Faith organisations play an important role in shaping youth behaviours and influencing their life choices. Faith leaders and their institutions wield immense power and opportunity to influence their followership. Indeed, religion remains a crucial component of people’s identities and contributes to moral, socio-political, and economic transformation (Agbiji and Swart, 2015). Existing evidence shows that faith organisations hold sway unmatched by other social institutions in Africa. This is largely attributed to their mix of charismatic leadership, institutional networks, and provision of social services, including education and health. Moreover, they have an authority inherent in their systems of worldviews, beliefs, morals, and ethics.
This publication interrogates the relevance of interventions by faith-based organisations (FBOs) in orienting youth behaviour toward building an environment where different religious, cultural, and ethnic communities coexist peacefully. Broadly, African cultures confer older people more important and respected socio-cultural roles. These roles are linked with either greater or fewer rewards, including power and influence. Therefore, just as in other social institutions where the elderly generation is the most dominant group, this also applies to faith organisations. The older generations occupy and control the positions of leadership, power, and influence. Deprived of power and influence, the youth sometimes resort to alternative means – including violence – of expressing their voices.
The paper is an empirical review of baseline and endline studies, project reports, and other documents from faith organisations that implemented interfaith activities within the framework of the Communities Richer in Diversity (CRID) project. The review adduces empirical evidence that demonstrates how those interfaith activities shaped the behaviours of the youth in six African countries. To access the evidence, the researchers synthesised nine empirical enquiries conducted in Burundi, Egypt, Kenya, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda. It also analysed more than 30 project reports which document the activities that the faith organisations implemented and the outputs, outcomes, and impacts they achieved. The paper organises the review around three selected themes: cultural approaches, community peacebuilding, and social relations
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Communities Richer in Diversity (CRID)
The four-year Communities Richer in Diversity project (CRID) aims at leveraging the influence of faith leaders and institutions to promote cultural diversity and respect for equal dignity in six African countries, namely, Burundi, Egypt, Kenya, South Sudan, Uganda, and Tanzania. It was initiated by a consortium of faith-based organisations and networks, including Faith to Action Network (F2A), Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa (CAPA), African Council of Religious Leaders-Religion for Peace (ACRL-RfP), and All Africa Conference of Churches (AACC) with financial support from the European Union (EU). The project started in April 2018, and by 31 March 2021, six-country partners had reached at least 25,000 young men and women with interfaith and intercultural interventions. Such interventions enhanced the understanding, tolerance, and respect for cultural and religious diversity among the project participants and beneficiaries in the six countries. The activities can be categorised into four broad areas: edutainment and performance arts, peer education and capacity enhancement, community peacebuilding, and shaping of public discourse.