Minister hails UNDP’s Mobile Application on Tackling Extremist Narratives

Accra� Mr Ambrose Dery, the Minister of Interior, has hailed the United Nations Development Programme’s (UNDP) Toolkit Mobile Application on Tackling Extremist Narratives in Sub-Saharan Africa.

The UNDP Africa Toolkit, which was unveiled on Thursday in Accra, provides mobile resources for civil society organisations and development professionals working in Africa, involved in tackling violent extremism to develop effective communications strategies and interventions to alter and affect prevalent narratives encouraging violent extremism. .

Funded by Japan, the UNDP’s mobile application builds on the findings of the seminal study on Journey to Extremisms: Drivers, Incentives and Tipping Point for Recruitment.

The first of its kind, the application provides a comprehensive set of tools to develop effective communication strategies, focusing on analysis, strategy and management.

The mobile application is a practical and step-by-step guide on the strategic and communications elements from basic concepts of narrative to campaign planning.

It incorporates a number of case studies, tips, templates and online resources.

Once downloaded onto an android phone, the application can work without internet connection.

Mr Dery expressed joy that there was an opportunity for Ghana to add another mechanism, to its preventive approach with the UNDP mobile application.

It is my hope that the Civil Society groups who have proved key partners in Ghana’s development will collaborate with the appropriate stakeholders such as religious and traditional leaders, the media, youth groups and Security experts among others to change the narrative around violent extremism, he said.

The global upsurge in violent extremism and terrorism with its fatal impact and displacement has fast become a source of great concern for the entire world.

He said Statistics from the Global Terrorism Index (GTI) indicates that, in a period of 10 years between the year 2000 and 2010, a 1,700 terror related activities were recorded globally with approximately 9,000 deaths and some 7,000 injuries.

Worryingly, in the past six years there has been an upsurge in these figures. Between 2011 and February 2016, the frequency of terror attacks more than tripled from 1,700 to nearly 6,000 resulting in 44,000 deaths and 11,000 injuries, he said.

Besides the loss of life and property, it is estimated that the global economic costs of violent extremism totalled approximately $90 billion as at the end of 2015.

Mr Dery said Ghana as a country had been blessed, as it had not witnessed any extremist attacks so far.

He said the government was conscious of the potential dangers that violent extremism posed to the country’s socioeconomic development; hence, it had adopted numerous mechanisms to ensure that it was prevented.

He mentioned that one of such measures was providing training for security agencies in the detection and prevention of violent extremism.

The Minister praised the Kofi Anan International Peace Keeping and Training Centre for organising regular courses on Preventing and Countering Violent extremism.

He said the government was also supporting the national infrastructure for peace particularly the Peace Council to play its role of conflict prevention and mediation.

This is because, one key factor for violent extremism is the presence of intractable conflicts, particularly when parties in the conflict feel there is no platform on which their grievances can be resolved, he said.

He noted that the platform that the National Peace Council and its decentralised offices provided in conflict prevention and mediation was being strengthened to ensure that local conflicts were managed to minimise the chances of possible extremist activities.

Mr Tsutomu Himeno, Japan’s Ambassador to Ghana, said he was hopeful that the toolkit would make a very huge impact in preventing violent extremism in Africa.

Mr Lamin Momodou Manneh, Director, United Nations Development Programme Regional Service Centre for Africa, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, said the toolkit would be disseminated throughout UNDP Country Offices and Regional Hubs, UN sister entities and other partners, including outside the UN system.

Dr Christine Evans-Klock, the UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Ghana, to prevent violent extremism, there was the need to massively accelerate positive messaging to build cohesion, positive partnership and provide alternative measures as preventive, as well as remedial strategies.

Dr Mohammed Ibn Chambas, Special Representative of the Secretary General and Head of the United Nations Office for West Africa and the Sahel, said the battle against violent extremism needed to be won at the local level as most messaging of violent extremist was built on grievances found within communities.

Source: Ghana News Agency