Urgency to address the complexity of problems that the Niger Delta faced was evident in the run up to the 2015 Presidential Election. Concerns over the outbreak of violence during the elections prompted international investment into an initiative that would address the root drivers of conflict.
An initial baseline assessment to evaluate perceptions of violence and the level of frustration amongst the people of the Niger Delta showed that dissatisfaction with governing structures is commonplace. Up to 94% of community members felt that government is less disposed to legitimate practices, and felt unable to engage leaders. 54% of respondents felt that increasing employment opportunities was their top priority for their community, and so lamented the negative impact of violence on businesses and investment opportunities.
“Because of the insecurity caused by gang-related activities, many traders have locked their shops up and run away. Investors will not come to a place where the safety of their business cannot be guaranteed.” Dede Nwaudo, Community Filmmaker.
Dawn In The Creeks The US State Department approached Stakeholder Democracy Network (SDN) to implement a Niger Delta Legacy engagement that could address underlying drivers of violence and frustration by focusing on three objectives: reduction of risk of violence through challenging the narrative that violence pays; supporting youth to become positive role models at the community level; and rebuilding a constructive relationship between government and citizens.
With this in mind the Niger Delta Legacy Engagement was driven by a specially appointed Board of Advisors (BOA), with expertise of the problems of the region and a range of industry sectors. The strategy of the project, as outlined by the US State Department, with the guidance of the BOA, was implemented by a Secretariat hosted by Stakeholder Democracy Network. The project was defined by an initial focus on a widespread mass media campaign to spread the message of nonviolence, which would then be reinforced by a phase of direct community interventions. In order mobilize support for non-violence and engage citizens in dialogue with decision makers and each other, the Engagement used two interlinked processes to reach out to a broad audience.
A multimedia approach, spearheaded by the Dawn in the Creeks reality TV series, was complemented by direct community interventions and trainings. This dual approach aimed to ensure the message delivered would be entrenched and sustainable.
For more information on the project read the engagement narrative report, or follow this link.