A study conducted in the Northern Region has highlighted the significance of religious leaders as effective and reliable mobilizers of youth for peacebuilding.
According to the study, religious leaders possess a high capacity to organise youth-centred programmes to bring young people together for peacebuilding and activism, despite ethnic and historical conflicts.
The study was conducted by the Catholic Relief Services (CRS) in partnership with the Centre for Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies (CECOTAPS) with funding support from the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in 2022.
The study sampled more than 208 young people in five dioceses across the Northern region.
Making a presentation on the findings of the research, the Regional Manager of Programmes at CRS, Patrick Williams indicated that, faith-based peacebuilding and social cohesion work in the country offers tremendous opportunities and learnings that could lead to improved prospects for the Sahel region.
He also added, “the unique dynamics in Ghana offer more space and a genuine opportunity to tackle issues before malicious and divisive actors can exploit them”.
Mr Williams noted from the report finding the significance of youth and community leaders’ joint participation in interreligious activities in peaceful communities.
According to him, engaging people in peacebuilding efforts holistically such as peace walks, community service and joint declarations tend to have an impact on them rather than mobilizing them independently.
The finding according to the Regional Programme Manager noted a drop in perceived levels of social cohesion in the Northern Region over the past year.
He observed that the drop poses greater fragility in the region that is beyond the scope of interreligious activities.
Mr Williams recommended peacebuilding efforts should include skills training, so it does not seem irrelevant to economically vulnerable people.
He also indicated the need to integrate economic activities and peacebuilding into educational curriculums to conscientize the minds of young people about its importance.
For his part, the Country representative, Daniel Mumuni called on civil society organisations to complement the efforts of the government in providing economic opportunities to young people in the face of ongoing security threats in the country.
The research conducted last year was to expand learning, improve practice, and document lessons in intergenerational and interreligious peacebuilding in Northern Ghana