Bringing communities together to address threats

Hello SoA supporters,

We are supporting efforts to empower local governance and bring communities together to address security concerns in Diffa, Niger.

Diffa has been affected by the scourge of Boko Haram since the first cross-border attacks in February 2015. Bombings, kidnappings, and looting have become commonplace in the entire Lake Chad Region and have created a situation that, if left unchecked, will surely spread. Fortunately, local leaders in Diffa are attempting to incite change and bring security back to the region. To truly achieve lasting results, a whole of community approach is necessary.

One on one conversations following meetings between security forces and civilians demonstrate the collaboration that will defeat Boko Haram.

This whole of community approach to security is – with your help – happening and truly making a difference. A US Army special operations team and their partners in the Nigerien army are bringing communities together to discuss, and ultimately address insecurities that allow Boko Haram to maintain a foothold in the region. Empowering communities to say “enough is enough” and stand up against a group that kidnaps girls from schools and forces them to marry fighters, attacks markets, and illegally taxes legitimate commerce sounds like a lofty goal, but if the right approach is taken, success is possible. The idea that many hands make for light work directly applies to this situation. If communities can unify their efforts with the support of local government, the Nigerien Army, US special operations, and Spirit of America, lasting change is on the horizon.

A Nigerien soldier explains how they can work together to stop Boko Haram.

An example of this success can be seen in a recent regional tribal leader engagement that allowed leaders striving for change to meet, talk, and collaborate. One of the key points of discussion was how to encourage Boko Haram members to defect and successfully reintegrate them back into the community. This meeting was made possible by the responsiveness and flexibility of SoA and the strong partners we have on the ground. The outcome of meetings such as these have drastically improved the security and the economy within the region. People are traveling back to the Diffa for trade and business and are again able to grow crops, raise cattle, and transport agricultural goods to market. The economic improvement is significant and decreases the effectiveness of Boko Haram’s propaganda and recruiting. Because of the increased security, young girls and boys have returned to school and are receiving education on a consistent basis. With children returning to school, parents no longer have to stay home and protect their family allowing them to return to work. All this is made possible through collaboration and a whole of community approach.

A group of local men discuss concerns with Nigerien military leaders.

Your help and continued support to efforts like this one ensures progress will continue, ensuring the success of our deployed service members and allowing every donor to become part of the team hard at work stabilizing a region. Thank you again for all you do.

Until next time,
Nick

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