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Generating Sustainable Livelihoods and Leadership for Peace in South Sudan: Lessons from the Ground

South Sudan
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The Centre for Conflict Resolution (CCR), Cape Town, South Africa, is implementing a five-year project (September 2016–August 2021) on “Generating Sustainable Livelihoods and Leadership for Peace in South Sudan” as part of a consortium of three organisations, also including the Agency for Cooperation and Research in Development (ACORD) and DanChurchAid (DCA). Th e long-term goal of the project is to address the political and socio-economic root causes of armed confl ict and instability in South Sudan. The project is funded by the Addressing Root Causes (ARC) Fund of the government of the Netherlands.

Following two long civil wars between 1956 and 2005, South Sudan, with a population of about 13 million, became an independent state on 9 July 2011. After independence, the country’s socio-economic challenges were enormous, and unresolved political tensions plunged the country into civil conflict in December 2013, in which an estimated 50,000 civilians have lost their lives, and about 2.3 million people have been internally displaced. 1 Despite a peace agreement, mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and signed by the warring parties in August 2015, prospects for peace faded, with fighting erupting in Juba between government and opposition forces in July 2016. Although a ceasefire is in place, tensions have continued, and the renewed conflict in 2013 and 2016 has exacerbated the socio-economic and political challenges that face South Sudan. The country remains the fastest-growing and largest refugee situation in Africa, with an estimated 3.1 million South Sudanese refugees projected to be hosted by six neighbouring countries by the end of 2018. 2 Within South Sudan, more than half the population (7.6 million people) are in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the continuing civil war.

Four major inter-related causes of conflict and instability have been identified by the consortium, which are being addressed through the ARC project: food insecurity, youth disengagement, tensions and mistrust, and lack of effective conflict resolution mechanisms. The project seeks to empower local community leaders, civil society, and peacebuilding actors to contribute directly and sustainably to a culture of peace and respect for human rights in five states in South Sudan: Imatong, Jonglei, Jubek, Kapoeta, and Terekeka. A key underlying premise of the project is that local communities in South Sudan will be better equipped to prevent and manage the consequences of conflicts and economic shocks if interventions address both humanitarian and development issues.

This is the first in a series of five policy briefs that seek to promote wider and better understanding of the challenges faced by local communities in the project target locations, and to disseminate the lessons learned, while encouraging bench-marking of best practices. It is based on consultations with beneficiaries as well as the experiences of, and lessons learned from, three CCR capacity-building training workshops, as well as activities undertaken by ACORD and DCA, in project locations between September 2016 and March 2018. Bringing together community leaders representing traditional and religious institutions, women and youth structures, local government authorities, as well as civil society actors, the Centre’s three workshops were conducted – in collaboration with its local implementation partner, Manna Development Agency (MADA) – in Kapoeta South (Kapoeta state) on 18–21 July 2017; Terekeka (Terekeka state) on 24–29 July 2017; and Ikotos (Imatong state) on 15–19 January 2018. Project implementation includes a robust learning agenda, with a view to sharing valuable lessons from the ground, not only with the consortium’s development partners in South Sudan, but also with those working in other fragile contexts and with key relevant decision-makers in the Netherlands and elsewhere.