Conflict prevention and mitigation

Voices of women and youth in promoting peace and tolerance

Kyrgyzstan is a multinational country in which many different nationalities and ethnic groups live. However, due to the lack of land resources, low economic growth, high unemployment and underdeveloped social conditions, as well as high population density, the Fergana Valley is becoming one of the zones most prone to interethnic conflicts. Not all borders of Kyrgyzstan with Tajikistan and Uzbekistan are defined and agreed, which increases the risk of disputes among the local population over natural resources such as land, forest and water.

The lack of a strong and consistent government policy in managing diversity and national programs to promote tolerance leads to the emergence and intensification of conflict situations between different ethnic groups, which manifest themselves in the form of misunderstanding or hostility, and sometimes violence towards each other.

As a result of emerging conflicts, women, youth and the poor are the most vulnerable groups suffering from violence and aggression. Especially vulnerable groups do not have the opportunity to participate in the decision-making process and to influence the processes taking place in the community. In southern Kyrgyzstan, women and young people are often limited in access to material and social resources, do not have sufficient information and knowledge about their rights and opportunities.

In order to mitigate conflicts at the community level and their consequences, it is necessary to work thoroughly and in depth with women and youth groups in places of conflict and their potential occurrence.

Key facts
Years of implementation:   2011
Place of implementation:   aiyl districts Ak-Sai and Ak-Tatyr, Batken oblast, aiyl okrug Toolos and Nookat town, Osh oblast
Donor:   United States Agency for International Development (USAID) through the International Resources Group

Objective of the project
The main goal of the project was to develop and test an innovative mechanism for involving socially vulnerable groups, such as women and youth, in the process of discussing conflicts and making a joint decision to resolve them by strengthening their potential, establishing dialogue and community discussions, and developing recommendations for local governments in community-based conflict mitigation work.

Project objectives
-   Strengthening the potential of vulnerable groups in understanding and analyzing conflicts and making decisions on their resolution;
- Establishment and development of dialogue between representatives of the Kyrgyz, Uzbek and Tajik ethnic groups, in particular between women and youth in the border area, through joint analysis of conflicts, as well as community discussions on ways to prevent conflict situations;
- Creation of opportunities and conditions for socially vulnerable groups to take part in the discussion with local authorities of conflict situations and ways to resolve them;
- Providing small grants to communities, especially vulnerable groups, to build peace and good neighborliness.

Location of the project
The project was implemented in Batken oblast: Ak-Sai and Ak-Tatyr aiyl districts (Ak-Sai, Ak-Tatyr, Uch-Dobo, Kok-Tash, Orto-Boz villages) and Osh oblast: Nookat town and Tolos aiyl district (Zhayilma , Dodon, Ay-Tamga, Talman, Mertik, Murkut, Shoron and Kenesh).

Main project activities
-   Social mobilization of communities: organization of meetings, joint discussions with representatives of target communities;
- Collecting information and conducting a situational analysis of conflict issues in target communities;
- Selection of project participants among young people and women and their training in the "Photo-Voice" methodology;
- Conducting photo research by community members on conflict issues;
- Organization and conduct of group discussions, selection of photographs and preparation of photo-essays;
- Joint discussion and development of a conflict management plan at the village level;
- Organization of a traveling photo exhibition and organization of community discussions among study participants based on the results of the study and the results of the photo exhibition;
- Providing small grants to local communities to support the implementation of the Joint Conflict Management Plan.

Project results
-   In the process of participating in the photo research, women and young people gained experience in formulating, defining and articulating needs and solutions to problems associated with conflicts and disagreements;
- Through joint discussions and analysis of conflicts, women and youth of Kyrgyz, Tajik and Uzbek nationalities established contact with each other, which contributed to the strengthening of peaceful relations in the studied zones.
- Through the organization of mobile exhibitions and joint discussions for socially vulnerable groups, conditions have been created and opportunities have been expanded to participate in decision-making processes in resolving conflict situations;
- Based on the conflict management plan developed by women and youth groups, a small grants program was developed, within the framework of which