Peacemakers of Herat: Strengthening Conflict Resolution skills and building bridges within Communities

UNDP Afghanistan partner Afghanistan Independent Rehabilitation Organization (AIRO) raises awareness of peacebuilding, social cohesion, and the importance of peace dialogue.

September 22, 2022

Sayera, a woman member of the Conflict Resolution Committee in Ghoryan discusses her experiences to a larger audience.

Photo by © AIRO

The project “Raising Awareness and Training for Community Members and Engagement in Social Cohesion and Peacebuilding” was conducted by UNDP Afghanistan’s partner AIRO in Ghuryan and Shindand of Herat, west Afghanistan in the course of five months. A total of 390 programme participants (150 women) with a broad background ranging from community leaders to youths were selected, with priority to the most marginalized and vulnerable communities.

The participants were trained on conflict analysis and its sensitivities, and how to identify community connectors and dividers. In addition, they were informed on subjects of peacebuilding, social cohesion, mediation, negotiation, and peace dialogues.

Sayera (28) is one of the participants.

“One day, my nephew Zakaria threw a stone at Asma, a girl next door. She was severely injured. Asma's family was infuriated when Zakaria’s parents refused to apologize. So I stepped in to mediate,” she said.

“I called on both sides and calmed them down first. Then I listened to each of their demands. Next, I reminded Zakaria's parents that insisting on their son’s innocence will not bring things forward. Then, finally, I brought them together to discuss among themselves peacefully,” she added.

 After a face-to-face, Zakaria’s parents eventually apologized and offered to pay for Asma’s treatment. Asma’s family politely refused the offer but, more importantly, thanked Zakaria's family for accepting their son's mistake.”

“Identifying the elements of conflict and steps towards peaceful solutions were a great takeaway from the training. In addition, learning to mediate between opposing parties was a skill I could utilize immediately. I hope to use my skills again."

Sultan Ahmad Sulaimani (55) is the head of the male Conflict Resolution Committee in Ghoryan, which UNDP partner AIRO, established and trained.

One day, a young couple approached me, saying that they wished to divorce. I listened to both parties without taking sides. Then I identified elements that can bring the discussions forward without accusations. Finally, I wrote each of their demands in a letter, signed by both parties and myself as a witness. After a sincere heart-to-heart, eventually, they made peace.”

He remains active in resolving other conflicts regarding domestic disputes and arguments over land and farming infrastructures, while sharing his knowledge with the wider community.

It would be good to introduce similar training in other districts- surely we are not the only ones who need mediation.”

Years of economic difficulty and the recent political changes weakened traditional community ties and worsened the marginalization of vulnerable communities. Through hands-on workshops and training, UNDP Afghanistan continues to support and train community-based, inclusive peace-building mechanisms.