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Roots of Conflicts and Lasting Peace in Africa: IPPNW Affiliates Prioritize Prevention

April 19, 2018

by Kelvin Kibet, IPPNW International Student Representative

The hope for future sustainable peace in Africa is prevention. Amidst all the violent conflicts in multiple countries, including but not limited to Mali, Somalia, Central African Republic, Nigeria, South Sudan and Ethiopia, we have to realize that without addressing the very roots of conflicts in these countries we may not stand a chance at lasting peace. We will perennially have long, drawn out wars as is the case in some of the aforementioned countries.

Contrary to popular narratives that have led to responding to violence with military action, local people are surprisingly open to dialogue on “weighty” topics such as guns and wars. In line with IPPNW’s Aiming for Prevention, African affiliates in Nigeria, Kenya and Zambia are leading the way in projects aimed at preventing violence and this is working incredibly well.

Open Forum on Arms Control, Kenya

This past weekend in Nairobi, Kenya, I had the opportunity to  represent the voice of youth in the First Open Forum on Arms Control in Kenya alongside Dr. Peter Mburu

Africa forum 1

IPPNW Kenya’s Dr. Peter Mburu and Kelvin Kibet (far right and far left, respectively) alongside other panelists at forum

our Kenya  IPPNW affiliate chair. The event was organized by the Association of Physicians and Medical Workers for Social Responsibility (IPPNW Kenya) in partnership with the Kenya National Debate Council and Community Podium Initiative, and was sponsored generously by the Control Arms Coalition. It was attended by more than 100 mainly university students andyoung adults.

Despite our pre-forum fears that such a serious topic might scare young participants, we were very impressed both by the attendance and the enthusiasm among youth to

Africa forum 2

Participants on stage preparing for debate on the priority between arms control and climate change

contribute to controlling arms in Kenya. They were engaged in panel discussions, quiz challenges and a debate. Impressively, most participants grasped core concepts of the Arms Trade Treaty and the positions of countries in East Africa on the treaty. This left us motivated to continue bringing the conversation out of closed meetings to the open public.

Bringing Peace to the People via Radio in Nigeria

Meanwhile, a radio show project is soaring high in Nigeria created and conducted by the Society of Nigerian Doctors for the Welfare of Mankind including Drs. David Onazi, Emeka Okolo and Mansur Ramalan. The Bringing Peace to the People radio shows aim at creating awareness about the public health costs of armed violence and public health approaches to prevention. Find a comprehensive blog post on the project here.

In a country battling with the incessant Boko Haram insurgency, this project is making strides in the right direction to educate youth to reduce radicalization and presents a future of hope for Nigerians who would rather build their country than self-destruct it. The project, supported and funded by PSR Finland in conjunction the Mazda Makes Things Better Award, shows clearly how and armed violence is a lose-lose situation, especially regarding  public health benefits previously enjoyed by any two warring sides.

Medical Peace Work an organizing strategy to rebuild Zambia affiliate

IPPNW’s Zambian affiliate Zambian Healthworkers for Social Responsibility is rebuilding with great hope after the death of former leader Dr. Bob Mtonga and the establishment of the Mtonga Memorial Fund, under the leadership of a new and enthusiastic executive committee led by Dr. Masiku Phiri.  I have been assisting the students’ movement through the regional student representative, Everlyne Achieng, by enrolling students in Medical Peace Work online courses to start in May. In a relatively peaceful country, I think it is important to create a culture of non-violent communication to solve any potential conflicts.

Struggle for peace and prosperity in Africa continues

In conclusion, African nations are in still in transition post-colonially. In this period, most countries are still struggling to find systems that blend in with preexisting cultures. This is a potentially high conflict period not unique to African countries alone. Aiming for Prevention is what African countries need at the moment to solve ongoing violent conflicts through dialogue and prevent future conflicts from turning violent.  It is upon  IPPNW to be continuously creative in our solutions and shape them to reflect current needs of Africa and beyond. After all, “peace is not the absence of war but the presence of mutual understanding and cooperation.” Albert Einstein.

For more on student work in Africa, visit, Facebook page and web site 

One Comment
  1. Daniel permalink
    May 1, 2018 11:33 am

    This is excellent work IPPNW Africa is doing. Keep up!

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