Inclusivity is one of our core values. We believe that for peacebuilding and development to be broadly impactful and sustainable, the voice of local populations must be heard – and the right people need to hear that voicing, and be able to act on what they have heard.
When we began our work, we focused on locally-owned and -led reconciliation to help communities heal after Sierra Leone’s civil war. Together, Catalyst for Peace and Fambul Tok built inclusivity into our approach — starting with reconciliation committees, the community-based structures that envisioned and planned the ceremonies of truth-telling, apology, and atonement to the ancestors. Reconciliation committee members were chosen by communities themselves, according to Fambul Tok guidelines, which emphasized diversity and having the respect of community members.
Our work has grown and changed with the needs of communities. Women who participated in our reconciliation bonfires told us that they had suffered uniquely during the war, and they wanted a space to come together as women, to discuss their needs and find ways to work together for their communities. Their determination birthed the Peace Mothers program and contributed to our ongoing focus on women’s leadership.
When Ebola arrived in Sierra Leone, it started in the same communities where the war began — communities where we were uniquely positioned to help bridge the gap between local voices and needs and the national and international aid response. We saw that the pathways we had built between leadership at the village, section, district and national and international levels could contribute to long-term development that is rooted in inclusivity and envisioned by communities themselves.
We tested this conviction by piloting the People’s Planning Process in three districts. The results were so powerful that the approach has become the foundation of the Government of Sierra Leone’s national development policy framework, the Wan Fambul National Framework for Inclusive Governance and Local Development. With the Wan Fambul framework, built on more than a decade of community-centered work and learning from Catalyst for Peace and Fambul Tok, Sierra Leone has become a pioneer, taking a lead globally in putting people and communities in the center and at the helm of peace and development.