CEP Program: Preventing Violent Extremism in Tanzania


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The Counter Extremism Project (CEP)’s Community Awareness Program for Preventing Violent Extremism in Tanzania (CAPPTAN) was a U.S. State Department-supported initiative that was implemented in 2017 and 2018. The program worked to equip Tanzanian civil society stakeholders with the knowledge and tools to identify and prevent violent extremism (PVE) in their communities.

CAPPTAN brought PVE experts from around the world to Tanzania to train civil society actors—i.e. members of civil society organizations (CSOs), faith-based organizations (FBOs), and local government officials—in the foundational concepts of violent extremism (VE) and PVE. CAPPTAN training topics included PVE through education; the media’s responsibility in PVE; women’s roles in VE and PVE; the misuse of religion; religious engagement in PVE; the unique vulnerabilities of marginalized communities; the case of Somalia and al-Shabab; national and regional PVE strategies; and methods of enhancing community resilience. Expert trainers also guide trainees in conceiving and developing relevant PVE initiatives to launch or incorporate into existing programming.

CAPPTAN’s trainings occurred approximately monthly in five regions throughout Tanzania: Arusha, Dar es Salaam, Morogoro, Tanga, and Zanzibar. CEP trained more than 60 partners—more than 20 in Dar es Salaam, and 10 partners in each of the four other regions—who work in fields such as youth-development, education, media, gender equality, health, and peace promotion.

In August and September 2017, expert trainer Adam Matan—a prominent voice from the U.K.’s Somali diaspora—led two CAPPTAN trainings, one in Dar es Salaam and one in Tanga Region. Matan taught partners about al-Shabab’s recruitment methods, the divisive consequences of tribalism, and how to employ practical solutions to counter the vulnerabilities of marginalized communities. He began by asking each civil society actor about his or her area of work, and peppered his lecture with group discussions and break-away activities—encouraging partners to share relevant experiences from their respective communities.

In addition to Adam Matan, trainers have included Hassan Ndugwa, co-founder of Uganda Muslim Youth Development Forum, Dr. Muli Peleg, professor of conflict analysis and resolution at Rutgers College, Hajer Sharief, co-founder of Women’s International League for Peace & Freedom in Libya, and Fatma Ahmed, an associate of the Intergovernmental Authority of Development’s PVE program based in Djibouti. CAPPTAN partners have also been trained by Tanzanian national Hashim Pondenza, who spearheads PVE activities in Zanzibar with his organization Center for Youth Dialogue. Following CAPPTAN trainings, civil society actors in each region engaged in “dialogue days” to further explore the training material.

Through the 22-month CAPPTAN training program, CEP reached approximately 55 civil society organizations (CSOs), faith-based organizations (FBOs), and local government officials in five regions across Tanzania. CEP also built five regional networks of PVE-trained civil society actors—helping to foster community cohesion, resilience, and cooperation on PVE efforts. Furthermore, CAPPTAN trainings equipped partner organizations with (a) the knowledge to launch their own PVE programming, and (b) the qualifications to consult with the Tanzanian government or other entities on domestic VE issues. The bolstering of civil society participation in the PVE space is critical as part of a strong counterterrorism strategy in Tanzania.

In June 2018, CEP convened CAPPTAN trainees to present and discuss recommendations for PVE with officials from the U.S. Embassy and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Hosted by the U.S. Embassy, the event took place at the American Corner inside the National Library in Dar es Salaam. It was attended by 20 national participants representing 17 civil society organizations in Dar es Salaam, as well as 12 regional participants representing 12 organizations in Arusha, Morogoro, Tanga, Zanzibar. Officials from the U.S. State Department in Tanzania and UNDP’s Tanzania PVE program were also in attendance.

The event marked the culmination of CAPPTAN and provided local partners with an opportunity to highlight PVE recommendations developed during the training series. Designed for the Tanzanian government, public institutions, civil society, and the private sector, the recommendations are intended for implementation at the national level or are specifically geared toward CEP’s four implementation regions. 

Through the CAPPTAN program, CEP has succeeded in providing networks of local civil society actors with foundational PVE knowledge and the skills to launch their own unique PVE programming. CEP believes that civil society plays an indispensable role in combating extremism—but their endeavors must be supported by smart policy changes and programming at the national, regional, and district levels.

To learn more about CEP’s final CAPPTAN program report, please click here.