Preventing Cattle Raiding Violence in South Sudan: Local level peace building focusing on young people

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Within and Without the State (WWS), a programme funded by the UK Department for International Development, has been working in South Sudan since 2012 to improve the relationship between citizen and state. This case study describes the efforts of Community Empowerment and Progress Organization, a WWS partner, to work with young people in cattle raiding camps and support local communities to find their own solutions for peace. In the midst of a renewed outbreak of violence just two days before the country’s fifth anniversary, supporting local level peace initiatives remains as vital as ever.
  OXFAM CASE STUDY AUGUST 2016 Cattle in Melut, South Sudan. Photo credit: Kieran Doherty/ Oxfam PREVENTING CATTLE RAIDING VIOLENCE IN SOUTH SUDAN Local level peace building focusing on young people The Community Empowerment and Progress Organization, a partner of the Within and Without the State initiative, has been working with young people in cattle raiding camps and supporting local communities to find their own solutions for peace. In the midst of a renewed outbreak of violence just two days before the country’s fifth anniversary, supporting local level peace initiatives remains as vital as ever.   CONTEXT Decades of violent conflict in Sudan formally ended with the Comprehensive Peace Agreement signed in 2005, which in 2011 gave birth to South Sudan, the world’s newest country. However, conflict broke out again in December 2013 and more than 50,000 people have lost their lives. 2.3 million people have been forced from their homes and are seeking safety in South Sudan, while the number of South Sudanese refugees in neighbouring countries has risen to over 715,000. In total, 6.1 million people need urgent humanitarian support now – including 200,000 children suffering severe acute malnutrition – and more than 5.3 million risk not having enough to eat in the months ahead unless international aid is dramatically and urgently increased. In July 2016, fighting broke out again in the capital Juba two days before the fifth Independence Day, killing at least 300 people and displacing thousands. While a ceasefire has been signed, the situation remains volatile. WITHIN AND WITHOUT THE STATE IN SOUTH SUDAN Within and Without the State (WWS) is a five-year global initiative (2011–2016) funded by the UK Department for International Development’s (DFID) Conflict, Humanitarian and Security programme. It has enabled Oxfam to pilot a variety of approaches to working with civil society to promote more accountable governance in conflict-affected and fragile contexts. PHASE I In Phase I, WWS deliberately took time to select partners who were appropriate for the programme, while ensuring others not selected were fully informed as to why they were not chosen – the aim being to enable civil society organizations (CSOs) to cooperate on other issues better in the future. This was also in the context of a country where there is relatively little experience of governance and a lack of effective CSOs. WWS deliberately strengthened the five partners chosen who were working on a range of issues, from media to election monitoring to rehabilitation of disabled people. WWS also ran MP/public dialogues and public accountability meetings, enabling people to question their MPs and try to hold them to account for service delivery. WWS in Phase I also sought to engage with the African Union on civil society space and influence legislation which threatened the ability of NGOs to operate. 2  PHASE II In Phase I, WWS was very much grounded in the exciting context of a new state. The key themes were transparency and accountability, demonstrated in the slow but thorough selection of partners. This led to identifying space in civil society to engage with the new government structures through direct interactions such as MP dialogues. For Phase II, the whole context changed following the split in the government and the fighting which began in December 2013. While WWS still focused on transparency and accountability, direct interaction with MPs and the government became more challenging. As a result, WWS tried new and creative approaches such as screening community mobilization films, which allow communities to have a space to voice their issues in a non-confrontational way. The programme currently works with three national NGOs which focus on giving support to local governance and community structures. They raise community awareness through theatre and radio, and work on women's empowerment with small scale cooperatives and support women to raise their voices. WWS has also worked on local level peace mediation, developing an early warning system for cattle raiding. WWS works in Lakes State and Central Equatoria State, South Sudan (areas highlighted in orange). Source: Oxfam. 3  CATTLE RAIDING It is not possible to overstate the importance of cattle in South Sudanese culture. They are seen as the key indicator of a person’s wealth and status and are usually given as a bride price to a woman’s family in gifts ranging from fewer than ten to several hundred. They are used as the family bank account, particularly relevant now when the South Sudanese pound is devaluing so rapidly. They are also paid out as compensation to settle various community disputes. After years of conflict, small arms are widespread and this has led to many using guns in traditional disputes over cattle. THE WORK OF CEPO One of WWS’ long-standing partners is the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization (CEPO). CEPO works across South Sudan in a range of initiatives focused around peace and conflict mitigation, human rights, the rule of law, livelihoods, governance and democratic transformation. In Western Lakes State (now one of three areas formerly known as Lakes State), CEPO has been active in bringing peace in Rumbek, the biggest town in the region, and surrounding areas. Peace and stability dialogues In 2014, CEPO ran two peace and stability dialogues in Lakes state. This brought around 90 participants drawn from different communities’ cattle camps to Rumbek town for face-to-face dialogue. The two sides had not met together for talks for some five years until the CEPO initiative. There was a lot of community consultation before the opposing sides met. CEPO carried out a baseline workshop with participants from all five  payams  (local territorial grouping) of Rumbek county. This involved  payam  administrators, young people and women’s leaders so they heard what the community wanted. The participants came up with solutions and focused on the youth from the cattle camps, including implementing an early warning system to alert the authorities. CEPO chose not to involve senior politicians as they felt they could have tried to make political capital out of the process, but only those directly involved. They also brought in the UN Mission to South Sudan who contributed t-shirts, helped with transport and gave a small grant to each  payam  involved. They also did a mapping of key elders and administrators who would actually contribute to their aims. They took the risk of involving all those involved in actual violence despite the fear that violence could even break out at the meeting. The key was to focus on the negative impacts of violence, so that people’s negative attitudes, practices, perceptions and beliefs began to change before they actually got down to dialogue. Another outcome was that after the process the community no longer protected those accused of violence. Once that happened, people even gave themselves up to the police because they knew that without their community’s protection they would be in more 4
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