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Engaging with Religious Leaders and Faith Communities - a toolkit

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ACT Alliance
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Toolkit summary

This toolkit is published by ACT Alliance EU > , Caritas Europa > , EU-CORD > and Islamic Relief Worldwide > to give EU decision-makers a concise practical tool to encourage engagement of local religious leaders and faith communities in pandemic response and the post-recovery phase.

A large proportion of EU development and humanitarian assistance and peacebuilding action is operational in countries and regions where faith and belief play a large part in shaping customs, practices and frameworks of wellbeing. Understanding religious dynamics in these contexts is essential for identifying drivers of social cohesion, or conversely of inequalities and divisions.

The dynamics shape the appropriate intervention and support.

Religious actors in times of pandemic: an indispensable contribution In many contexts, faith communities are first-line responders and on site before, during and after the time of an emergency.

Religious leaders are in direct contact with wider international networks and with the local administration. The deep embeddedness of faith communities and networks builds a relationship based on mutual trust and fosters the leverage of multi-dimensional interventions. Religious leaders — including women and youth leaders — have a meaningful role in building resilience and sharing effective communication, providing psychosocial and spiritual support, promoting inclusion and countering stigma and they enable the adaptation of traditional practices in case this is needed to avert risks.

In the area of inclusion and protection, religious leaders and faith communities are essential actors with strong influence for positive or negative outcomes.

Whether drivers of inclusion or exclusion, ensuring support, dialogue and training for these stakeholders is crucial to enhance the protection of vulnerable individuals and counter domestic and gender-based violence.