Sri Lanka inSPIRE | © Helvetas
Sri Lanka, Bangladesh

Supporting Civil Society Actors in Preventing Violent Extremism in Sri Lanka and Bangladesh

© Helvetas

The two South-Asian countries Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, while diverse in many aspects, have been both experiencing a spread of different forms of extremism. Civil society actors can play a pivotal role in counteracting such trends in society by promoting peace and tolerance. Knowing about the powerful role that Civil Society Organizations are able to take, Helvetas and its partners offer mobilization and capacity measurements to support them in fostering dialogue in order to prevent the spread of violent extremism in both countries.

  • Project Name
    CSO PVE Capacity Development in Bangladesh & Sri Lanka
  • Project Phase
    2020 to 2022
  • Funding
    The project is co-funded by the European Union
  • Thematic focus
    Governance, Peace & Migration

In Bangladesh and in Sri Lanka, the youth faces multiple challenges including unemployment, lack of opportunities and space for social and political engagement. Consequently, online radicalization and targeting youth on social media, limited scope for freedom of expression as well as disinformation can lead to recruitment of youth by the extremist groups. 

In both countries, civil society actors are key in contributing to meaningful change of this dynamic as they utilize approaches that look at issues of prevention of violent extremism from a long-term perspective. Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) are highly motivated to approach the problem at its roots and channel the communities’ frustration into constructive and positive messaging to prevent violent extremism. However, the CSOs find themselves with insufficient knowledge and skills as well as capacity and resources to tackle the problem effectively.

That is why, Helvetas, together with its partners Rupantar in Bangladesh and National Peace Council (NPC) in Sri Lanka, supports selected CSOs in both countries to enhance their impact on preventing violent extremism.

In addition to the governments initiatives to prevent radicalization and violent extremism, the project focuses on CSOs as repositories of value-based approaches that emphasize the importance of pluralism and rule of law. Through capacity development on design approaches for the prevention of violent extremism, programming and implementation, monitoring and evaluation as well as complementary and mutual learning, this project counters the push and pull factors of violent extremism of youth in the specific contexts of Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. 

CSO PVE Sri Lanka | © Helvetas Sri Lanka
Inception meetings with the project's civil society partners © Helvetas Sri Lanka
CSO PVE Sri Lanka | © Helvetas Sri Lanka
Distibuting leaflets among District Government Officials to be redistributed to the General Public © Helvetas Sri Lanka
CSO PVE Sri Lanka | © Helvetas Sri Lanka
Donation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) items to District Secretariats to Districts where the PVE Project is implemented © Helvetas Sri Lanka
CSO PVE Sri Lanka | © Helvetas Sri Lanka
Displaying Posters in Ampara District Office Notice Boards © Helvetas Sri Lanka
CSO PVE Sri Lanka | © Helvetas Sri Lanka
PVE Capacity Building Workshop on the 23rd July 2020 © Helvetas Sri Lanka

The CSOs work together with community-based organizations, such as youth organizations, faith-based groups and local women’s organizations to capacitate youth to understand violent extremism and to help identify drivers and to be part of activities to counter violent extremism. Mobilizing multi-sectoral groups, particularly religious leaders and community youth as interlocutors of counter-narratives, contributes to social cohesion across various social, political and religious divides. A special focus lies in creating cross-country learnings and institutional dialogue.

Additionally, the project is responding to the Covid-19 pandemic through adapted activities, including information campaigns to prevent inter-ethnic violence and scapegoating in the context of the Corona virus spread through the distribution of protective clothing and community awareness raising activities.

The project is co-funded by the European Union.

Funded by the European Union

Governance, Peace & Migration

In many countries where we work, men and women are unable to claim their rights and participate actively in decision-making processes.

How Helvetas Supports People in Bangladesh

Preparing for climate change and promoting political participation, especially among women, are among our objectives.

How Helvetas Supports People in Sri Lanka

Helvetas advocates in Sri Lanka for fair and safe conditions in labor migration. We also promote social harmony in the country.