By Victoria Ojeme
The Economic Community of West African States, ECOWAS, the European Union, EU and the government of Germany have put in place a new 20.4 million Euro fund security outfit for the West African region.
The ECOWAS Peace and Security Architecture and Operations (EPSAO) Project, implemented by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ GmbH) was formally launched in Abuja yesterday.
Mr Kurt Cornelis, the Head of Cooperation of the EU Delegation to Nigeria and ECOWAS, said “the overall goal of this Project is to prevent and manage conflicts and security threats in West Africa.”
He said the specific objectives of the project are to: 1) Strengthen ECOWAS’s mechanisms to promote and maintain peace and stability and post crisis operations; 2) Enable ECOWAS to manage erupting or existing conflicts. 3) Contribute to the creation of a secure and safe post conflict environment.
The project is in line with the 2014 Africa-EU Roadmap, in which the both sides pledged to “increase cooperation in addressing the root causes of conflict and cross-cutting issues of common concern such as terrorism and related threats and transnational organised crime”.
Co-funded by the European Union, the project is under the Regional Indicative Programme/11th European Development Fund (RIP/11th EDF) and the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).
The four–year project, with a total budget of 20.400.000 euros, closely works with the ECOWAS Commission , Member States, and civil society groups to enhance regional capacities and responses in the fields of mediation, peace support operations and security sector reform.
It supports the establishment of early warning/early response centres in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, The Gambia, Togo and Guinea, thus bridging national and regional efforts to identify and mitigate conflicts as early as possible. The support for these centres is part of a wider project focus to support ECOWAS’ efforts to work with Member States in further strengthening inclusive, national and cross-sectional structures and processes to address crises and build sustainable peace.
In an effort to improve planning processes and deployment readiness for peace support operations, the project will also enhance cooperation and coordination between the ECOWAS Commission and its regional Training Centres of Excellence and Training Institutions (TCEs/TIs).
The project will also assist ECOWAS with promoting its Security Sector Reform and Governance policy and providing guidance to Member States who are involved in processes towards the reform of their security sectors.