Supporting Traditional Leaders and Local Structures to Mitigate Community-Level Conflict in Zimbabwe

This project aimed to promote peace at the community level by training traditional leaders in human rights and mediation skills. Implemented in two districts in Manicaland, Eastern Zimbabwe, the program aimed to increase traditional leaders’ capacity to perform their roles effectively and to contribute to conflict mitigation within their communities. The evaluation examined the effects of training village heads on reducing conflict, increasing interpersonal trust, and increasing political participation within villages. In addition to studying the effectiveness of training village heads, the study examined whether training is more effective if structured in a way that creates social pressure on traditional leaders to change their behavior, i.e., if other local leaders also participate in the training. The results suggest that training village heads alone had no effect but when trained along with other community leaders, village heads were more knowledgeable and consultative. However, training a wider group of leaders also resulted in increased knowledge of political threats and decreased social trust. This suggests that there are trade-offs between consultation and social cohesion must be carefully considered. 

The Airbel Impact Lab at IRC is a team of researchers, strategists and innovators committed to the accelerated design, rigorous evaluation and cost-effective scaling of the most impactful solutions supporting people affected by crisis.