Helvetas empowers project teams with Conflict Sensitivity Training

May 15, 2023

Helvetas recently organized an engaging three-day training program on conflict sensitivity in Pristina, from 10-12 May. The training was attended by the management and technical teams from various projects in the region, including DEMOS and EYE in Kosovo, Bashki të Forta and RISI in Albania, and PRAGG in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Guided by Helvetas’ strong commitment to principles such as gender and social equity, human rights, good governance, and conflict sensitivity, the training aimed to equip participants not only with the basic skills to analyze and understand the local context, assess program interactions with the environment, and adapt actions accordingly, i.e. conflict-sensitive project management, but mostly to sensitise and train participants about the importance of being conflict-sensitive as an individual.

The training sessions were conducted by Regula Gattiker, Senior Advisor on Conflict Transformation from Helvetas HQ.

“Conflict sensitivity is an institutional approach in Helvetas that all the countries need to apply because it is very important for sustainability and effectiveness of all projects that we do. Conflict sensitivity is a way to avoid having negative impact on conflict situations in the society or the community that we work in and increase our positive impact”, she said.

Throughout the training, participants engaged in personal reflection, exploring their identities, perceptions, and how these influence their attitudes and behaviors. They gained insights into collecting information in a conflict-sensitive manner, behaving in a conflict-sensitive way, understanding, and effectively communicating with others, and deepening their knowledge of non-violent communication.

Reflecting on the experience, Gattiker described the participants’ response to the training as very interested and active:

“I realize that in the first place, they were surprised about the content and its relevance for their contexts. So, they got very much engaged, shared their personal stories and relevant conflict cases from their everyday work, shared their views on current political challenges and had heated discussions about how what we practiced in the training could be useful for dealing with the challenges they are facing. It was a rich experience, with serious discussions, but also a lot of fun”, added Regula Gattiker.

This marked the first time this training was organized in the region. Ertan Munoglu, Country Manager of Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation Kosovo, expressed the training’s usefulness.

“Economic and political inequalities, exclusion and indirect violence are challenges in a lot of countries in the region which influence our work. This training was very important to raise awareness about the importance of a conflict sensitive approach and equip us with tools to better manage conflictuous situations. We had very engaging three days and expect that application of the newly gained knowledge and skills will maximize the impact of our efforts”, he said.

Mikela Gjapi, who joined Helvetas Swiss Intercooperation Albania eight months ago as a Gender and Social Inclusion Specialist for the RISI Albanian project, found the training highly valuable for her role.

“Where there are people, there are conflicts for sure, so I think it is very useful for us to use the conflict sensitivity approach in everyday life and everyday work, because we understand better how to work with our colleagues, how to approach to them and maybe to give solutions to some problems that we think that they are there but actually they are because of non-proper communication”, said Mikela.

The three-day training on conflict sensitivity will be followed by an online session to ensure participants are applying the lessons learned and sharing their experiences. Participants also expressed the need and wish for some follow-up training, and a more systematic integration of conflict sensitivity into their work. The steps for this follow-up will be discussed further both in the countries which were represented at the workshop, as well as on the regional level.