Mediation Meeting with town elders

EWMI’s Senior Legal Advisor, Mark Dietrich and PFL’s Executive Director, Rev. Francis Kollie prepare for program launch

Mediation Specialist, Laurie Cooper, speaks with guards at the Firestone Prison Guardhouse

January 2010
EWMI Launches Conflict Mitigation Program in Liberia

In January 2010, the East-West Management Institute (EWMI) commenced the two year Community and Detainee Reconciliation in Liberian Localities (C-DRILL) Program. Funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and implemented with its sub-grantee, Prison Fellowships Liberia (PFL), the project will seek to mitigate conflict in Liberia through a community outreach and mediation program focusing on three key areas that have emerged as being of vital concern in Liberia’s reconstruction: land disputes, gender based violence (GBV), and integration of returning soldiers. Land disputes in particular are becoming a flashpoint for further violence, and GBV continues to be a scourge upon the post-conflict landscape. EWMI and PFL will train a core group of 24 mediators who will then engage in public outreach discussions with leaders and citizens in four targeted counties (Montserrado, Margibi, Bong, and Grand Bassa) in order to address some of the root causes of violence, and to educate citizens and leaders on how to resolve disputes relating to these issues before violence erupts. We also plan on developing a series of comic books that will educate the public regarding the above three key issues in an entertaining and dramatic way. An innovative aspect of the project incorporates PFL’s on-going work to facilitate the release of pre-trial detainees who have been held in detention for periods beyond the legal limit from prisons in the four localities where C-DRILL will operate. This will ameliorate prison overcrowding, and further inform our mediators about emerging causes of conflict, enabling them to better help resolve disputes before they become violent.