“Our partners have made it possible for us to stay flexible during the pandemic”
Having worked in countries like Brazil, Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), CMI’s Senior Project Manager Janna Greve has a vast experience of building peace. Now Greve manages CMI’s project in the Lake Chad Basin in Africa’s Sahel. The project addresses the root causes of violence in a region plagued by weak governance, poverty and the toll of climate change on people’s livelihoods.
CMI’s Senior Project Manager Janna Greve had been with CMI’s Brussels office and lived in the city for only two months, when the Covid-19 pandemic hit, and countries all over the world responded with heavy restrictions on movement. “I am only now starting to get to know the city better and to begin my integration properly”.
Having worked in countries like Brazil, Colombia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Janna has a vast experience of development cooperation, humanitarian affairs and the monitoring of transitional justice measures of peace processes. “When I worked in North Kivu, DRC and later in Medellín, Colombia, I saw how important it is to address also the root causes of conflict, which is exactly what CMI focuses on.”
Senior Project Manager
Sub-Saharan Africa unit
“Finnish culture in general was very new to me but also fascinating, I knew fairly little about the country before moving there”.
She was keen to learn about the Finnish way of life, but also about how government and ministries operate and engage with civil society. “In a way Finland has this silent, humble approach, and makes a quite significant impact in certain key areas for such a small country”, Janna notes.
“On a personal level, I really enjoyed the sauna culture and the beautiful nature”, she adds.
Moving to Brussels makes it easier for her to engage with the EU and other regional institutions. “There is definitely a possibility for additional professional growth here”.
Supporting regional dialogue
When Janna started working with CMI’s Sub-Saharan Africa unit, she began by managing CMI’s project and partnership with the African Union. Later, she focused on CMI’s engagement in the Lake Chad Basin, and now manages CMI’s project in the region and contributes to the analysis of peace and security in the wider Sahel.
The Lake Chad Basin spans four countries: Cameroon, Chad, Niger and Nigeria. The regional crisis in the region has continued for many years. Durable solutions for it require regional cooperation and joint, cross-border efforts. The crisis is not only related to the growing impact of armed Islamist groups, but is also spurred by other root causes of conflict, such as weak governance, poverty and the toll of climate change on people’s livelihoods.
“The region has few opportunities for young people, and limited scope for the meaningful participation of civil society. This makes it difficult, especially for young people and women, to engage in policy debate and decision-making processes”, says Janna.
CMI’s work relies on the commitment of key regional stakeholders. By respecting local ownership and enhancing inclusivity, CMI paves the way for the sustainability of conflict prevention and resolution efforts.
“To ensure complementarity and our added value, we regularly exchange or cooperate with a range of regional and international actors, like the Youth Network of the Lake Chad Region, whose work we support”.
In the Lake Chad Basin, CMI makes use of inclusive cross-border dialogue platforms.
“These platforms offer a place for the regional actors to assess common challenges and interests. They can also assess joint solutions, develop ways of collaborating, and learn with and from each other”.
Exploring creative ways to use technology
Flexibility has been key during the first half of this year amidst the pressures posed by the spread of Covid-19.
“CMI is a trusted actor, and our partners, including the Finnish and Swedish foreign ministries, have made it possible for us to build on this trust and remain flexible enough to adapt to new situations, including the pandemic”, Janna stresses.
Janna’s team has three experts of different nationality and living in different countries. Even before the pandemic the team was used to working together remotely, including for regular exchanges with the Head of the Sub-Saharan-Africa unit and other CMI colleagues based in Helsinki.
“It has been interesting to explore what kinds of technological means we could use more creatively, and how dialogue can be supported in different ways”, Janna says.
But she says that nothing beats having proper face-to-face meetings.
“I have always liked working from home because it makes it easier to concentrate. On the other hand, I have definitely missed spontaneous exchanges with colleagues at the office.”
The lockdown restrictions in Brussels have been relaxed and Janna can more freely explore her new hometown.
“Everyone is now just hoping that there will be no second wave of Covid-19 infections here, and that things will not become even harder for the people in the different regions where CMI works.”
Peace Notes is CMI’s series of short accounts of CMI staff in different regions. In each article a staff member describes their work and how the global coronavirus pandemic impacts the situation they work with.