The security situation in the West African Sahel region has been deteriorating for years: The increasing influence of armed Islamist groups has destabilized the region and several neighbouring countries. It has led to refugee movements and political upheavals, for example in Mali, Niger, Guinea and Burkina Faso. Spill-over effects can now also be seen in border regions of Senegal, Benin and Togo. Third actors such as Russia are also active in the region, not only with armed mercenaries, but also with propaganda and disinformation campaigns. Such campaigns deliberately fuel narratives that use existing lines of conflict in the country to stir up hatred between population groups and, in the case of Russian propaganda, to discredit Western countries. Once such narratives have become deeply embedded in everyday communication, violence becomes an option and often a reality.
One conclusion to be drawn from this is that conflict prevention must focus more on taking an early look at the narratives that are disseminated in communication between people in order to prevent the outbreak of open hostilities.
Narrative Management for Peace through Dialogue (NAMA4PD) is a direct response and a practical application of the comprehensive approach to counter disinformation, propaganda and the erosion of social cohesion.
The NAMA4PD concept has developed over the past four years and during numerous workshops of the Common Effort Community.
Initial activities in Ghana and Gambia, funded by the Hanns-Seidel Foundation, have been laying the groundwork for the further practical development of the Narrative Management Project in West Africa and the Sahel region in 2021. Since 2022 the Bavarian State Chancellery is funding the implementation of NAMA4PD in Senegal, executed by Project Lighthouse Africa in cooperation with Freie Universität Berlin and the Senegalese civil society organization ADHIS. The Ostbayerische Technische Hochschule Regensburg is administratively supporting the project.
The NAMA4PD logic for building and strengthening resilience against destabilizing propaganda and disinformation is currently being tested in the Sahel region but can in principle be applied to all conflict contexts. It aims to secure peace in the long term and can therefore make a significant contribution to political and economic stabilization.
For further details please contact LTC Matthias Duchscherer, head NAMA4PD working group.