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The Interfaith Mediation Centre, Nigeria
For years Nigeria has suffered from violent conflict between religious and ethnic communities, with extensive loss of life and damage to property. In 1995, two leaders of opposing factions – one a Muslim, Imam Muhammad Ashafa, the other a Christian, Pastor James Wuye – helped found Nigeria’s Interfaith Mediation Centre. Its mission is to create a peaceful society through non-violent and strategic engagements in Nigeria and elsewhere in the world. The two men were brought together in a quest for peace and have become world-renowned peacemakers.
The Interfaith Mediation Centre evolved from the ideas of a few passionate individuals into an internationally respected non-governmental organization. It uses advocacy to influence key legislation, and develops innovative tools for interfaith dialogue. For nearly 15 years, the Centre has flourished as a faith-based organization. It has carried out more than 180 successful interventions in Nigeria as well as in Sudan, Kenya and Iraq.
Among its achievements are the signing of the Kaduna Peace Declaration of Religious Leaders, after which Kaduna enjoyed nearly a decade of peace, and the Yelwa Shendam Peace Accord, which brought peace to feuding communities. It also contributed to the establishment of the Government of Kaduna State’s Bureau for Religious Affairs.
Those positive results encouraged the Interfaith Mediation Centre to transfer its skills to like-minded organizations, but it did not have the capacities to do so. It also recognized that in order to attract support for its future work from donors, it would have to ensure that its own organization was strong enough to manage funds properly. So in 2008, the Centre embarked on a partnership with Pact to develop its capacity holistically, including joint identification of gaps through participatory assessment, planning work using a variety of methodologies such as training, coaching, and mentoring, and sub-granting to test newly established systems and procedures.
These capacity development efforts helped make the Centre’s leadership more effective and enabled it function more smoothly and reduce dependence on its founders. The organization’s capabilities are increasingly recognized by development partners. The Center has received funding from Christian Aid, the Threshold Foundation, and from UNDP, and has started developing proposals for USAID. Its improved organizational capacity has also enabled more focus on technical work, while a shared organizational vision has fostered better collaboration with other organizations.
Support to the capacity development process
At every level, the government has recognized and financially supported the Centre for its role as broker and builder of peace. It has also engaged the Centre to train its staff in peacebuilding and conflict management. The Centre has also trained the staff of the Nigeria Inter-Religious Council on peaceful coexistence, the religious and tribal leaders of Adamawa State on conflict mitigation, and Kano State’s religious security group on how to manage conflict situations. Kaduna State’s Bureau of Religious Affairs is another product of the Centre’s work, and acts as a model for other states.
Members of the Interfaith Mediation Centre serve on the National Anti-Corruption Committee as well as other committees in Kaduna State. These platforms have helped to further enhance the Centre’s visibility and development.
Development partners’ support
The British Council offered valuable moral, material, and financial support for the Centre’s early development, helping to stabilize the young organization and enable its professional growth.
With USAID support, Pact worked with the Centre on a guided organizational capacity self-assessment, which helped its staff to honestly identify the programmatic strengths as well as the organization’s administrative challenges. Based on a strong and trusting relationship, Pact worked with the Centre to address its capacity gaps. It provided professional skills training and mentoring through internal events. It helped develop work plans and strategies, strengthened financial systems, and supported the development of a monitoring and evaluation system. A participatory, proactive, and flexible approach to capacity development ensured the Centre’s ownership of its results: improved performance and improved organizational sustainability.
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Year of publication:2011
Collection:LenCD "Capacity: Results"
Themes and sectors:Peacebuilding
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