CECI Uganda promotes peace, self-reliance and dignity in refugee and host communities by empowering youth, women, and girls with the tools to build resilience, prevent conflicts, rebuild livelihoods, and participate actively in local leadership, peacebuilding, and development.
Mission and Purpose
To promote peace, self-reliance and dignity through recreational activities, education and other innovations going beyond relief and development.
Origins and Development
Our journey began in 2016, when our founder and vision bearer, Patrick Chandiga Justine Abure, fled his home in Yei, South Sudan, due to the outbreak of war, becoming a third-generation refugee. He faced hate speech, discrimination, and violence due to his ethnicity in Rhino Refugee Settlement, Uganda, where he sought refuge.
After finding safety in Koboko and becoming a Christian evangelist, Patrick found a new purpose – to help bridge divides and unite refugee communities for peace, reconciliation, and tolerance. In May 2017, while serving as a full-time Evangelist of Koboko Seventh-Day Adventist Church, he founded the Community Empowerment for Creative Innovation – CECI Uganda, to tackle conflict tensions and ethnic cleavages arising from ethnic discrimination, cultural intolerance, hate speech, resource access and utilization, trauma and limited employment opportunities in refugee communities.
He mobilized a team of refugees who shared his vision of promoting peace and self-reliance in their communities through education, innovation, and recreational activities. They were from diverse ethnicities, professions, and backgrounds, but all were united in their commitment to fighting discrimination and violence.
On August 14, 2017, Patrick, along with Vita Geofrey, Dominic Wani, Baba Michael Nigo, Juma Robert John Paul, and Hakim Bosco, registered CECI Uganda as a Community-Based Organization (Reg. No. 563/124) with the Koboko District Local Government. Later, they incorporated it as a Company Limited by Guarantee (Reg. No. 80020002697777). This milestone marked a new phase of growth and impact for CECI in preventing, reducing, and transforming conflicts through locally-led innovations in peacebuilding, education, livelihood, and environmental sustainability.
Since then, we have been working with 58,524 youth, women and girls to stop violence and increase social cohesion among and between refugees and host communities. We campaigned against all forms of hate speech and incitement to violence and provided community-based and data-driven solutions to the problem of hate speech, disinformation, and misinformation. We have also strengthened local peace structures to respond to and prevent conflicts, rebuilt the livelihoods of 5,951 youth, women and girls, increased their safety and wellbeing, and improved access to education for over 5000 children.
Our focus on empowering youth and women to participate actively in local leadership, peacebuilding, and development has been unwavering. Today, we have expanded our services to benefit 147,098 refugees and hosts in Koboko, Yumbe, and Obongi districts. We are strengthening their participation by increasing access to education, financial resources, knowledge and skills in conflict resolution and peacebuilding, business, technology, entrepreneurship, and vocational training.
Organizational Structure, Membership, and Funding
CECI is run by a team of skilled, competent, and experienced personnel headed by an Executive Director who is Secretary to the Board of Directors – a supreme body of the organization after the General Assembly. The Board, consisting of 5 members, is the custodian of all policies, formulates and reviews them and approves them as laws that the management implements in the interest of the organization.
Specializations, Methods and Tools
Strengthening the role of youth and women in preventing and resolving conflicts in refugee and host communities by promoting peaceful dispute resolution and reconciliation and building and increasing peaceful coexistence and social cohesion through peace education, hate speech mitigation, media literacy, dialogues, music, trauma healing, community outreach, and conflict management and resolution.
Improving primary and accelerated education access for women and girls and early childhood development programs for children by promoting girl child education and early childhood development through advocacy, menstrual hygiene management, public health promotion, children educational radio programming, scholarships and scholastic materials support, and community awareness, education, and empowerment in gender-based violence prevention.
Building skills that support peace and development, resilience, and employability among youth and women in refugee and host communities through vocational, business, and entrepreneurial skilling, design thinking, women and girls technological empowerment, and the provision of capital to start, scale, and grow their income-generating activities.
Engaging youth and women in community-led environmental conservation and climate action in refugee and host communities to promote environmental sustainability by educating communities, promoting tree planting, use of alternative fuel sources, and proper waste disposal and management, and strengthening local environment protection structures through training and grants.
Major Projects and Events
Covid-19 Innovation Prize: CECI has been a leader in the effort to promote peace and respond to the needs caused by the COVID-19 pandemic in Koboko and Bidibidi Refugee Settlement. In 2020, CECI received the COVID-19 Innovation Prize from the Response Innovation Lab hosted at Save the Children in recognition of CECI’s innovative work and impact in increasing access to information, online schooling, personal protective equipment, and livelihood support for 50,789 youth, children, women and girls, men, elderly, and PWDs and for promoting peaceful coexistence in refugee and host communities.
Historic Multi-year Grant: In January 2020, CECI secured its first 3-year project in partnership with Koboko Municipal Council, funded by the European Union. The "CRRF: Inclusive Urban Development and Mobility in the Municipality of Koboko" aims to reduce inequalities, increase safety, and promote well-being within the municipality. To date, this project has positioned CECI as a key player in promoting sustainable development and community empowerment and has empowered 4,524 women, youth, children, students, teachers, and persons with disabilities with knowledge and skills in business, public health, gender-based violence, sports, debating, and provided them with start-up capital.
Humanitarian, Development and Peace Nexus: In 2022, CECI secured two projects as part of its commitment to addressing immediate needs and the underlying factors contributing to conflict and instability in the communities it serves. The first project, a 5-year initiative with War Child Canada and funded by the Master Card Foundation, titled "Bridge from Secondary education and skills development to job opportunities for refugees and host community youth in Koboko, Uganda", aims to address high youth unemployment rates by providing 1,242 young people with the necessary skills and training to secure stable employment opportunities. The second project, a 4-year initiative called "Peacebuilding Initiatives" with OXFAM, aims to strengthen women's participation in leadership and peacebuilding activities by equipping over 183 women and men with knowledge and skills in gender transformative leadership, human rights, and peacebuilding at the local level.
Analysis and Lessons Learned