Nairobi Peace Initiative–Africa (NPI–Africa)

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NPI Africa
5th Floor, New Waumini House
Chiromo Road - Waiyaki Way, Westlands
P.O. Box 14894-00800 Nairobi, Kenya

Tel: +254-20-4441444/ 4440098
Fax: +254-20-4440097

Email: info@npi-africa.org
Website: http://www.npi-africa.org

Ms. Florence N. Mpaayei, Acting Executive Director, fmpaaye@npi-africa.org
Mr. George Wachira, Senior Research and Policy Advisor, gwachira@npi-africa.org

Description

NPI-Africa was founded in 1984, as drought swept the region and coherent policy responses were needed. Originally known as the Nairobi Peace Group (NPG), it focused on embedding peace-related issues on the agenda of intergovernmental and other relevant institutions. In 1989, signaling a shift from convening and advocacy to a focus on implementing peace-building and reconciliation initiatives in different conflict situations, it renamed itself NPI-Africa, with the following objectives:

  • To develop skills and knowledge of strategic partners in Eastern and Central Africa that enables them to sustain dialogue which promotes reconciliation and healing and focuses on deeper cause that generate and sustain conflicts;
  • To ensure an increased articulation and reflection on peace and conflict issues among peace workers, that promotes learning, better peace-building practice and contribute to policy debates;
  • To actively involve targeted communities in conflict in dialogue processes which build networks of relationships that promote reconciliation and healing and also focus on deeper causes that generate and sustain conflicts; and
  • To develop NPI-Africa into a sustainable organization and reference point for capacity building, peace-building practice and knowledge generation in Eastern and Central Africa.

The Initiative has four program areas:

Capacities for Peace: This program seeks to build the capacity of strategic actors from state, religious, and civil society institutions and organizations. In addition to offering tailored capacity building support to partners and strategic actors, NPI-Africa plans to convene an annual training institute. Initially, the institute will be held in a different country each year, and will be open to participants within and close to the hosting country.

Research, Reflection, Learning and Policy: This program promotes policy-relevant research and learning aimed at impacting policy. It builds on a recognition of the importance of knowledge generation and utilization as a means of enhancing impact. At a second level, the strategy reflects NPI-Africa's strategic choice to play a role in the realm of policy discourses by particularly occupying a ‘mediative' niche between its local constituencies and the policy realm. The strategy also recognizes and responds to the need to continually learn from and improve practice.

Peacemaking, Healing and Reconciliation: The main purpose of this program is to initiate Peacemaking and Conflict Resolution. Based on its past successful initiation and facilitation of dialogue among and between conflicting communities in a number of countries in Africa, NPI-Africa plans to continue to work with parties and communities in conflict to avert, resolve or transform conflicts as need arises and conditions allow. This work requires high levels of flexibility and alertness to opportunity.

Organizational Development and Institutional Strengthening: NPI-Africa places a high premium on ensuring optimal organizational capacity as a key to delivering its goals. To this end, the program focuses on organizational development and institutional strengthening. The strengthening of financial and human resource sustainability; enhancing planning, learning and monitoring; strengthening overall oversight by the board; and building strategic external relationships, are key elements in this strategy.

NPI-Africa’s annual budget fluctuates between US$500,000 and $800,000. Its core budget of US$350,000 is drawn mainly from European agencies affiliated to charity/faith-based organizations, such as ICCO, Christian Aid, and Bread for the World. The Initiative has also received designated funding for specific projects and initiatives from foundations such as Ford, research institutions such as the International Development Research Centre, and developed country governments through collaboration with NPI-Africa’s Northern partners.

Track Record

As a pioneering peace-building organization in Africa, NPI-Africa’s initial key concern and objective was to see peace placed firmly on the agenda of relevant religious, academic, governmental and civil society organizations in Africa. This was at a politically difficult moment in Africa, with civil wars raging in various countries but no commensurate processes or institutions to focus action towards resolving them. Twenty-three years later, NPI-Africa believes this objective has been achieved and surpassed, listing it among its key achievements. The Initiative has directly supported the emergence of peace-building organizations and networks and supported justice and peace programs and departments in churches.

A leading capacity building organization, NPI-Africa has trained members of partner organizations, community groups, and CSOs in more than 30 African countries. Some of its trainees have gone on to serve in governments in Liberia, Somalia, DRC, and Kenya.

In the area of mediation, NPI-Africa has successfully undertaken community peacemaking and reconciliation work in Ghana (1994-2000) and Kenya (1993-2002). It has also provided technical support and facilitation of women in the official peace negotiations for Somalia, DRC and Liberia, in partnership with Femmes Africa Solidarité (FAS, see separate profile).

NPI-Africa has also successfully influenced policy on Africa. This has been achieved particularly through the UN/AU International Conference on the Great Lakes Region where NPI-Africa is an observer; the COMESA Peace and Security Program with which NPI-Africa has a consultative status; and the Global Partnership for the prevention of Armed Conflict, for which NPI-Africa serves as the Regional Secretariat for East and Central Africa and is a member of the global Executive Committee (See http://www.gppac.net). In 1999, NPI-Africa kicked off the debate on appropriate approaches for evaluating peace initiatives and processes. This debate has been gaining momentum around the world ever since.

NPI-Africa recently initiated the formation, and is the first Convener, of the Africa Alliance for Peacebuilding (AfAP), launched in Durban, South Africa in February 2007. AfAP initially brings together three leading organizations—WANEP, ACCORD (see separate profiles) and NPI-Africa, for joint learning, strategizing and action with regard to issues of mutual interest. Other organizations will shortly be invited to join.

Challenges

A major challenge faced by NPI-Africa is in the human resources domain. Most donors prefer to invest the lion’s share of their funding in program activities, at the expense of building a strong complement of staff to carry them out. The result is that fewer staff are recruited, and compelled to multi-task in coordinating the multiplicity of activities on the ground that inevitably arise due to the nature of peace-building. Linked to this, it becomes difficult to attract and keep highly qualified staff due to NPI-Africa’s inability to pay top market rates. This calls for donors to pay more attention to institutional and organizational development.

The emerging tendency of donors establishing regional offices in countries where they once funded national NGOs has marked a major shift in priorities, with the result that funding previously given to local partners is either reduced or discontinued altogether. Another problem is that many donors only provide short-term funding, when by its very nature, peace-building work is mainly process oriented, requiring long-term commitment in the necessary human and financial resources. The exponential growth of organizations and actors working in the peace and security field has also introduced competition for limited resources. All this suggests that more sustained investment in the institutional development of proven actors such as NPI-Africa would result in greater impact across the board.

Opportunities

Private foundations have the opportunity to invest in building the sustainable institutional capacity that has eluded an organization that has nevertheless established a long track record of active programming and carved itself a niche in the Eastern African sub-region and beyond.

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