Our approach for capacity building is always tailored to the needs and concerns of the target groups or actors. Modules to provide the skills, tools, and knowledge necessary for project participants to advance their goals in a way that is non-adversarial, inclusive, and collaborative underpin all of our sessions. The modules on our approach focuses leadership, personality development, entrepreneurship etc, which captures non-adversarial engagement techniques, and non-violent approaches to problem solving which help participants to successfully navigate complex environments and larger societal conflicts the conflict realities they face within their daily lives. Even Though our capacity buildings usuallytarget young people, we also provide youth-led capacity buildingto different stakeholders of different age brackets and gender. Between the years 2015 – 2020, we organised over 50 capacity building events targeting more than 1000 people (male and female). For example, the National Symposium for Youth Participation in peacebuilding was organised to mobilise and build the capacities of young peacebuilders from the Conflict affect regions of Cameroon. The Symposium led to the creation of the first ever Cameroon Youths Mediators Network.
While platforms for dialogue and engagement are not unique toolsets, Local Youth Corner’s approach of transformative dialogue and engagement is particularly relevant and useful in active conflict and insecure environments not leaving out environments susceptible to conflict in the near future. Our expert facilitators are trained to effectively engage diverse groups that range from community youth leaders, religious and traditional leaders to local government and security actors. LOYOC also purposefully involves divided, and/or adversarial stakeholders and groups, supporting them to foster understanding by focusing on commonalities and humanization of the “other.” Since misunderstanding, misinformation and miscommunication are at the heart of conflict between government structures and population, our approach for creating safe spaces for dialogues provide unique opportunities to rebuild the relationship and trust between communities and these stakeholders. This ultimately promotes collaboration and engagement based on shared interests aimed at bridging divides and building relationships that support joint win-win solutions to critical issues and grievances. During our previous strategic plan, we implemented over 40 initiatives aimed at creating spaces for intercultural, interreligious and inter-generational dialogues, as well as between government and communities in Cameroon.
Local Youth Corner Cameroon is a leader in catalysing change and strengthening access to information through creative tools that can contribute to promoting youth inclusion, collaboration and understanding between different stakeholders and ensuring reliable, unbiased, and timely access to information for all. During the period of 2015 – 2020, our approach focused on using media to sensitise, combat hate speech, misinformation and fake news. Since media is increasingly becoming a platform used to inflict pain and violence, our new strategic plan will focus on developing more content for social and mass media to respond to these realities. A key component of this work will be our radio, TV and social media sensitization and campaign strategies. We will use these tools to build the capacities of our local and national audience, by providing conflict-sensitive edutainment content, positive social behaviour change and social cohesion content. For example in our previous year, we developed an animated video responding to peace and COVID19with the aim of promoting social cohesion, which was aired on social media platforms.
Local Youth Corner defines violent extremism as violence, which is perpetrated to the extreme. This includes the use of suicide bombs, heavy weapons, mass killing, automated explosive, kidnapping and assaults. These are choices made by individuals or groups to use violence to address real or perceived grievances, in line with an extremist viewpoint that advocates increasingly exclusionary group identities. Our tactics hinge on a four-pillar methodology; disengagement through vocational and professional skills building, credible and constructive narratives, rehabilitation and reintegration programs in existing peacebuilding and CVE initiatives. An Example is the Creative skills for Peace Project which transformed over 8 prisons and correctional facilities in Cameroon, into transformation and rehabilitation centres through vocational skills training (transforming tyres to shoes, tailoring, hairdressing, greenhouse farming etc), reconnecting inmates with families and inclusive education. The CSP led to the transformation of 3 inmates from violent offenders into entrepreneurs, who later got released.
Our interventions are supported by rigorous research methods to support an evidence-based approach. We have seen the impact of baseline research and policy-led publication in shaping our responses and influencing local and national policy around peace building. Given the fluidity of conflict settings, we house a set of core research tools designed to analyze the context; map, assess and reassess assumptions and conflict dynamics; rapidly and scan target zones for changes in context; and identify barriers, entry points, and stakeholders to address and leverage for a successful intervention. Our tools include conflict analyses, conflict assessments, conflict scans, barrier analyses and stakeholder mappings, and perception studies. All of our evaluations and research are made public to support wider learning across the sector. We also use participatory research processes as a tool to support capacity building and empowerment of our partners and participants, including our widely successful youth-led research methodology. We carry out research both within projects and as a research implementation partner for other institutions. During our last strategic plan we were able to publish research work on Hate Speech and Violent Conflicts in Cameroon
Local Youth Corner Cameroon’s principle of intervention is “Do no Harm”, “Do Peaceful”. Our community engagement and entry strategy is based on cultural and context sensitivity and grounded in principles of neutrality, which helps build trust, access, and buy-in of the target communities and ensure that our interventions are understood and accepted by key stakeholders (government, security, civil society) and communities (community, traditional, and religious leaders, youth, women, and others). This approach facilitates effective entry and project start-up. LOYOC engages these stakeholders not only as “project beneficiaries,” but also as project partners, where they are incorporated into project design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation, and decision-making platforms under the project (i.e. a project advisory committee). Sustainability and buy-in are increased when community, government, security, and civil society actors are incorporated as leaders, contributors, and owners of our interventions.
In our previous years, we have observed the capacity of advocacy and sensitization in changing narratives and providing reliable and evidence-based information to multiple stakeholders toward achieving peace. Our advocacy is guided by the principle of; “Evidence based”, which means, ensuring that our targeted audience is provided evidence to back up our request or accessions. Within the current context, there is a lot of misconception about the role of different stakeholders in building peace, especially youth and women as well as a roadmap to properly engage different stakeholders in building peace. Thus, the need to continuously sensitise stakeholders and advocate for support, policy and actions toward ensuring collaboration to build peace remains very important. For instance, the Building Peace with Young People” initiative was an initiative implemented to strengthen the capacities of 600 young people, advocate for communities, government and other development stakeholders to engage and participate in the peace process to end the current rise of violence and insecurity in Cameroon, for a period of six months.