Across Northern Nigeria, extremist personalities seek to erode trust in national and social institutions, as well as tolerance across religious groups, to drive recruitment and support for violent non-state actors. This is especially prevalent in Kaduna State, where communities’ lack of trust in the government’s ability to protect their lives and livelihoods reduces local contributions to development and makes these populations even more vulnerable to further exploitation by extremists. This presents a risk through both organized extremist groups, but also through individuals as isolated intra-communal clashes can quickly escalate into broader violence.

Religiously motivated violence in Kaduna disproportionately affects youth, who are especially vulnerable to both recruitment, by extremist groups, and incitement to individual acts of violence as they experience high rates of unemployment, poverty, social exclusion, and political underrepresentation. Through this project, The Kukah Centre in partnership with Plan International aims to strengthen the technical peace-building and project management skills of young leaders in Kaduna State and works with them to launch initiatives that build tolerance in their home communities. They will create a Kaduna State Youth Peace-building Academy (KSYPA) that serves as a center of excellence for young leaders aged 18 to 35 to develop the technical and project management skills necessary to design and lead peace-building processes, as well as a place for young leaders to meet with other young leaders from different ethnic, religious, and social backgrounds to exchange ideas and experiences.

The final outcome is to improve the abilities of 120 young leaders from diverse religious and ethnic backgrounds in Nigeria’s Kaduna State to lead initiatives that build peace and tolerance in their communities. It will support six cohorts of these leaders to implement initiatives that they design, enabling them to drive a locally rooted process that builds inter-communal tolerance.