Fighting COVID-19, Building Peace – a civil society perspective. What Local Peacebuilders Say about COVID-19, Civic Space, Fragility and Drivers of Conflict

West-Africa East Africa,
Sierra Leone Liberia, Somalia, Yemen, Cameroon,

The Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS) is a global network of civil society organisations (CSOs) supporting peacebuilding efforts in fragile and conflict-affected settings, jointly striving for inclusive societies and sustainable peace. We operate in more than 25 fragile and conflict-affected countries.

Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Civil Society Platform for Peacebuilding and Statebuilding (CSPPS) has kept in close contact with the members of our network to learn about their individual circumstances, activities, challenges and accomplishments. The result is the report "Fighting COVID-19, Building Peace – a civil society perspective. What Local Peacebuilders say about COVID-19, Civic Space, Fragility and Drivers of Conflict". The present report builds on the initial statement we issued, which calls for a whole-of-society and conflict-sensitive approach to combating the pandemic and its effects. It ties together our outputs and various data accumulated over the past few months in order to provide a comprehensive outlook on the lived experiences of local peacebuilders as they face down COVID-19 and its consequences. It is essential that such front-line perspectives inform the policy and programming of all stakeholders of peace.

CSPPS has conducted two surveys, and has held in-depth interviews that are chronicled in our series of articles on local action against COVID-19. We have also collected further information through meetings of our CSPPS membership and our Executive Committee, as well as through regular exchanges between the CSPPS Secretariat and various members. 

The CSPPS report is divided into four sections. The first explores how the pandemic has affected civil society’s capacity to operate. It covers both practical matters, like the inability to visit communities in person, as well as the issue of shrinking civic space. The second section describes and analyses how local peacebuilders view the pandemic as occasioning violence and stimulating drivers of conflict. The third discusses the dearth of coordination between government and civil society, as the latter remains excluded from shaping most strategies, plans and measures deployed against COVID-19. The final section provides a short overview of the kinds of activities that CSOs have been undertaking during this period. The report concludes with reflections and recommendations to help our partners and other stakeholders of peace tackle the issues identified in the report.

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