Background: After some years of relative peace and great optimism following independence from Sudan, conflict once again broke out in South Sudan in 2013. At the political level, the war sees the government’s ruling party – the SPLA – pitted against the SPLA-In Opposition, with a strong ethnic dimension of a power struggle between two rival pastoralist groups, Dinka and Nuer. The war has had devastating humanitarian consequences and led to an increase in the number and severity of local, community level conflicts over natural resources, historical grievances and power.
In Unity State, such conflicts occur between groups within Unity; between Unity and neighbouring states; and between migrating pastoralists originating from Sudan who travel south in search of pastures for their cattle. Local conflicts have a long history in Unity, and so do local means of resolving them. Local capacities to address community level conflicts continue to exist, although they are strained by the increased number and severity of local level conflicts. Following 5 years of work supporting local peacebuilding in the Sudanese province of South Kordofan, Peace Direct commissioned a mapping of local peacebuilding capacities in Unity State, across the border in South Sudan. The aim was to map local organisations and other actors, as well as the international organisations supporting local peacebuilding.
This mapping shows there are a number of local organisations and actors that engage in peacebuilding. Local peace committees, traditional and religious leaders have played, and can continue to play, a role in helping resolve inter-community, intra-community and cross-border conflicts. But funding has been largely diverted to humanitarian needs. International development actors classify peacebuilding as a ‘post-conflict’ activity only. But this mapping has 4 shown a great need for more work at the local level, even whilst the war continues