Supporting Community Resilience in Conflict

Release Date: 
Thursday, November 19, 2015
© Jocelyn Kelly

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Resilience is an increasingly debated concept among humanitarian and development actors assisting communities impacted by natural disasters and armed conflict. Generally, there is acknowledgement of the need to strengthen individual, community and institutional mechanisms for coping with violence. Yet there is little agreement as to what resilience actually means, especially in the context of communities affected by conflict. Some consider resilience to be an end goal, while others consider it to be a process of adaptation.

A new study from the Harvard Humanitarian Initiative uses the Lord’s Resistance Army conflict as a case study to explore some manifestations of community resilience and self-protection mechanisms. The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has carried out a reign of terror across four African countries over the past two decades, originating in northern Uganda and later moving to the border region between South Sudan, Central African Republic (CAR) and the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). The group is known for its longevity and cult-like qualities, and its extreme violence against civilians.

In conversations with key experts and practitioners, this podcast will focus on lessons learned from the LRA conflict. We’ll draw on findings from the study’s two companion reports, which detail community experiences with and responses to violence, as well as illuminate the LRA’s internal structure and motivations. We’ll explore the practical and policy implications for humanitarian actors seeking to support communities affected by the LRA, or other non-state armed groups such as Boko Haram or Al Shabab.

The podcast will explore the following questions:

  • What does community resilience mean, and how can humanitarian actors support resilience efforts ?
  • What unique mechanisms for peacebuilding and self protection have been developed by communities threatened by non-state armed groups ?
  • What lessons can humanitarian actors learn from populations affected by non-state armed groups, and how can these lessons inform community responses to other extremist groups?
  • As the Central African Republic and South Sudan are threatened by renewed insecurity, how can we leverage resilience mechanisms for better equipping communities to deal with the vulnerabilities of conflict and the outcomes of that violence?

Expert Commentators: 

Eunice Apio
Director, Facilitation for Peace and Development (FAPAD)
Twitter: @FAPADUganda
Jérôme Grimaud
Humanitarian Affairs Officer, Humanitarian Access and Protection of Civilians, UN OCHA, C.A.R.
Twitter: @OCHA_CAR
Jocelyn Kelly
Director, Women in War Program, HHI
Twitter: @jtdkelly
Sean Poole
Director of International Programs, Invisible Children
Twitter: @seancpoole
Paul Ronan
Project Director, The Resolve LRA Crisis Initiative
Twitter: @pauldronan
Father Ernest Sugule
Peace Mediator, founder of Solidarity and Integral Assistance to Destitute People (SAIPED), D.R.C.



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