From Borders to Borderlands

Borderlands are often space where the nexus between economic development, conflict, crime, politics and identity are at its most dynamic. Breaking the State-centric nature in which most organisations and country-structures operate, borderlands provide a significant challenge for engagement that has yet to be addressed in a meaningful way. As agencies, organisations, donors have and still struggle with the complexities of borderlands beyond securitised approaches, this presentation will hopefully shed a few learnings from DDG’s decade of borderlands work in protracted conflict zones and share how, practically, we were able to move from a “border” to a “borderlands” lens. This will be drawn from DDG’s work in the Uganda-Kenya-Somalia (Karamoja cluster and Mandera triangle); the Sahel (Liptako Gouma region) and the Tunisia-Libya border (Ben Guerdane, Dehiba, Zuwara, Nalut, and Wazin).

DDG’s approach to promoting stability and development in borderlands areas, like DDG’s overall approach is community-driven and protection-focused. It is important to acknowledge that in protracted conflict contexts, the central government and the Borderlanders tend to have very different perceptions of “borders”, their lived and historical experience. Furthermore, national governments usually lack the capacity and resources to effectively put in place mechanisms to facilitate cross-border and regional coordination to address security threats and promote holistic development. In these contexts particularly, there is an important space for external actors to promote local voices and solutions as well as to allow governments to better respond to communities’ needs.

This presentation will focus on the main challenges for practitioners working in borderlands; main achievements/solutions during this last ten years in the three regions mentioned and finally, key lessons learnt and recommendations for future work.

As the regional technical lead for Security and Governance in East Africa and the Great Lakes for the Danish Refugee Council/Danish Demining Group, Natasha Leite guides and expands impact-oriented programming. She provides technical guidance and support to country-level project teams in violence reduction interventions and framework. Natasha Leite is a peacebuilding and rule of law professional offering a proven track record of fourteen years delivering results in Latin America, the Caribbean, Sub-Saharan Africa and the Pacific.

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