The tools I have acquired are not just about pixels and how to publish posts, but they symbolize a beacon of hope”: STRIVE Juvenile Nigeria works with YPCs to strengthen their capacity on social media, art & animation for peacebuilding

The growing use and popularity of social media is an opportunity for a unique and innovative approach to advocacy that empowers children and young people. In Nigeria, children and young individuals aged 0-30 make up 70% of the population. By integrating this demographic into advocacy platforms and encouraging meaningful participation, the world has an opportunity to turbocharge its efforts in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals, especially in promoting peace and security.  


Social media is unfortunately also used by terrorist and violent extremist groups. for recruiting, spreading propaganda, and disseminating hate, misinformation and false promises. Children and young people are the ones most targeted online by these groups. However, social media can also be a key tool for peacebuilding. Empowering children and young people on the effective use of media, including technological tools, is crucial to creating an alternative narrative and promoting peace, especially in conflict-affected regions.  


In Nigeria, particularly in Borno State, children and young people are often caught in the crossfire of violent attacks by Boko Haram and other groups. Regrettably, they have also been excluded from decision-making and formal and traditional peacebuilding processes. Yet, there can be no effective peace-building approach without the active involvement of children and young people.  


That’s why, as part of STRIVE Juvenile Nigeria’s Awareness Raising Campaign, tagged “#SeeTheChild”, 16 Youth Peace Champions (YPCs) – aged 18 to 30, are engaged within the community and eager to contribute to the peacebuilding process to ensure inclusivity.  


As part of this campaign, from 1 to 10 August, the STRIVE Juvenile team in Nigeria worked with 16 Youth Peace Champions (YPCs) in Jere and Maiduguri Municipal Capital Local Government Areas in Borno State to strengthen their capacity on the use of social media, art and animation for peacebuilding.  


The Youth Peace Champions (YPCs) participated in hands-on training sessions that focused on the basics of creating art and animation, with the objective of using these skills as engaging means for promoting peace and community building. They were also exposed to the use of technological tools in detecting fake news, misinformation, and disinformation.  


During the two-week training workshop, the YPCs were empowered to provide alternative messaging, particularly leveraging the new media to advocate for peace and building community resilience. They gained skills to apply in their peacebuilding work within their communities, both during STRIVE Juvenile project and beyond.   


Reflecting on the impact of the training, Umar Bakari Muhammed, one of the Youth Peace Champions, stated: “Over the couple of days, the canvas of my skills has been broadened and enriched with the hues of social media, artistry, and animation. The tools I have acquired are not just about pixels and how to publish posts, but they symbolize a beacon of hope, a platform from which we can illuminate alternative narratives that transcend the shadows of conflict.” 


STRIVE Juvenile: Preventing and Responding to Violence against Children by Terrorist and Violent Extremist Groups is funded by the European Union, and implemented by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) in three partner countries- Indonesia, Iraq and Nigeria. STRIVE Juvenile works with children and youth; and develops and implements comprehensive national responses to prevent and counter terrorism and violent extremism affecting children, in full respect of human rights, gender equality and international law. As such STRIVE forms integral part of UNODC’s 2030 Strategic Vision for Nigeria and its objective of promoting initiatives to support the victims of terrorism, in particular women and children recruited and exploited by terrorist organisations.