Disarmament of the heart – Promoting young people’s mental health and psychosocial well-being

The Disarmament of the heart projects focus was to strengthen the youth in engaging in peace and reconciliation.


The Issue

Civilians have been heavily affected by decades of conflict and socio-political crisis in the Central African Republic (CAR). Many children and young people have been directly affected by death, injury, displacement, and involvement with armed groups resulting in the loss of property, family, and dignity. According to a 2010 CAR mental health survey, more than half of the population suffers from anxiety and depression, a figure that is likely to have increased with the various crises the country has experienced since. For young people, fear and trauma are an obstacle to breaking cycles of revenge and fear and rebuilding relationships through conflict.

The Project

The objective of the project is to increase the readiness and confidence of young people to engage in peace and reconciliation processes in CAR, by addressing their trauma and psychosocial. With the 2013 crisis, many people fled their homes and found refuge in Kaga Bandoro, one of the project’s target communes. Young people who have access to mental health and psychosocial support will be able to increase their resilience and strengthen ties to their communities to act as leaders of change. The project targets young women and men working in the informal economy (street vendors, motorbike taxi drivers, farmers, etc.) who are affected by the conflict dynamics.

The Change

DCA decided to work in a consortium with three other organisations, to focus its approach in a more localised way and closer to the needs. The partnership with Conciliation Resources is strategic; the organisation has proven expertise in mental health and psychosocial support. Verca and the Vegas Foundation allow for a more grassroots approach, with a solid knowledge of the context of the area. Conflict-affected youth, especially those in the informal economy, will be able to address their mental health and psychosocial support needs and will be supported by local authorities and communities to take positive steps to break cycles of fear and revenge. They will use their increased resilience and strengthened connection to their communities to act as agents of peaceful change. DCA places the beneficiaries at the centre of the project cycle, involving them directly in decision-making, in the analysis of conflicts in their communities and in the solutions to resolve the conflicts. For socio-economic support, they are the decision-makers for their future. DCA and its partners accompany the young people in their professional projects while letting them engage in the path of their choice.

The Results

Conflict analysis and peacebuilding action plan developed with 40 young leaders and validated with their 760 peers and local authorities

Training of 16 community counsellors and 40 youth leaders in psychosocial first aid.

Support to 40 youth groups to identify income generating activities, and training of trainers for our partners to start training the youth Identification and setting up of seven spaces to set up Cognitive Behavioral Trauma therapy and psychosocial counselling spaces

About this project

Full title: Disarmament of the heart – Promoting young people’s mental health and psychosocial well-being to build a peaceful future for the Central African Republic

Period: 01/03/2022 – 31/08/2023

Partners: Vision Enfant République Centrafricaine (VERCA), Fondation Vegas Jeunes pour le Développement (FVJD), Conciliation Resources (CR)

Funding: 1,500,000 USD

Donor: United Nations Peacebuilding Fund

Twitter LinkedIn Facebook