The Nile Project: making music for peace in the Nile Basin region


  • Kelly Mancini Becker University of Vermont


The use of music in peacebuilding is a new and emerging field. Yet there is sparse empirical evidence on its outcomes. The Nile Project is a musical collaborative from East Africa that brings together musicians from all of the countries that border the Nile River and is aimed at finding a solution to the dire water crisis in the region. This study explored how musicians from The Nile Project, despite their linguistic, cultural, musical, and political differences collaborated to create a unified sound. Using a combination of qualitative and arts-informed research methodologies, original members of the collective, as well as the co-founder, were interviewed. Observations were also done of the musicians’ rehearsals, performances, and classroom visits at two New England Universities and at their “gathering” in Aswan, Egypt. Findings suggest that an outcome of The Nile Project’s work is that the process of making music with those from diverse musical traditions can act as a way to practice peacebuilding skills. The act of music making encouraged musicians to “bend” in effort to play together often altering or adapting their musical scales. This may have been a chance for musicians to embody “unity in diversity.” This study seeks to add to the limited research on the use of music for peacebuilding
offering the musicians’ perspective, which has been identified as a need.


Music; peacebuilding; water conflict; Africa; arts-informed research; Nile River

Author Biography

Kelly Mancini Becker, University of Vermont

Kelly Mancini Becker has worked for two decades in the field of arts in education. She has been a teaching artist, an arts administrator, and working artist with such organizations as The Folger Shakespeare Library and The Shakespeare Theater in Washington, DC. She was a founding educator and Arts Coordinator for Two Rivers Public School in DC. Her specialty is the performing arts: drama, music, and dance with a focus on arts integration (or the use of the arts as a vehicle for learning). Kelly is currently a Lecturer in the Elementary Education Department at The University of Vermont. Her research interests include: moving to learn, arts integration, arts-based research, and arts in peacebuilding.