Network for Empowerment and Progressive Initiative ( NEPI ) - Background and Needs

Network for Empowerment & Progressive Initiative (NEPI), formerly known as the National Ex- combatant Peace Building Initiative, was established initially in 2000 by Klubosumo Johnson Borh and Morlee Gugu Zawoo, Sr. in response to the 14-year civil war in Liberia that conscripted thousands of youth as combatants. Many of these youth were recruited from captured villages and urban slums. The physical and psychosocial effects of the war on these youth and ex-combatants were severe. Many have been conditioned to a culture of violence, lawlessness, lack of respect for the elderly, low self-esteem and self-image, teenage prostitution, drug abuse, and armed banditry.  

NEPI was founded to serve as a catalyst for sustainable peace and development in communities devastated by civil conflict. Our organization has contributed to reducing poverty, socially and economically empower youth, helps war victims improve their coping mechanisms to trauma and fosters relationships between and amongst former fighters, conflicting parties, varying socioeconomic groups, and tribal factions. We promote peace and reconciliation principles as tools to effectively build, strengthen, and promote positive social change within communities and shape policy decisions that recognize and support the most vulnerable populations.  We design all of our programs holistically, considering social, economic, cultural, and traditional solutions, to ensure the communities we serve can manage and sustain their own development. 

As NEPI’s needs evolve, we continue to adapt and improve our methodology. Our program employs various techniques including the Practical Participatory Rural Appraisal (PRA), Four D’s method (Describe, Demonstrate, Develop, and Discuss), lectures, storytelling, slogans, songs, group work, assignments, one-on-one sessions, and follow-up visits. Over the years, we have come to realize that some techniques are more effective than others. Storytelling, for instance, is particularly effective in helping youth reflect upon their lives and build towards their futures. Stories of positive transformations inspire program participants and provide them with hope for lasting change. Listening to the stories of youth, one hears of the failures, frustrations, and triumphs experienced on their quest towards transformation. It is through telling these stories that we become creators of history rather than objects of it. It is through storytelling that we spread a culture of peace.

Situational Analysis / Needs:

The world population reached seven billion On October 31, 2011. Half of this population is under the age of 30, and 1.7 billion are aged 10–24, making this the largest generation in human history. Young people make up an especially large share of the population in developing countries, often the largest share. In many places, this youth generation also spends more time in school, starts work later, and gets married and starts families later than previous ones.

Africa has the greatest proportion of people living in extreme poverty. More than 32 percent or roughly 300 million people living on less than $1 a day. It means that a child in Africa dies of malaria every 30 seconds, and that 1 in 16 women die in childbirth. With these rural communities stuck in a poverty trap, they are unable to make the investments in human capital and infrastructure required to achieve self-sustaining economic growth.

The burden of poverty is heaviest on the lives of women in rural Africa. More than 80% of farmers are women, more than 40% do not have access to education, and AIDS spreads twice as fast among uneducated girls.

Access to simple things like separate latrines for boys and girls and sanitary napkins, which cost as little as one dollar, allows teenage girls to attend school without fear of embarrassment. Most rural schools have no sanitation and as a result, girls miss weeks, months or drop out altogether.

In Sub-Sahara Africa, child and maternal mortality rates are the highest in the world.Nearly one in every 100 births results in the death of a mother and this situation has not change for decades. Rates of child death from pneumonia, diarrhea, malaria, malnutrition and birth complications are 20 times higher than in developed countries and continue to rise in many places. Sub-Sahara Africa is home to two-thirds of global HIV infections, and the numbers of new TB cases which is already the highest in the world, have doubled. The continent also suffers from 350–500 million malaria cases each year, resulting in nearly one million avoidable child deaths.

NEPI programs offer innovative model that allow rural African communities find solution to extreme poverty.  Most of rural Africa’s disease burden can be prevented or treated through the integrated delivery of simple, effective, proven and low-cost interventions.


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