With the support of the Foundation for Civil Society (FCS), Tanzania Initiative for Social and Economic Relief(TISER) implemented an intervention on peace management and conflict resolution in Mvomero district in Morogoro region. The success of the intervention is a result of TISER working closely with members of the Police force in Mvomero district. Approaches such as formative capacity building, sensitization, and facilitation of sports events especially in mobilizing community members were used.
How the Police Force was involved
The Police force is responsible for keeping peace in the communities. During the implementation of the intervention, Police officers were engaged as key stakeholders in peace management and conflict resolutions because they are the public face of security and work closely with the society to ensure people and their properties are safe. TISER engaged the police force effectively by building their capacity in peace management and conflict resolutions, working with them to restore and maintain harmony in communities.
The Police Inspector of the District Police station for Mvomero district Inspector Emmanuel Mfuru spoke on TISER’s impact in the community saying ‘‘The situation was tense before TISER’s intervention as enmity between the pastoralists and farmers was serious. The two communities were fighting, livestock was killed, there were sabotages, and farms were burnt down. TISER helped a lot in ending the challenges that existed as they brought the two communities together to reach a consensus to end the tensions’’
The intervention resulted in restored peace; the Inspector added ‘‘It was a miracle seeing tensions setting down. It encouraged us even more as the police to continue with our operations and strategies in working on restoring security.’’
He also said that in the past, the Wami Dakawa Police station used to have a lot of Police Officers on standby to address occurrences of hostility. “The situation has now changed as the pastoralists/farmers cases have significantly dropped from an average of 15 to 20 cases to less than 5 cases per day. The conflicts between the two groups are now very rare thus they are seldom reported’’
Now we are united
In implementing the intervention, TISER also facilitated the formation of conflict resolution committees as well as conducted peace seminars. The key stakeholders were both pastoralists and farmers so as to bring the two communities together for discussions on the challenges that existed and finding solutions to the issues.
One of the participants in these discussions is pastor Daniel Mgusa of the Assemblies of God Church said ‘‘TISER used a different approach in resolving these tensions. They were using a practical training approach which helped a lot during discussions and engagements. They also called both communities together to analyze the roots of their problems and find solutions for the issues. In due time, solutions were identified and the situation has changed. For example, the exchange of greetings between Maasai pastoralists and farmers was uncommon and rare, almost nonexistent in the past before TISER’s intervention. This is not the case anymore’’
Before the intervention, the enmity between Pastoralists and Farmers was a rife even in the houses of worship as the pastoralists avoided to go where the farmers were praying and vice versa.
Sports as a tool for peace
TISER used sport as a tool to defuse local tensions in Mvomero. They decided to use this approach because sports values insist on fairness, teamwork towards achieving a shared goal and discipline. It turned out that this was an effective approach that brought unity and neutralized tensions. Commenting on this, the Chief Executive Officer for TISER Mr Otanamusu Masaoe said ‘We created teams that comprised of both the farmers and pastoralists in one team. This improved their bonding during the football matches and in other types of sports as it enabled interactions with each other as a pastoralist would be in the same team with another player who is a farmer. This worked a lot in neutralizing tensions.’
TISER organized such sports event which took place at Wami Sokoine where many people in nearby villages participated. Apart from football, there were games such as pulling the rope, chasing chickens, netball, etc. To improve social bond people of all gender, ages, occupation and religions/traditions were engaged.
This project has proven to be important in reducing tensions and improve social cohesion which is a prerequisite for peace Management. FCS has been working with other partners in various regions in Tanzania to strengthen the capacity to dialogue at the community level, so that conflicts are amicably resolved for country’s development.