Enhancing citizen’s capacity to analyze
Research and Advocacy is a crosscutting pillar supporting applied research and advocacy across the NAR program. Research will be used to establish baselines and to inform programming and advocacy activities.
It is in line with NAR’s mission “To enhance citizens’ capacity to analyze the root causes of conflict and facilitate dialogue and appreciate diversity among citizens in order to generate ideas and activities that work towards sustainable peace and socioeconomic development”,
In the past, a number of research projects were successfully undertaken. These include:
- The Mapping of Actors and Approaches in Societal Healing (2015)
- Governing with and for Citizens (2016)
- The case study on psychosocial approaches to healing (2017).
The Mapping of Actors and Approaches (2015) gave us access to an array of approaches used by different actors engaged in societal healing. Each of the approaches has merits and demerits. By exploring all, we were able to advice on what approach we had to use in our societal healing interventions in post – genocide Rwanda. The Governing with and for Citizens (2016) explored how citizens participate in governance in post- genocide Rwanda. The findings suggest that the government has put in place some participation channels; some of which are effective and the other have rooms for improvement.
This report’s findings inspire our programming for the participatory governance axis and evidence based advocacy. It highlighted some gaps and causes to low citizen participation which informed our participatory Governance program the needs of citizens and how to address them through citizen forums. It also recommended topics for further research including the one we are currently planning a study on “Civil Society and Citizen Participation in Rwanda”.
As for the case study on psychosocial support groups, NAR and Interpeace sought to understand the effectiveness of the spaces for peace that use the psychosocial support group approach. It was learnt that the approach allowed for a better understanding of the needs of the members, and that the group sessions were well thought through and supported by the psychotherapists with all the complexities involved in moving towards a healing process. This refers to the creation over time of the safe space environment, which enabled members of the spaces for peace to feel a sense of belonging, trust and confidentially which in itself facilitated members to feel comfortable and confident in sharing with others their personal experiences.
Participatory Action Research
In all the studies we undertake, we use the Participatory Action Research approach. Our stakeholders are not mere participants in the process. They participate in research to understand the root causes of problems that directly impact them, and then take action to influence policies through the dissemination of their findings to policymakers and stakeholders”. We involve women, youth, people with disabilities and other special interest groups. In the process, we understand better, empower stakeholders and reach context aware and feasible recommendations. This gives us an opportunity to contribute to achieving inclusive, equitable and sustainable development for present and future generations.