Empowering Communities, Building Resilience

02 Apr 2013

Building and sustaining peace goes beyond simply negotiating a ceasefire between communities in conflict.  Creating an enabling environment for lasting peace and security requires input from local communities, a contextual understanding of the political economy and long-term planning.

UNDP has worked alongside the Government in expanding the rule of law, strengthening policies on small arms control and extending Government services and authority to insecure communities to foster peaceful co-existence.  In November and December 2012, UNDP’s Community Security and Arms Control (CSAC) project began consultations in every one of the 11 counties in Jonglei State to understand the personal safety and security needs of individual communities. 

These consultations brought together village elders, local government, state ministers representatives from the Jonglei Peace Commission, religious leaders as well as women and youth to discuss and propose home-grown solutions to their security issues. 

Findings from the 11 counties as well as a number of boma and sub-county consultations have indicated that there is a high correlation between food insecurity and community conflict in Jonglei state. Input from the consultations in Greater Akobo, which included Akobo, Nyirol and Uror counties, suggested that communities were more vulnerable following disarmament while still being at risk of cattle raiding, with one participant stating “They took our guns and the youth have lost their livelihood [through cattle rustling].”

Overall, the communities in Jonglei ranked food security as a main priority, versus other states which have ranked access to water, presence of the rule of law, or mitigation of cattle raiding as a top priority to mitigate conflict.  Input from people living in these bomas and payams suggested mechanized farming projects as well as livestock and fishery programmes as a way to increase food production and thereby reduce inter-communal conflict.  Based on the outcomes of these consultations, UNDP’s CSAC project together with Government counterparts and development partners, including the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development are now planning support for food security initiatives in these communities that will reduce conflict.

In addition to these consultations providing viable information for development actors and Government, these participatory processes help empower people to give local government feedback and an opportunity to deliver improved services.   Women in Greater Akobo, Jonglei expressed appreciation with being consulted by a team led by the Chair of Jonglei Peace Commission.  One female participant stated “We are hopeful that things will change now that you have come to talk with us.” 

CSAC has applied this innovative, consultative approach in 44 other counties that has enabled the formation of local groups which provide a platform for longer-term impact through dialogue on broader community security issues.  This continuous dialogue has served to strengthen the social contract, provide a space for people to make their voices heard, support the extension of the state’s authority, improve accountability and fosters trust between the people and the Government.