Violent extremism seems to have exploded out of nowhere in the Sahel over recent years. But to assume that armed groups such as Boko Haram – whose campaign of bombings, assassinations and abductions has left more than 10 million people in need of humanitarian aid – are driven by nothing more than bloodlust, or to simply label them as “terrorists”, is to close the door on understanding the complex conflict dynamics at play and, by extension, on effective peace-building.
Through in-depth reporting, this project, a partnership with the Open Society Initiative for West Africa, aims to deepen the discussion around the causes and dynamics of violent extremism in the region. By exploring local peace, development and de-radicalisation initiatives, it identifies interventions that can help build tolerance and sustainable peace.
Working closely with local reporters, the project focuses on five countries: Nigeria, Niger, Mali, Cameroon, and Senegal, chosen because of their particular susceptibility to extremist violence and the strength of their civil society and research networks.
Our coverage will explore the roles of specific groups within communities, including youths, women, and the influence that elders and traditional mediation mechanisms can bring to bear.