In Ghana, just like other peaceful nations, citizens are able to go about freely to do their economic activities, that feed millions of people.
But new threats including violent extremism, particularly in the Sahel and the West African sub-region pose grave threats to Ghana’s democratic governance, social cohesion, and peaceful co-existence. These threats coupled with recent trends of crimes, conflicts and violence have necessitated the development of a national framework for preventing/countering violent extremism and terrorism in Ghana. The framework prioritized prevention as the optimal and preferred option to address the threats of violent-extremism and its implication for civil order and peacebuilding in the country.
Within the national framework, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with the National Peace Council, have trained key stakeholders in selected border communities in Ghana on how to identify early warning signs and prevent violent extremism to foster and maintain peace in Ghana.
Speaking at the workshops, Dr. Angela Lusigi, Resident Representative of UNDP, noted that Ghana is a beacon of peace in the sub-region and in Africa because of its strong democratic and development gains. However, land and chieftaincy conflicts, crimes driven by small arms proliferation and the increasing cases of political vigilantism, and violent extremism in the sub-region can undermine the country’s peace credentials. She noted that conflicts are often preceded by unresolved disagreements & disputes, hence the urgent need to identify these signs and indicators early to mitigate and prevent them.
“Each one of us can make an important contribution to sustain peace. We must help to identify the early signs of conflict and radicalization in order to facilitate timely mitigation and response”, Dr. Lusigi stressed.
Similarly, during the training workshop at Aflao in the Volta Region, the Paramount Chief of Aflao, Togbui Adzonugaga Amenya Fiti V, emphasized the need for more investment in the prevention of conflicts. He noted that “no one is born violent extremist, but radicals are made and fueled by certain societal factors, so we must work collectively to protect the borders against any external aggression”.
Speaking at the event in the Kassena Nankana West District in the Upper East Region, Mr Ali Anankpieng, the Upper East Regional Peace Council Executive Secretary, noted that “threat of violent extremism reaching southwards toward the Gulf of Guinea haunts many West African countries, including Ghana, hence the need to build the capacity of stakeholders on peace building”.
The training was particularly significant as it has enlightened participants on useful tips for early warning about conflict situations and how to report them. They were advised to provide timely, reliable, verifiable, and accurate information to facilitate early response and mitigation.
“I have gained more knowledge from this training which I will send back to my community. I will collaborate with the security agencies in my community so we mobilize the youth to revive the defunct watch dog committee to identify early warning conflict signs for the necessary mitigation action”, noted Dzame Veronica, a participant and a Youth and Women Organizer in Aflao in the Volta Region.
The workshop engaged stakeholders including local government officials, Civil Society Organizations (CSOs), local leaders, youth, and women from at risk communities in the Ketu South Municipality in the Volta Region and in the Kassena Nankana West District of the Upper East Region, which are along major border areas in Ghana.