Founded in 2005, the Centre for Research and Development (CRD) works in the rural communities of Manicaland Province to reduce political violence and build sustainable peace. At its formation, CRD carried out civic education programmes in Mutasa South, Mutasa Central, Mutare Central, Mutare South and Makoni West.
After the 2008 violent elections when people lost their sources of livelihood in the forms of cattle, land and homes and were forced out of their communities and driven to neighbouring countries, the organisation expanded its reach to include the Nyanga and Chimanimani districts. Some of the people in these districts had become prisoners in their own communities as they were forced to pay protection fees by dominant political groups for their continued stay.
CRD’s civic education programme is aimed at educating people on peace, conflict resolution, political tolerance and human rights. The programme also aims to boost the communities’ knowledge and understanding on peacebuilding mechanisms that are vital to reducing all forms of violence and promoting sustainable peace and development. Today, the programme’s target groups are traditional leadership institutions, community leaders, church leaders, councillors, political parties, Government representatives, women, youth and other Non-Governmental Organisations or developmental partners working in these communities.
The civic education program is conducted through rural and urban workshops, public meetings, community exchange programs and seminars where communities are educated and trained in 5 thematic areas:
- human rights and good governance;
- civil and political rights;
- conflict resolution and conflict management;
- peacebuilding; and
- gender mainstreaming and women’s issues.
Under the human rights and governance theme traditional leaders, councillors, youth, women and pastors among other community leaders are trained on leadership for development and the tenets of good governance.
Under the peacebuilding theme, CRD makes a strong link between the achievement of sustainable peace and community development. Thus the organisation encourages community projects. The gender mainstreaming and women’s issues theme acknowledges that women are oppressed by men due to cultural, religious and other social constructs. One mechanism to promote the rights of women is to empower them through women centered community development.