The population of the three regions in northern Ghana constitutes about 17.24% of Ghana’s total population (source: 2010 Ghana population census reports). Ethnically, the three northern regions alone contain about 30 of the 52 indigenous, linguistically and culturally distinct ethnic groups in the country. Northern Ghana is home to most of the violent and protracted inter-communal conflicts in Ghana. Between 1980 and 2015, the three regions recorded over 36 violent conflicts. Competition for power and resources manifests in chieftaincy, ethnic, and land conflicts. In addition, there are conflicts over the right of citizenship and equitable access to and participation in political and decision-making processes. The conflicts have been a bane to the development efforts of an already disadvantaged part of the country where 70% of the people live below the poverty line.
Historically, responses to inter-communal violence in Northern Ghana by government and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) were ad hoc, did not address the root causes of contention, and, therefore, were unsustainable.
In 1999, the Catholic Diocese of Damongo, Ghana Program of Catholic Relief Services, and the relief and development agency of the United States Catholic Conference of Bishops piloted a peacebuilding project — the Northern Ghana Peacebuilding and Conflict Transformation Project (NGPBCT). NGPBCT sought to create awareness of the causes of conflicts and promote peaceful coexistence among the people of Northern Ghana. The long-term goal was to create a peace center to provide a comprehensive set of services that supported peacebuilding and conflict transformation initiatives in the three regions of northern Ghana. The Center for Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies (CECOTAPS) was born in 2003.
Building on the achievements and experiences learned in the first phase of the NGPBCT project, the Center for Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies (CECOTAPS) was created in 2003 to promote a culture of peace through grassroots peacebuilding and conflict transformation initiatives. CECOTAPS has six main objectives:
- Develop in-depth training programs and support services in conflict resolution in Northern Ghana
- Establish satellite peacebuilidng centers (SPCs) in Northern Ghana
- Enhance good governance at the District Assembly level by training Assembly members and Traditional leaders in peacebuilding and conflict transformation
- Establish community-based peace committees to provide quick and systematic responses to conflict situations
- Build the capacity of communities for active non-violence and peace education
- Set up peace education programs in schools as part of the comprehensive approach to sustainable peace
In 2009, CECOTAPS expanded its efforts and focused on building the capacity of grassroots peace actors with emphasis on women and youth.
Since its inception, CECOTAPS has created awareness about the root causes of numerous ethnic and chieftaincy conflicts. It has also built capacities within church-based organizations, local government institutions, traditional political structures, local NGOs and community-based organizations to engage in constructive conflict prevention, transformation and peacebuilding. CECOTAPS has trained hundreds of local peacebuilders – giving them concrete skills in areas such as conflict analysis, peacebuilding, mediation, and interfaith dialogue. The Center has worked collaboratively with other NGOs to promote dialogue in conflict zones. CECOTAPS has provided on-the-ground support to those developing concrete means to resolve conflicts through peaceful methods in Bawku, Yendi, Bimbila, Tamale, Damongo, Wa, and surrounding areas. The Center has catalyzed the growth of peacebuilding and conflict resolution, culminating in the formation of the Ghana Network for Peacebuilding (GHANEP), now WANEP-Ghana. Our USAID-funded pilot project with the District Assembly Peace Councils has led to the creation of the National Peace Council in Ghana.
Read more about CECOPTAPS’ work here.
72 Africa was born out of the groundwork and successful efforts of the NGPBCT and CECOTAPS. 72 Africa is a U.S.-based non-profit organization that focuses on resolving existing conflicts and preventing future conflicts through a holistic, community-based approach. 72 Africa’s main operational components are based at the Center for Conflict Transformation and Peace Studies (CECOTAPS) in Damongo, Northern Region, Ghana.
Read more about 72 Africa here.