As a short recap of this project (our last update can be found here), a team of SIRLab researchers is partnering with the Canadian Cooperative Association and their implementing partner, SEND Ghana, to test two peace pledges for mitigating conflict within producer cooperatives. Grounded within regulatory focus theory, the intervention involves creating two different types of peace pledges taken by each member: (1) a promotion focused pledge, and (2) a prevention focused pledge. Since our last update on this particular project, the two peace pledges have been rolled out to all 80 communities involved in the project. During the latter half of April, a SIRLab researcher and members of SEND Ghana visited a few of the communities to get an initial sense of how well the pledges had been adopted, from a technical standpoint, as well as whether/how the peace pledges were impacting the producer cooperatives and communities.
While it is still early in the project cycle, the SIRLab team is excited to share that the early signs of the project are very positive! The peace pledges have been fully adopted and have become increasingly more embedded in the daily lives of the cooperative and community members. One interesting example of how the pledges have become more “embedded” came from one community in which some of the local pastors are using the pledge to begin and end their church services. Given that the pledges are designed to improve the governance of producer cooperatives, this was an unexpected application of their use. Other early insights from the visits included:
- Examples of Conflict Avoidance – The research team heard a number of cases where people were proactively changing certain behaviors to mitigate conflict, such as no longer carrying weapons to the field, retracting provocative comments/behaviors in public spaces, and seeking formal avenues for addressing issues. In each case, interviewees explained that the peace pledge caused them to pause and reflect on the status quo, and ultimately adjust to more peaceful alternatives.
- Broader Community Spillover – To reinforce the peace pledge, which is sung by the cooperative members, a poster of the pledge is hung at the chief’s building (pictured above) and a poster is kept with the group (pictured in this Peace Pledge Video – April 2016). The presence of the poster outside of the chief’s building, as well as hearing others reciting it, has raised questions from those outside of the cooperatives, spurring broader discussions about peace promotion and conflict prevention in the community.
- Programmatic Spillover – The project implementing partner, SEND Ghana, has also seen some positive spillovers from the pledges in their other programs in the community. Specifically, the SEND Ghana team has noticed changes in their Gender Farming Program. Their team articulated that the pledges have made some of the discussions around gender equality and empowerment in this program more salient as the pledges have reinforced notions of individual respect.
We look forward to learning and sharing more on this project in the coming months! For the next update on this project, and all SIRLab projects and events, follow us @SIR_Lab.