The KBF Africa Prize 2020-21 has been awarded to Elman Peace of Somalia in recognition of the organisation’s successful efforts to combat violence and promote social justice. Its record of empowering and cultivating leadership skills among women and young people is outstanding.
The KBF Africa Prize committee at the King Baudouin Foundation believes solutions adopted by Elman Peace in Somalia have the potential to inspire other societies, in Africa and beyond, to put conflict behind them and find and follow a more inclusive path.
“Elman Peace has helped thousands of young Somalis rebuild their lives after being drawn into civil conflict and has developed unique programmes to give women and youth a greater voice in society,” selection committee chair Koen Vervaeke said. “The work of Fartuun Adan with her daughter Ilwad Elman, continuing work begun by her late husband Elman Ali Ahmed 30 years ago, offers lessons on how building peace demands strong local engagement and deep foundations in society.”
“This recognition means a lot to us. It is important to put the scale of suffering in Somalia on the global map, including now when drought and climate change are creating new threats to security,” said Ilwad Elman, chief operating officer of the Mogadishu-based non-profit. “What matters to us is providing timely responses – peace is so much more than an absence of war.”
The organisation, and the family, have shared in the sufferings of fellow Somalis. Adan fled her homeland with their three young daughters. Her husband remained and was murdered in 1996. Ten years later, Adan returned from refuge in Canada to resume his work and was followed by their daughters. The eldest, Almaas, was also killed, in 2019.
Now with 38 permanent staff and close to 200 other colleagues based in Mogadishu and eight regional branches across Somalia, Elman Peace has a range of programmes, run locally by young, committed, and professional teams, working closely with their communities.
Notable among these is Drop the Gun, Pick up the Pen to draw children and teenagers away from armed groups by providing education. With Sister Somalia, Elman Peace has provided the first rape crisis centres in the country. The She Will programme delivers resources for educating teenage girls. Elman Peace also sets store by care for the mental wellbeing of those affected by conflict, offering therapies, including meditation, yoga and sport.
It aims to use some of the KBF award, to be presented in Brussels on June 16 in the presence of HM King Philippe, to further develop care programmes for frontline peace activists.
Established to reward outstanding contributions to development in Africa, initiated and led by Africans, the KBF Africa Prize draws public attention to the many inspirational stories, challenges, and successes on the continent. It is awarded every other year and provides a grant of 200,000 euros as well as opportunities to develop global contacts and partnerships.
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