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Preventing and Containing Violent Extremism in Northern Ghana: A Baseline Study

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A recent study conducted in eight regions of Northern Ghana has revealed that more than 70% of participants would advise their family members or friends against joining extremist groups. The study, funded by the European Union and conducted by the National Commission for Civic Education (NCCE), aimed to understand the attitudes and behaviours of communities and at-risk groups towards violent extremism and other forms of violence in the region.

Out of the 1,351 primary-level study participants, only 11 respondents were willing to encourage their friends or family members to engage in violent extremist activities. This demonstrates a strong level of tolerance and willingness to coexist with people of different backgrounds and political affiliations in Northern Ghana.

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The study found that education and sensitization programs are critical to creating awareness among community members about violent extremism and detecting signs of extremist activities in communities. It also observed that tribal politics, political vigilantism, and discrimination among political parties must be eschewed to prevent violent extremism in the country.

Furthermore, the study recommended that the government should adequately resource state institutions, particularly security agencies, to fight against violent extremism. Intensive and targeted education for the youth is also crucial to prevent them from being radicalized or influencing others to join extremist groups. The government and private sector should provide more employment avenues, particularly for the youth, to prevent them from being susceptible to the influence of extremist groups.

The study also revealed that institutional structures and units, such as the counter-terrorism unit, exist in institutions such as the National Investigations Bureau, Ghana Immigration Service, and the Ghana Armed Forces to deal with issues related to violent extremism and terrorism. However, there were no focal persons at the security agencies to spearhead activities related to violent extremism.

For the most part, the study indicates a strong willingness among Northern Ghanaians to coexist with people of varied backgrounds and beliefs. It highlights the importance of education and sensitization programs, resource allocation for state institutions, and employment avenues for the youth in preventing and containing violent extremism in Northern Ghana.

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