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Resilience through Engagement: <br/> Shaping a Targeted CVE/PVE Programme <br/> in Algeria's Dynamic Terrain

The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, spanning from Morocco in the West to Iran in the East, encapsulates a diverse mix of cultures, languages, and histories. However, in recent years, the region has become synonymous with unrest, violent extremism, and civil strife.
In light of these complexities, the initiative by a British international organisation and its partners to launch a major CVE/PVE programme assumed paramount importance. Funded by an international major funder, the programme sought to build resilience against violent extremist narratives, particularly targeting the vulnerable youth population and emphasizing the role of civil society. The multi-pronged, region-wide approach aimed to provide a robust alternative to the extremist ideologies that had taken root and offered a beacon of hope to the beleaguered communities of MENA.

In the challenging landscape of the MENA region, where many international programmes often employ a generic, one-size-fits-all strategy across different nations, Algeria posed unique challenges that demanded a more tailored approach. This is precisely where our expertise came into play. As a leading player with a deep-rooted understanding of local contexts, we recognized that the dynamics in Algeria varied significantly from other Middle Eastern countries. Rather than mimicking strategies that worked elsewhere, it was imperative to craft an approach specifically tailored to Algeria’s socio-political landscape.

Our prowess in the CVE/PVE domain, bolstered by our team’s extensive experience, proved to be instrumental. Drawing from a rich history in international development, civil society involvement, and through active participation in various TRACK-II think tanks and forums focusing on global threats, we provided insights that were both nuanced and actionable. These circles, which revolved around deciphering and addressing global challenges, enriched our perspective, enabling the team to anticipate potential roadblocks and devise strategies to navigate them.

Approaching the programme, we leveraged our vast network and knowledge base to engage with local stakeholders, from grassroots organizations to influential thought leaders, ensuring that the project resonated with the Algerian populace. Our approach was not just about adapting; it was about innovating within the Algerian context, drawing from multifaceted experiences and ensuring the programme’s objectives were met while staying true to the region’s unique character and challenges.

Phase 1: Comprehensive Research and Data Collection

Initiation involves rigorous research, deploying a team of seasoned experts across the nation. Over a set period, these professionals conduct interviews, hold focus group discussions in key regions, and collaborate with local academic institutions. This groundwork provides a detailed snapshot of prevailing sentiments, challenges, and aspirations of the youth and local communities.

Phase 2: Stakeholder Identification and Engagement

Identifying key stakeholders remains paramount. Time is dedicated to identifying and categorizing local non-profits, grassroots organizations, and key opinion leaders based on influence, reach, and alignment with programme objectives. Simultaneously, preliminary discussions with state actors ensure early buy-in and collaboration.

Phase 3: Capacity Building Workshops

To foster a sense of ownership and facilitate efficient project delivery, capacity-building workshops become essential. These sessions aim to equip local stakeholders with the necessary tools, resources, and knowledge to champion the programme. They serve as platforms for idea exchange, collaboration, and strategy formulation.

Phase 4: Multi-stakeholder Dialogue and Collaboration

Recognizing the necessity of a cohesive effort, dialogues between state actors, including representatives from major ministries, are facilitated. This phase ensures the multistakeholder dimension remains deeply ingrained in the programme’s fabric, promoting shared responsibility and collective action.

Phase 5: Drafting and Refinement

Using insights and feedback gathered, an intensive drafting phase ensues. A dedicated team meticulously structures the national strategy, incorporating best practices, innovative solutions, and localized tactics. Refinements are undertaken, factoring in feedback from key stakeholders, ensuring the strategy remains both robust and adaptable.

Phase 6: Implementation Oversight and M&E System

With the strategy in place, a transition into an oversight role occurs, monitoring the on-ground execution over a set period. A rigorous Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) system tracks progress, identifies challenges in real-time, and ensures course correction when necessary.

Conclusion

Concluding this case study, it becomes evident that the success of international initiatives often hinges on meticulous localization and deep contextual understanding. The complexities of Algeria’s socio-political landscape required a tailor-made approach rather than a one-size-fits-all strategy. Our involvement in this endeavor showcases the significance of blending global expertise with regional insights. By detailing this journey, we aim to highlight the value of adaptive strategy formulation and offer insights to organizations navigating similar challenges, emphasizing that true impact is derived from the harmonious alignment of global objectives with local realities.

Since 2015, the MENA region has been embroiled in tumultuous conflicts, making it the least peaceful region in the world. Statistics reveal startling realities: the region has witnessed a staggering 160% increase in terrorist incidents over the past decade. According to the Global Terrorism Index, countries within the MENA region consistently rank among the top ten most impacted by terrorism. This surge in violent extremism has profound ramifications, not just for regional stability, but for global peace.

A particularly concerning facet of this rise in extremism is the involvement of youth. MENA, which is home to nearly 60% of its population under 30, has seen many of its young people become susceptible to extremist narratives. Once heralded as the champions of the ‘Arab Spring’ and symbols of hope for democratic transitions, a significant portion of this demographic now grapples with disillusionment and socio-economic stagnation. According to a study by the Arab Youth Survey, a considerable 13% of young Arabs admitted they could envisage themselves supporting extremist groups if these groups were to help their communities. This is a stark indicator of the depths of hopelessness and the lack of opportunities felt by the region’s youth.

Adding to the intricate puzzle is the role of civil society. In the MENA region, civil society has traditionally played a crucial role in mediating between governments and their constituents. Yet, the space for civil society operations has shrunk over the years, with numerous organizations facing restrictions. A survey by the Carnegie Middle East Center highlighted that over 70% of civil society organizations in the region faced severe governmental impediments in their operations. This limitation, in turn, restricts the avenues available for grassroots interventions and dialogues essential for countering extremist ideologies.

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