The Sirigu Women’s Organisation for Pottery and Art (SWOPA) has been lauded for playing a critical role in the promotion of peace and stability in wake of the land disputes in Doba and Kandiga in the Upper East Region.
Since 2019, residents of Doba in the Kassena-Nankana Municipal and Kandiga in the Kassena-Nankana West District had been involved in violent communal land dispute, leading to the loss of lives and properties.
The situation also led to disruption in economic activities, access to education and agriculture and prevented residents, especially women and children from accessing social amenities, including from neighboring markets.
SWOPA, a non-governmental organisation with funding from Canada Fund for Local Initiatives began the implementation of a peace project dubbed, “leveraging community connections to build sustainable peace and conflict resolution: the role of Poyaasi and Isi” in six communities in Kassena-Nankana Municipal and Kassena-Nankana West District.
The project, among other things, empowered women groups in the communities to play critical roles to resolving conflicts and maintaining peace in their communities of marriage and their paternal communities.
“Poyaasi” in Gurune language refers to women married to a particular community while “Isi” refers to their children (both boys and girls) born in the marriage therefore “Poyaasi” and “Isi” concept is to build inter-community crosscutting ties for sustainable peace.
As part of the activities of the “Poyaasi” and “Isi” groups, a food festival characterised by cultural performances was organised by the Mirigu Poyaasi and Isi in Kandiga and supported by SWOPA.
For the first time since the start of Doba and Kandiga conflict, Doba women and their children were able to move to Kandiga to attend the festival.
Speaking to Ghana News Agency on the sidelines of the celebration, Madam Margaret Ayelwaa Ayaba, leader of the Doba Women, expressed joy about the gradual normalization of ties between Doba and Kandiga following a resolve by themselves to live in peace with each other.
She further expressed her gratitude to all the stakeholders, particularly SWOPA, for contributing to the peace they were enjoying currently.
Apart from loss of lives and properties, she said, the conflict brought untold hardships to vulnerable women and children, truncated the education of their children and prevented the women from engaging in economic activities such as farming and trading.
“For many months there has been relative peace and we know that is a result of the work of SWOPA and our traditional authorities, so we are appealing to the neighbouring chiefs to continue to engage the two chiefs (Doba and Kandiga) to smoke the peace pipe and completely resolve the land dispute so that we can return to how we used to be, living in peace and working together.”
Madam Akaabisa Azamo, leader of Kandiga women’s group, said women and children were the most affected during the conflict and noted that it was imperative for stakeholders, including traditional authorities, to detect and resolve small differences early to prevent them from escalating into conflicts.
“It is our hope that the peace efforts by SWOPA and the traditional leaders, particularly Naba Atogumdeya Roland Akwara III, the Paramount Chief of Sirigu, will not witness any setbacks but will completely resolve the issue forever. We need peace, and absolute peace of course,” she added.
Naba Henry Abawine Amenga-Etego II, Chief of Kandiga, noted that the dispute was an unfortunate incident that should not be repeated in the future and reiterated his commitment to the peace process and efforts to ensure the two communities lived in peace.
Ms Bridget Adongo Akasise, Manageress of SWOPA, said women were peace makers by nature and added that the project intended to employ the influence of women to promote and maintain peace in their homes and paternal communities for sustained development.