The Institute for Peace and Security Studies (IPSS) is in the process of implementing “Partnering with the Grassroots”, an innovative, tailor-made e-learning project intended to involve local communities in conflict prevention, management and resolution. The project aims to equip local government officials and key actors at the grassroots level throughout the Horn of Africa with the requisite knowledge, skills and attitude needed to prevent, manage, and resolve conflicts effectively, impartially, and through bottom-up processes and approaches.

The objectives of this course are to:

  1. Develop the capacity of participants to differentiate between violence, non-violent conflict, and peace;
  2. Equip participants with the skills needed to identify potential conflicts and to quickly respond to prevent outbreak or escalation;
  3. Introduce them to the escalation stages of a conflict;
  4. Identify the right leaders within formal and informal institutions who are capable or proactively engaged in conflict prevention, management, and resolution;
  5. Establish formats and processes through which governments and the grassroots community can work together throughout a conflict spectrum;
  6. Enable participants to recognise and use institutional and legal frameworks to resolve conflicts effectively;
  7. Prepare participants to apply tailor-made alternative dispute resolution (ADR) mechanisms effectively; and,
  8. Equip participants to plan interventions in conflict situations.

Between December 2014 and January 2015, three modules were delivered during the pilot phase of this project in the Southern Nations, Nationalities and People’s Regional State (SNNPRS) in Ethiopia. 17 government officials from the region and surrounding localities were trained. The pilot project equipped participants with the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes to prevent conflicts from escalating; enabled participants to resolve conflicts sustainably through a bottom-up approach; aided participants in understanding complex subject matters simply; improved the digital literacy of participants; and allowed participants to engage in the course at their own time and pace.