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Customary Characters in Uncustomary Circumstances: The Case of Burkina Faso's Est Region

16 Feb 2022
Long read by Anna Schmauder

Cet article est également disponible en français.

For the past four years, Burkina Faso’s eastern region has been the theater of violent extremist expansion. Rather than a mere spillover dynamic, violent extremist organizations (VEOs) have successfully implanted themselves in eastern communities, exploiting widespread grievances against the central state and local elites amid decades of state neglect and prevailing hierarchical socioeconomic relations. As the interface between the neighboring Sahelian states of Mali and Niger and coastal states of Benin and Togo, understanding the drivers and limitations of community resilience against violent extremism in the Est region constitutes an urgent endeavor in the quest to counter and prevent violent extremism. This report focuses on the role of customary governance actors – traditional chiefs and religious leaders – to assess their contribution to community resilience against violent extremism. To understand their contribution, this report delves into data collected in five selected municipalities, building on a total of 246 surveys with community members and 137 key informants. These municipalities are Fada N’Gourma, the capital of the Est region, as well as Bogandé, Diabo, Gayéri, and Kantchari.

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