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Dialogues with Dexis | Informing Peacebuilding in Coastal West Africa

Informing Peacebuilding in Coastal West Africa: Lessons Learned from the Sahel

On December 6, 2022, panelists and Dexis moderator Jenn Hollinger reviewed lessons learned from international, national, and regional peacebuilding efforts in the Sahel and discussed how these lessons can be practically applied to future programing in the West African coastal states.

Coastal West Africa was selected as a priority region for sustainable conflict prevention assistance under the U.S. Global Fragility Act (GFA). Speakers addressed opportunities for supporting local resiliencies and capacities for peacebuilding in the Sahel that can inform similar conflict prevention in Coastal West Africa.

Rida Lyammouri, Independent Senior Sahel Advisor and Senior Fellow at the Policy Center for the New South, references the benefits of addressing the root causes and understanding the local communities’ needs and then coordinating with international donors’ priorities. Rida recommends the international community invest in collecting micro-level data in the Sahel, as issues vary from one area to another, and it is difficult to get the whole picture otherwise.

Fulbright Research Fellow in Benin, Kpèdétin Oke, emphasizes the need for the international community to contextualize local gender dynamics in preventing and countering violent extremism (P/CVE) efforts. Kpèdétin shares that in Benin, “despite the limited space for women’s participation, when given the opportunity, women are able to share transformative ideas in the field of P/CVE.” Engagement with women in Benin needs to be purposeful and draw on established community associations and platforms in which women participate.

In response to democratic challenges in the Sahel and West Africa, Chief of Party for Resilience 4 Peace Program in Cote d’Ivoire, Alan Bobbett, describes the value of supporting democratic culture and not just mechanisms for democratic governance like elections. Alan observes that supporting a new cadre of leaders, especially local leaders, is critical for stability and accountability as one clear lesson from the Sahel is, “exclusion drives radicalization.”

Laura Sanders, Owner of Cetus Global, highlights the importance of integrating marginalized groups into peacebuilding in the Sahel and Coastal West Africa. Using the example of the Fulani, a pastoral group in the region, Laura describes how exclusion from government services and protection made the Fulani vulnerable to external actors and how this can be mitigated in Coastal West Africa.

Participants shared how lessons learned in the Sahel on social group inclusion, data collection on community and conflict dynamics, capacity building, and supporting democratic culture, should be considered not only for peacebuilding programming in Coastal West Africa, but also for future programming in the Sahel.

Dialogues with Dexis brings together diverse practitioners in conflict prevention, stabilization, and global security to discuss emerging trends and new innovations.






Speaker Bios

Rida Lyammouri, Independent Senior Sahel Advisor and Senior Fellow, Policy Center for the New South

Rida Lyammouri is a Senior Fellow at the Policy Center for the New South and a Senior Sahel Advisor at Navanti Group. His research focuses on geopolitics and international relations in the West African Sahel, a region he has worked on for about a decade. He has extensive experience supporting both governmental and non-governmental organizations in international aid, development, and security. The topics he covers include countering violent extremism, conflict prevention and conflict sensitivity, humanitarian access, and migration. Mr. Lyammouri has contributed to numerous in-depth research and analysis reports to build a deeper understanding of regional and domestic challenges. He is often asked by various stakeholders to provide policy recommendations on how to address various security, economic, and political challenges related to West African Sahel. Mr. Lyammouri has also presented as an expert at various conferences in the U.S., Europe, and Africa and holds a master’s degree in public policy with an emphasis on national security from the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University.

Kpèdétin Oke, Fulbright Research Fellow, Benin

Kpèdétin D. Oke is a Global development professional and social scientist with experience in advanced research and programming focused on democratic governance, gender and women’s empowerment, sustainable development, security, and public policy. Currently, Kpèdétin is a Fulbright Research Fellow in Benin working on a study: “Gender Dynamics, Women Participation in the Prevention of Violent Extremism in Benin.” Kpèdétin is the founder and CEO of African Public Policy Consulting that provides high quality consulting services in Monitoring Evaluation, Research and Learning in conflict and crisis, democracy and governance, agriculture and food security, economic development, education, and global health sectors. At Dexis, she served as a Mid- Level Qualitative Analyst consultant on the Global Health Evaluation and Learning Support Contract conducting a data quality assessment of the Global Health Supply Chain Procurement and Supply Management activity. Prior to this role, Kpèdétin successively served as Lead Researcher (Benin) where she led a team of three consultants for the project titled “Coastal Violent Extremism: Risk and Resilience Assessment;” and as Subject Matter Specialist for the Mid – term evaluation team in Nigeria for the project “Reacting to Early Warning and Response Data (REWARD). Kpèdétin holds a PhD in African Studies/Public Policy and Development, from Howard University, and a master’s in Human Rights from University of Auvergne.

Alan Bobbett, Chief of Party, Resilience 4 Peace Program

Alan Bobbett has over 25 years of experience in non-profit, development, stabilization, and peace-building work, and currently serves as Chief of Party for USAID’s Flagship Program in Cote d’Ivoire, Resilience 4 Peace. He has spent over 20 years working, living, and studying in the Sahel region and brings a unique blend of local and historical knowledge to bear on the problem sets facing the Sahel. He has worked in Libya, Tunisia, Uganda, Mali, Sierra Leone, Liberia, Guinea, Niger, Burkina Faso, and Côte d’Ivoire. He brings a grass roots, community driven approach to programming and has worked for the International Organization for Migration, International Medical Corps, Samaritan’s Purse, Building Markets, Building Tomorrow, the Kaizen Company/Tetra Tech and Equal Access International. He holds graduate degrees in Psychology and International Relations and served as a therapist for 13 years before working in international development.

Laura Sanders, Owner, Cetus Global

Laura Sanders (she/her) specializes in conflict analysis, peacebuilding, and crisis response. For over twenty years she has advised international organizations, development agencies, and local peacebuilders on strategies to prevent and mitigate violence. She engages peacebuilders at the highest and lowest socio-political levels to design impactful programming at the intersections of climate, economics, gender, and governance. After beginning her career in Latin America, Laura visited West Africa in the early 2000’s on a backpacking trip and became intrigued by pastoralism. She has since worked with pastoralist populations and farmer-herder issues in Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, Mali, Ghana, and Benin. Laura received a bachelor’s from Vassar College and a master’s from the Georgetown School of Foreign Service. Laura is now based in Cotonou, Benin and is the Director of Cetus Global. She is currently writing a book about the Peuhl.

Moderator Bio

Jenn Hollinger, Senior Technical Advisor, Stabilization, Dexis Consulting Group

Jenn Hollinger is the Senior Technical Advisor for Stabilization at Dexis where she provides technical leadership on business development efforts and program implementation. She has over 15 years of professional experience in peacebuilding and conflict mitigation, capacity building, community and civil society strengthening, preventing/countering violent extremism, advocacy, and research. Ms. Hollinger has over 13 years of experience managing USAID and OTI funded programs in Latin America, Eastern Europe, and West/East/Southern Africa. She holds a master’s in Democracy & Governance Studies from Georgetown University and a master’s in Public and International Affairs from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh.