Original Research

Efficacy of informal peace committees to peacebuilding: Evidence from Seke district, Zimbabwe

Norman Chivasa
African Evaluation Journal | Vol 5, No 2 | a241 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.4102/aej.v5i2.241 | © 2017 Norman Chivasa | This work is licensed under CC Attribution 4.0
Submitted: 15 May 2017 | Published: 31 October 2017


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Abstract

Background: In recent years, informal peace committees have rapidly made their mark either as precautionary or as response mechanisms to particular conflicts. Their main purpose is to prevent the eruption or escalation of nascent micro-level conflict into violent and more widespread conflicts. This article reports on aspects of a larger research project in which the researcher collaborated with local communities to create a ward-level peace committee in ward 8 of Seke district, Mashonaland East province, Zimbabwe.
Objective: To test whether and under what conditions informal peace committees can effectively help to contribute to peacebuilding at local community level.
Method: The study applied participatory action research to design, implement and evaluate the peace committee initiative with 15 individual members in ward 8 of Seke district. The study first conducted a 10-member focus group. Secondly, a follow-up in-depth interview on five focus group members and seven more involved in peacebuilding provided feedback on the effectiveness of informal peace committees.
Results: The study showed that creating informal peace committees is possible, as community participation in the design, implementation and day-to-day operations of such initiatives guarantees their sustainability even without external funding. One of the comparative advantages of informal peace committees is that all social groups in the community have equal chances of being represented, thus helping to meet the needs and aspirations of the community at large. The study further revealed that informal peace committees are faced with a number of limitations. The major one is that they do not enjoy official recognition from government, in spite of their critical role in contributing to peace in their host communities.
Conclusion: The strengths of informal peace committees are that they are self-initiated; they represent the interests of the host community and can be replicated.

Keywords

Community; informal peace committee; participatory methodology; peacebuilding; Seke; Zimbabwe

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