What is the role of local faith actors (LFAs) in the pursuit of SDG 16, the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, providing access to justice for all and building effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels? This report seeks to answer this question drawing on original research conducted in Nigeria’s Middle Belt region from October to December 2022.

Nigeria’s Middle Belt region is a highly religious region experiencing a range of humanitarian, development, and peace challenges. From the ongoing Boko Haram insurgency and humanitarian crisis in the northeast, to violent conflict between farmers and herders in Benue, and banditry in Kaduna, the region’s challenges are as diverse as its people. Across the region, however, there is a common thread – the importance of religion. While religion has long been recognized as important in the region, how do local faith actors contribute to peace, justice, and an inclusive society in this context, and what lessons do current practices offer for future HDP work?

This report seeks to provide robust evidence and recommendations on engaging LFAs for sustainable development in the context of Nigeria’s Middle Belt region. This study draws on research conducted across 12 of the 14 states in the Middle Belt. These states are Plateau, Benue, Kogi, Taraba, Nasarawa, Niger, Southern Kaduna, Southern Borno, Southern Bauchi, Southern Gombe, Southern Yobe and Southern Adamawa. It is based on a survey of 413 community members, 124 key informant interviews with local faith actors, implementing partners, and community members, and focus group discussions with 177 people.

In summary, this study shows evidence that LFAs have contributed positively to HDP work in the Middle Belt region and that there is potential to increase their contributions. Specifically, the results indicate that funding for HDP efforts and trainings on technical skills, program management, and Do No Harm may expand the ways LFAs are able to effectively contribute to HDP work beyond peacebuilding efforts. These findings, challenges and recommendations are laid out in the following section.

This research project was carried out between October to December 2022 by MyIT Consult Ltd. The research was made possible by the GIZ Sector Programme on Religion and Development, part of the International Partnership on Religion and Sustainable Development (PaRD). PaRD brings together partners from all over the globe in order to harness the positive impact of religion and values in sustainable development and humanitarian assistance. PaRD members are governmental and multilateral entities active in the field of religion and development as well as humanitarian assistance, and also include civil society and non-governmental organizations such as religious and value-driven organizations, secular NGOs, community initiatives, foundations, academic institutions, and other development organizations. The opinions, findings, and conclusions stated in this report are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of GIZ or PaRD.

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