 

“There Is No Development Without Peace”: Perspectives from Eastern Congo 

This story is part of Cooperation Canada’s Triple Nexus Spotlight Series 


The village of Shasha, a little to the west of Goma, Democratic Republic of the Congo, illustrates well the integration of humanitarian, development, and peace work. The rich volcanic soils in this area are densely settled by small-scale farmers who, in recent years, have been joined by thousands of internally displaced people (IDPs) fleeing combat zones. The arrival of IDPs creates the potential for more conflict as they seek out plots of land to live on and support their families. Local NGOs are implementing Triple Nexus projects to meet humanitarian needs (short-term food assistance), development needs (land for IDPs to grow food) and to prevent conflict between IDPs and host communities. This is one of the projects I visited in January 2023, alongside colleagues from the Mennonite Central Committee (MCC). Peace programming is central to MCC’s work, and sometimes included in the Canadian Foodgrains Bank’s work.   

In the DRC, the conflict is highly visible and ever-shifting, with dozens of armed groups involved (Congolese military, armed groups supported by foreign actors, Congolese who have armed themselves to defend their resources, and now peacekeepers from East Africa and the UN) and daily reports of troop movements and attacks in rural areas. Much of the conflict is rooted in competition for minerals, with some groups wanting to exploit the minerals and others protecting their land. Eastern Congo is rich in several critical minerals in high demand by green economy companies. There are some local artisanal miners, but much of the mining industry is run by foreign companies, including Canadian companies, who have a mixed record of abiding by Congolese laws and contributing to development outside the mines themselves.   

Some of the partners we met are working to reduce these types of armed conflict, contributing to peace at a societal level, or what is often called “big P peace”. A Congolese partner works directly with armed groups, encouraging their members to disarm, while also helping those who disarm to find livelihood activities and communities that will accept them.  

All partners are working toward “little P peace” or reducing interpersonal conflict. These efforts are often integrated into projects with humanitarian or development goals or both. This can look like providing a water source for a community garden, and a second water source for the wider community who are not members of the garden group. In some cases, working on “little P” involves organizing workshops or ongoing clubs that help people manage interpersonal conflict, recover from past trauma, or learn mediation skills. While there are effective tools to measure the impact of these “small P” activities at a community level, it’s not clear to what degree they contribute toward “big P peace” across society.   

From the partners we visited, there were some agreed messages about the triple nexus. We heard from many partners and project participants that “there is no development without peace” i.e., peace and development are intertwined, and there are synergies in working on both together. Our partners have been doing Nexus work all along, often with different funding streams. When asked, they seemed agnostic about whether funding should come from a single source or more. They have the capacity and experience to deliver programming that responds to the needs of the moment. They did ask that different donors recognize this diversity of programming and try to align reporting requirements.   

We also heard that peace programming can be inexpensive (compared to other types of programming). In many cases, it can be incorporated into humanitarian or development projects without much additional cost, but it adds significant value to the project by reducing the risk of conflict that might undermine the project’s gains.   

The MCC partners we met welcomed our questions and were pleased to know that Canada (GAC and CSOs) is looking more closely at nexus work. It may be a new area of work for us, but not for them. With considerable Nexus programming experience already, partners such as these can help us learn about and improve Nexus programming. 

EQUITAS Promotes the Contribution of Black People to the Progression of Human Rights

For Black History Month, Equitas will highlight the work of various Black people who have contributed to the progression of human rights and whose work has mainly contributed to the advancement of Black rights, equality, and inclusion in Canadian communities.    

Over the next few weeks, you will get to know Darley, Marie, Monique and Destin, four courageous individuals passionate about human rights. Keep an eye on Equitas’ social media accounts for more details.


How KAIROS’ Partners are Responding to the Double Pandemic

How KAIROS’ Partners are Responding to the Double Pandemic

Through its Women of Courage: Women, Peace and Security program, KAIROS has been working very closely with partners to learn more about the impacts of COVID-19 on their work and their responses to these challenges. As women peacebuilders in protracted conflicts, these partners are no strangers to crises and, as such, have modeled resilient, creative and courageous approaches that serve as excellent examples for us all.

In addition to dealing with public health concerns and measures, partners are also responding to what has been termed the “shadow pandemic” or the “double pandemic,” terms that refer to the substantial increase in gender-based and domestic violence that has resulted from the pandemic and associated lockdowns. The pandemic is having this effect all over the world, including in Canada where gender-based violence and domestic abuse rates are increasing by an estimated 20 and 30 per cent in parts of the country. However, countries with militaristic responses to the crisis and autocratic and repressive governance styles have only exacerbated violence and the need for psychosocial and legal support for women in all parts of the world.

Despite the challenges posed by physical distancing requirements, KAIROS’ partners have responded to the crisis to support women experiencing violence in their communities. The Organización Femenina Popular (OFP) in Colombia, for example, has used social media to form online support groups for women. They are providing psychosocial services online and via phone to provide much-needed support to women who are facing gender-based violence or domestic abuse. Similarly, Wi’am: Palestinian Centre for Conflict Transformation in the West Bank is responding to the increase in gender-based violence with conflict mediation and transformation initiatives. The Centre also plans to hire two psychologists and has set up a 24-hour hotline to provide frontline support to women and others experiencing gender-based violence.

KAIROS’ partners have also been adapting workshops and training for women leaders to respond to COVID-19 in their communities. This training includes equipping leaders with tools and resources to respond to the psychosocial impacts of the pandemic and the increase in gender-based violence.

Gender-based violence and domestic violence were a global pandemic long before COVID-19. However, around the world, the protective measures put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19 are putting women at an increased risk. KAIROS’ partners have been on the frontline of the response in their communities to ensure that while public health measures are followed, those who are the most at risk have the support they need as they seek to protect themselves and their families from the double pandemic.

Héritiers de la Justice in Democratic Republic of Congo is continuing with the production and hosting of the local weekly radio program “Tuitete Haki,” Swahili for rights, pivoting to address the COVID-19 pandemic public health directives and raise awareness about gender-based violence. The South Sudan Council of Churches’ radio talk shows discuss COVID-19, gender justice, trauma healing as well as peace messaging.

As COVID-19 completely transforms the world, we cannot lose sight of the world’s most vulnerable. Women peacebuilders are leading a feminist response that addresses the disproportionate impacts of this global crisis on women and girls and brings this pandemic of violence out of the shadows. We have much to learn from them. Their strong networks and relations with women community leaders and groups, as well as their experience in psychosocial support and trauma healing, allow them to reach marginalized women and ensure their voices and concerns are heard even in the context of the COVID-19 storm.

Women peacebuilders provide us with a glimmer of hope – a way forward when the world emerges from this crisis, one that is based on the wellbeing, health, safely and peace for all.

To read more about KAIROS’ partners’ response you can read their blog here.

Photo: South Sudan Council of Churches meets with women and youth to raise awareness about gender-based violence, domestic violence and teen pregnancies during COVID-19 lockdown.