The leader who became a peacebuilder: Auwalu's story

35-year-old Auwalu fled from his hometown of Baga, Nigeria, before it fell to insurgents in 2015, to the Teachers’ village internally displaced persons (IDPs) camp in Maiduguri. In search of new beginnings, he enlisted with the Civilian Joint Task Force (CJTF) together with others from Baga, Kukawa and Ngala Local Government Areas who lived in the same IDP camp.

However, the camp community that Auwalu and his colleagues had pledged to safeguard, often accused the CJTF of favoritism and partiality when mediating conflicts. This caused great distrust between the two parties, as a result the community stopped sharing vital information with the CJTF, and began openly accusing the CJTF of scheming with the insurgents. This troubled Auwalu and the State Emergency Management Agency officials at the camp, whom he often reports to in the course of his work.

Receiving trainings

Auwalu was recommended to join International Alert’s training, which conducted through our project. Together with 24 other community leaders, he received training on conflict mediation, peacebuilding, public speaking, facilitation skills and conflict-sensitivity. The population of the Teachers’ Village Camp in Maiduguri is mostly made up of people from Baga, Kukawa and Ngala, therefore it was easy for the camp leaders to identify Auwalu as an indigene of Baga and coupled with his dedication as a CJTF member, he was considered an ideal candiate for this.

The training I received on trauma consciousness, signs and symptoms of psychosocial distress and application of psychosocial support helped me to understand how to manage survivors who exhibit symptoms without creating further conflict, while also facilitating appropriate referral process for specialised support and services.

He showed great interest in the curriculum and was keen on proving that the training could help him project a better image of the CJTF to the community. Since then, Auwalu has not only relented in coordinating the regular Peace Forums in the community but can also often be seen facilitating and moderating reintegration activities for participants within the camp.

At the Peace Forum, community members meet with security sector institutions, including semi-formal militia like the CJTF, to discuss matters of security that risk causing further distrust. This provides all parties with a platform to air their views and allows the community leaders to mediate and find solutions that build peace and social cohesion.

"Participating in this project has made me popular because I am often involved in a lot of dialogue sessions and, as a member of the Community Action Committee (CAC), I often resolve issues of conflict within the community, especially reconciling and reintegrating young women who have been rejected by their families, because they gave birth to children out of wedlock."

He has also shared his new knowledge with his Sector Command during step-down trainings. This has influenced other CJTF members to embrace peace and work with the community in ways that have greatly increased social cohesion at Teachers’ Village Camp.

International Alert and its partners, continue to work in camps across Borno State, supporting the reintegration and building the resilience of women and girls affected by sexual and gender-based violence and abduction by Boko Haram, thanks to the funding support of the UK Government through the Confict, Stability and Security Fund (CSSF).

Find out more about the project

Alert works on this project with the following local partners, Centre for Social Cohesion, Peace and Empowerment (CENSCOPE) and Gender Equality, Peace and Development Centre (GEPaDC).