RESOLVE Secretariat
08 April 2020

Community-Based Armed Groups in Sub-Saharan Africa

Community-Based Armed Groups in Sub-Saharan Africa project cover

Launched in partnership with the U.S. Agency for International Development Africa Bureau, the RESOLVE Network initiative in Sub-Saharan Africa aims to provide key stakeholders with contextual information on the dynamics of community-based armed groups (CBAGs) and current, prospective, and past approaches to engage, manage, and transform them. The project grapples with a complicated series of questions and decisions negotiated by stakeholders operating in conflict-affected societies across Sub-Saharan Africa.

Community-Based Armed Groups (CBAGs) in Sub-Saharan Africa present a complex phenomenon to communities, governments, development implementers, and security providers that requires a nuanced approach to understanding CBAG formation, identity, operational attributes, and relationships to local communities and formal government security architecture. CBAGs emerge across Sub-Saharan Africa with varying degrees of popular support, often in contexts where official security actors lack reach, confidence, or resources. The missions and goals of CBAGs vary, ranging from protecting or promoting an ideology or community identity, through defending territory or resources, to providing security for vulnerable populations. Their proliferation and enduring presence necessitate deeper, empirical understanding of these groups and the contexts from which they arose—especially in areas where there is a confluence of weak governance, resource competition, and (in some cases) rising violent extremism—in order to craft more effective and appropriate practice and policy toward them.