In today’s era of increasing technological connectivity, unimpeded access to the free flow of information is more crucial than ever. IEP Peace Ambassador and Rotary Club Member, Melrose Lunn, has dedicated herself to addressing these inequalities using the practical tools developed over the course of our Program.
As part of the Ambassador Program, participants are introduced to the Positive Peace Framework. This way of thinking emphasizes the ‘attitudes, structures and institutions’ of a society as being the key to creating long lasting, authentic peace. IEP has identified eight pillars that make up this approach, all of which are connected and interdependent upon one another.
In order to strengthen peace within a community, IEP’s empirically backed research has found that it is best for changemakers to either address all of the pillars at once, or to target the weakest one. As an IEP Peace Ambassador tasked with designing and implementing a peace project, Melrose decided to focus her project on improving the free flow of information in her local area.
In remote regions of Aklan Province, Philippines, internet access can be a challenge. Connectivity issues have even plagued elections in the area, particularly in the town of Libacao, which sits on a mountain range, where at least four barangays are barely accessible. More recently, Typhoon Odette has caused sweeping network service outages in Bohol, underlining the fragility of the current internet infrastructure.
The impact of this instability is pronounced. Without a quick and reliable connection to accurate information, citizens are disadvantaged in times of crisis and disaster. They are also cut off from flows of knowledge and education, which would otherwise contribute to the growth of skilled human capital in the region. Each of these factors undermines the potential development and maintenance of peace in the Province.
To address the problems raised by fragile internet connectivity, Melrose set about designing a project to deliver and install internet boosters in remote communities.
Working with the Rotaray Club of Metro Kalibo, and in partnership with the Rotary Clubs of Pasay Southeast and Forbes Park, Melrose was able to secure funding for the first phase of her project in December, 2021. Units were bought, and handed over to another community partner, the 2nd Aklan Provincial Mobile Force Company, for installation on January 5, 2022.
So far, the project has successfully fitted Skywave 4G Internet Boosters to 25 remote areas situated in the local government units of Buruanga, Malay, Nabas, and Ibajay.
Alongside this first phase of the project, Melrose organised an event to inform local community leaders about IEP’s Positive Peace Framework. She introduced audience members to IEP’s empirical research, and then to the eight pillars of Positive Peace. This was followed with an explanation of her project installing 4G Internet boosters in the region.
Through this, Melrose provided the audience with a relevant, practical example of how to build positive peace in the region. All it takes is the development of targeted, community-led projects that will strengthen the eight Positive Peace pillars.
Melrose’s presentation was attended by the Chief of Police in each municipality, Rotarians, and other guests. Speeches were also delivered by representatives from the Aklan Police Provincial Office, who presented an update on the Drug Clearing Operation and the National Task Force accomplishments relating to surrendered illegal fire arms.
She received feedback asking for the project to be emulated on the other side of the Province, and was invited to speak about her project at another forum later this year.
If you are inspired by this story about one of our incredible IEP Peace Ambassadors, expressions of interest for our upcoming April 2022 Peace Ambassador cohort are open now.
Since 2017, Rotary and the Institute for Economics & Peace have worked together under a strategic partnership that spreads Positive Peace around the world. This collaboration builds on IEP’s empirical research into Positive Peace, as well as Rotary’s grassroots work in communities around the globe. For more information on the different ways Rotary and IEP partner together, visit the Rotary International website.