Skip to content Skip to navigation

Africa: For bread and peace

Africa: For bread and peace

Published: March 10, 2014
Two men standing in front of tree near the Africa Regional Office
Photo: AFSC / Tony Heriza

Imagine unemployment rates reaching up to 80 percent and millions of women, children, and men displaced by natural disasters and war. It’s easy to see why “no peace without bread” is a common expression in parts of Africa. AFSC’s programs in Somalia, Burundi, and Zimbabwe support those who have been affected by violence, not just in healing and rebuilding a sense of community, but in finding ways to make a decent living with dignity.

In Somalia, economic hardships, more than ideology, drive young people to enlist in armed groups. While U.S. counterterrorism laws prohibit AFSC from working in areas controlled by al-Shabaab, AFSC trained 287 youth in other parts of the country in skills to make a living and involved 3,000 in peace-building activities. Youth are seizing their new roles in finding peace and sustainable livelihoods. Parents believe these opportunities and nonviolence methods reduce the risks of their children dying in combat.

With half a million civil war-era refugees returning to Burundi in the course of a decade, the need for reintegration is great. So, too, is the need for healing, safety, and economic security. The Burundi government has committed to a national reconciliation process, and this year, AFSC arranged for parliamentarians to visit South Africa to learn from their experience. We also worked with 270 local partners to facilitate healing; build safe, inclusive communities; and develop income-generation activities for more than 5,730 people.

Not only did 450 women and men in Hatcliffe Extension, Zimbabwe, receive training in trades like welding, carpentry, and peanut butter production this year, but they also successfully lobbied for government permits to build a new “factory shell” funded through AFSC. The community workspace significantly increases productivity of entrepreneurships for 120 households. With similar initiatives launched in Hopley Farm and Enyandeni, approximately 1,300 people benefited from livelihoods and peace-building activities.

We also worked with other Quaker organizations to formulate a new multiyear program in Kenya planned to start in 2014.