3RD Workshop on Developing Community Resilience and Moving Forward Steps (DECORAMS) for affected communities in Maiduguri, Borno state On Positive Reconciliation: Towards effective Re-integration and lasting peace Saturday, 13th to Wednesday 19th January, 2024


In an effort to promote reconciliation and lasting peace, the third Developing Community Resilience and Moving Forward Steps (DECORAMS) training was held in Maiduguri, Borno State, from 13th to 19th of January 2024, bringing together 70 participants, comprising 50 of victim community members and 20 returned ex-fighters The training spanned five days, with the initial two days dedicated to preparatory sessions, empowering participants to articulate their concerns and respond empathetically. The concluding day was the joint development of an action plan aimed at building lasting connections. The training aimed to combine the culprits and the victims and to facilitate positive reconciliation – healing, confession and apology, forgiveness and peace-building among them. The training was based on a carefully developed tool that can provide a helpful, positive, peaceful, empathetic, interesting, and deeply engaging relationship.

Broad Objective

To foster community support for reconciliation efforts, discourage the victims’ desire for revenge, and facilitate the restoration of peace in the affected communities.

Specific Objective

To foster understanding, trust and open communication between ex-fighters and community members which clears misconceptions, promotes reconciliation, and provides tools for effective reintegration into society

Preparatory Training:

The first two days of the training focused on equipping both community members and former combatants with essential communication skills. Participants engaged in exercises designed to help them express their grievances constructively and understand the perspectives of the other party. Role-playing scenarios allowed them to navigate sensitive topics, preparing a safe space for dialogue.

Joint Training

The preparatory training followed by joint trainings which consisted of four sessions:

Understanding Conflict and Its Impacts. The facilitator judiciously explained conflict and its causes, types, and stages. He also discussed the positive and negative impacts of conflict on individuals, communities, and societies, and identified the sources and consequences of the specific conflict that the participants have experienced or witnessed. Finally, the facilitator encouraged the participants to share their personal stories and feelings about the conflict, and listen empathetically to each other.

Exploring Reconciliation and Its Challenges, Practicing Reconciliation and Its Skills, and Planning Reconciliation and Its Actions. In this presentation, reconciliation and its dimensions, such as truth, justice, forgiveness, and healing; the benefits and challenges of reconciliation for individuals, communities, and societies were discussed. The facilitator also identified the barriers and opportunities for reconciliation in the specific context of the participants and finally encouraged the participants to reflect on their attitudes and actions towards reconciliation, and acknowledge the difficulties and dilemmas they may face.

Trauma Management and common misconceptions about restorative justice were also presented.

The training used a variety of methods, such as lectures, discussions, stories, role-plays, simulations and exercises.

The training was facilitated by two experienced mediators lead facilitators and two co-facilitators who ensured a safe, respectful, and participatory learning environment; and witnessed by many stakeholders, scholars, prominent community leaders and supporting staff etc.

Interface Meeting

During the preparatory training, representatives were selected from both parties, with 15 individuals selected from the communities and 5 from the ex-fighters while remaining members served as spectators and observers. They were seated facing each other, and the lead facilitator officially began the meeting by setting the agenda of the meeting, letting participants understand the purpose of the meeting, the issues to be discussed, and an action plan as the key output of the meeting. The facilitator also spoke about the expected mode of discussions, expectations and moderated the session while avoiding it from heated debates that could derail the meeting. The meeting was commenced with an opening prayer led by one of the members of Committee of Stakeholders (CoS).

Community Presentation

The community representative (s) comprehensively presented their issues without interjection from the offenders’ side because they know that they would have the opportunity to respond to the issues raised by the community. The lead facilitator encouraged the community representatives to provide as many vivid examples as possible of the issues they raised for discussion and to ask for more examples from the rest of the members to give the issues raised as much focus as possible. After every issue (out of the 8 issues) is presented, the offenders were given a chance to respond to the issue raised and a short discussion followed to allow for inclusiveness and possible conclusions.

Offenders’ Presentation

After the community has finalized presenting their issues, the facilitator invites representative from the offenders’ side to present their issues. Part of the offenders’ presentation involved a direct response to some issues raised by the community representatives.

The facilitator allows for an exchange of perspectives on the issues raised despite that most of the issues were somehow emotive. Facilitators, Committee of Stakeholders (CoS) and Council of Wise (CoW) were on the lookout to manage any discussions that could threaten to derail the meeting. The facilitators avoided taking any sides during the discussions and offered both sides an equal opportunity to present their cases. The facilitators also ensured that community members, particularly the usually marginalized among them – women and youth, were allowed to speak and the meeting was not dominated by some of either religious or community leaders, who were likely to be more vocal than members of the community.

Impact on Community Members:

The training had a profound impact on the community members, who gained a deeper understanding of the complexities surrounding the experiences of former combatants. Enhanced communication skills and the ability to express concerns openly led to a reduction in stigma and an increased willingness to engage in meaningful conversations. Community members reported feeling more empowered to contribute positively to the reconciliation process.  

Impact on the ex-fighters:

For the former combatants, the training provided a platform to share their narratives and challenges which clear most of the misconceptions and rumors. By actively participating in discussions, they felt acknowledged and valued, leading to a sense of belonging. The acquired communication skills enabled them to express remorse and articulate their intentions for reintegration into society. As a result, they experienced reduced feelings of isolation and increased hope for a better future.


The training achieved the following results:

  • The participants gained a better understanding of the causes, types, stages, impacts, and consequences of the conflict that they have experienced or witnessed.
  • The participants developed a positive attitude and a willingness to engage in a positive reconciliation with each other.
  • The participants learned and practiced the skills and strategies for reconciliation, such as communication, dialogue, negotiation, mediation, and restorative justice.
  • The participants created and presented their own action plans for reconciliation in their communities, which included micro projects that they will execute jointly.
  • The training also received positive feedback and evaluation from the participants, who expressed their satisfaction, appreciation, and gratitude for the opportunity to learn and interact with each other.
  • After the two groups jointly developed an action plan, all participants witnessed a powerful moment as two ex-fighters took a courageous step forward and earnestly asked for forgiveness from the community members. The impact of this effective apology was evident as tears streamed down the faces of many participants while the second ex-fighter offered his heartfelt apology.
  • During the tea break, the returnees approached the supporting staff and expressed their desire to serve the community instead of being served by the supporting staff team. This really demonstrated their genuine commitment to the community as has been reiterated in the presentations.
  • During the interface meeting, a member of the Committee of Stakeholders (CoS) expressed that he initially thought that it would be impossible to hold a dialogue between BH ex-fighters and community members without any conflicts or disturbances. However, after witnessing the successful outcome of the meeting and seeing how the ex-fighters sought forgiveness, he was impressed and said he personally forgave everything that was done to him by the ex-fighters. He also promised to convey the impact of the meeting to the Council of Ulama of Maiduguri, of which he is the current Secretary for more support and possible replication.
  • Additionally, two members of the Council of Wise (CoW) who participated in the Ulema Conference organized by DAAC in 2022, expressed their surprise and amazement at the tremendous success achieved during the interface meeting. [Further details of their comments will be included in the FGD transcription and Monitoring and Evaluation analysis]


The following recommendations were made for the future improvement and sustainability of the training:

  • The training should be extended to more days and more participants, to allow for more depth and breadth of the topics and the interactions.
  • The training should be supported by follow-up activities and monitoring, to ensure the implementation and evaluation of the action plans and the micro projects.
  • The training should be complemented by other interventions and initiatives, such as psycho-social support, livelihood assistance, and community development

Joint Action Plan:

On the final day, participants collaboratively developed an action plan, outlining tangible steps for building stronger relationships between the community and former combatants. The plan included initiatives such as training programs, community outreach, and ongoing dialogue sessions. This joint effort symbolized a commitment to sustainable peace-building and social cohesion.

See the Joint Action Plan and some other comments in the Excel documents attached.

Challenges and Limitations

The training also had some challenges and limitations, such as time constraints, language barriers, emotional triggers, and logistical issues.

Conclusion: The training in Maiduguri emerged as a transformative experience, fostering understanding and empathy between community members and former BH combatants. By addressing the root causes of conflict and facilitating open dialogue, the participants paved the way for a more inclusive and harmonious community. The joint action plan serves as a roadmap for continued efforts in building lasting connections and preventing the recurrence of violence.