March 10, 2013 - From the 11th – 16th February 2013, 75 participants from IAS and partner organizations across Africa gathered in Arusha, Tanzania for the second annual Partner Network Conference. The topic was advocacy and networking - challenging and equipping civil society organizations to become better agents of transformation in local communities.
Participants came from different backgrounds and countries, ranging from South Sudan, Tanzania, Kenya and Uganda to Chad, Somalia and Nigeria. Each came with a different history but all came with a common purpose – to explore how they could move toward their role as advocates for change. For some, this was a natural transition, one they had already started on, while for many others, this was new territory to be explored. As the week progressed, common ground was found, in exploring not only the how, but also the why.
It is safe to say that the 2013 Partner Network Conference was only the beginning of a long journey. One participant described it as “life changing”, another as “an eye opener to what the church can do in promoting and advocating for civil rights”. To another participant, what stood out was “the importance of networking, because more voices are much [more] heard than one”. Many also commented on the valuable exchange between partners, and the topics discussed during afternoon skills workshops (smaller group workshops facilitated mainly by the participants themselves in their areas of expertise).
Regardless of what was taken away from the conference, the truth is that the hardest job is yet to come; putting the knowledge into action, and this will be one of IAS’ and the partners key tasks throughout the coming year. One thing, however, seems certain – those who were there, left with a lot of passion, and even though it may be spread across the continent, the IAS Partner Network stands in solidarity, and will walk this journey together.
Information about the 2013 Partner Network Conference and other activities, including the follow up activities throughout the coming year, will be posted on the IAS Partner Network webpage, currently under development (www.iaspartner.net).
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Kenyans equipped to handle conflict at presidential election
February 26, 2013 - Kenya is going to elect a new president March 4 2013. Last presidential election erupted in an extensive conflict between different tribes. 3.000 people were killed, and more than 300.000 peiople displaced. Will it occur again? Not if it is up to the local population around the city of Nakuru, which were the epicenter of the tribal conflict. They have participated in a peace- and reconciliation project with International Aid Services (IAS) and its partner FPFK since the last conflict.
A report from the organization shows that both women, youth and local leaders are currently involved in peace activities to at degree that social cohesion and sustainable peace is now possible.
The women can now go to the market place and buy food without any tension or fear. They have now received training in conflict resolution, so that they can mediate in household quarrels and fighting in the streets and conflicts evolving around water points. Women now meet and work with tree nurseries, kitchen gardens and savings clubs, and friendships are established across tribal boundaries.
Local authorities have received practical tools in trauma counselling and conflict resolution, and this has made their jobs a lot easier, they say.
At the last presidential election it was often the youth who went about plundering, killing and setting houses on fire. Now they also have received training in peace and reconciliation. Youth groups advocate for peace through social activities and inclusive happenings like “magnetic theatre” where they go to a public place, stage a fight, and hereafter involve the gathered crowd in solving the situation. The youth also invite local politicians to a peace bench in their local church compound, where they initiate a dialogue on what the young people’s political priorities are and thus teaching the youth to discuss politics rather than fight.
Together with reports of reconciliation between old neighbours, different tribes in a certain areas etc. there is hope that the presidential election on and after March 4th will proceed peacefully.
IAS will be in the area after the election together with its local partners and follow up on situations that may occur. Right now the organization is applying for support, so that a more extensive peace and reconciliation project will teach even more people to live together in peace and harmony.
Watch this movie clip where some representatives of the local population shares insight on the reconciliation work.
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Transforming people – One community at a time
November 30, 2012 - The community of Marimanti in Tharaka District tells a success story. Tharaka is one of the districts in the Semi-Arid area of Eastern Kenya. Having realized that despite the climatic conditions the area could become agriculturally productive by harnessing the waters of Kathita River, Manyirani Farmers Self Help Group (MFSHG) embarked on an irrigation project in partnership with International Aid Services (IAS).
Picture: Time to collect - Food Basket Project Officer (Ms. Susan Kiambi) with the Farmer (Mr. Julius Kiboro) with the bananas at the farm.
The transformation of the community can be seen already. Even with the second phase of the project yet to be completed, the indicators from the completed phase one are very encouraging. The irrigation project, funded by Swedish Mission Council (SMC), Linas Matkasse, Erikshjälpen and Mockfjärd Fönster, Läkarmissionen, and the Government of Kenya’s Constituency Development Fund (CDF) among others, is transforming lives.
A very encouraging story from this transformation is portrayed by a farmer (Julius Kiboro) utilizing the phase one irrigation, who now supplies bananas every month to a Food Basket Project (funded by Linas Matkasse), which supports very poor and vulnerable households with critically essential nutritional food supplies. This is what transformation of a society should be like!