Armed conflict in Western Darfur has destroyed basic infrastructure, leaving communities without access to essential services. Violence may occur at any time—weapons continue to circulate and are easily accessible. In the context of a decade-long ‘state of emergency,’ people survive in continued localized conflicts: Tensions, particularly between internally displaced persons (IDPs) and host communities, arise over access to water, grazing land and health services. Tensions rise as the aid is limited to IDPs, despite host communities demonstrating the same needs.
Civil society actors, religious leaders, community elders and the media pursue a wide range of activities to increase community engagement and promote peace. New mechanisms for dispute resolution are less likely to have deep impact; disputes arising over water are referred to police adjudication, but this process does not reduce the number of reported incidents. The Peace and Community Conflict Resolution Project of Islamic Relief has rehabilitated local committee structures and expanded membership to all affected groups, focusing on shared Islamic faith and the ‘familial’ relationships that can inspire.
Throughout history, faith has provided an enduring motivation for behavioral transformation. Working with local faith communities offers a solid foundation for societal change in diverse contexts. Subcommittees now maintain water facilities and negotiate grazing routes between nomads and pastoralists. The number of disputes sharply reduced as a result, allowing close relationships to form between community members who would not have greeted each other previously. Disputes still arise given the layers of tension in Western Darfur. However, by creating legitimate mechanisms for mitigating the day-to-day competition for resources within the community, and building their capacity, Islamic Relief’s programs offer the potential for community resilience to more complex and emerging conflicts that have the potential for violence.