#National News

PHTG: Creating safe spaces for community dialogue on peace,inclusion

Mar 25, 2021, 11:24 AM

Peace Hub - The Gambia (PHTG), a peacebuilding and social cohesion organisation last week held a Community Dialogue on Peace in communities in the Upper River, Central River and the North Bank Regions respectively. 

The UN Peace-building Fund through UNFPA-The Gambia funded the programme.The Community Dialogue on Peace and Inclusion, which targets women, young people and marginalised groups, is part of the organization’s activities to be implemented under the UNFPA The Gambia Youth Programming for the year 2021. 


The activity, is aimed at creating a safe space for members of each of the communities, thus providing an opportunity to discuss underlying root causes of conflict, conflict prevention mechanisms, and respect for diversity, tolerance, inclusion, and sustainable peace.


Bakary Sonko, national programme coordinator PHTG, explained that they had very interesting discussions with the communities, during which they identified major causes of conflict among them.


“Some of them are related to resources, some deep-rooted social constructs and even politics. I must admit that it is important we have these conversations, across all generations in communities. We will eventually find solutions to most of our problems, build and sustain peaceful societies.” Sonko stated.


The Gambia, he observed, has been grappling with numerous potential conflict issues, particularly post 2016. To that end, he indicated that it was important they find a lasting solution.


Sonkohowever lamented that they cannot do this without a substantial understanding of the major threats to their peace. 


“Thus, this is why engagements like these become worthwhile. They provide us with the opportunity to rethink our strategies of managing conflict”.


Participants in all the regions acknowledged that there exist complex issues in their respective communities that could spark violent conflict. In this connection, he said what is impressive is that all appreciated the importance of building inclusive, tolerant, and peaceful societies for development.


Wuday Sanneh, a member of Song Kunda Young Female Network underscored that peace is the bedrock of all endeavours to advance society.


“Our communities and country at large are no exception to this reality. To make our communities peaceful, rights and dignity of all must be guaranteed and respected.”


Traditionally, many factors such as joking relations and inter-marriagesstrengthen bonds among members of communities in the country. This, she observed, made The Gambia famous and enviable for its long stability and peace in the sub-region and beyond. 


Lamin Sainey Sonko, Alkalo of Katamina said The Gambia has been a champion of peace and stability in West Africa and beyond. This, he added, is a result of the sacrifices of our forebearers. “For us to maintain this, we need to dialogue more, respect each other, appreciate our differences and see ourselves as Gambians than any other classification, and ensure equality.”


Sonko recalled that the 4th December Presidential Election in The Gambia will be a watershed moment in the country's political history.  “It is the first since the country's democratic transition in 2016”. 


“Misinformation, fake news and use of vulgar language by political party supporters against opponents especially on social media are scary. This attitude is a threat to our peace and security and serves no one’s interest. We can politic while we remain respectful and tolerant”, says Yusupha Jobe of Katamina.


The activity, which targeted four regions of the country, has directly reached over 160 people, the majority being women and young people.