Rebuilding Reconciliation and Social Cohesion in South Sudan
Integration of Trauma Awareness and Psychosocial Support
November 20, 2023
South Sudanese have experienced various forms of trauma because of the different stressful circumstances that they have been exposed to such as armed conflicts, competition over natural resources, inter-communal conflicts over farmland and cattle, resulting in the destructions of properties, child abuse, sexual and gender-based violence and the displacement of millions both internally and others living as refugees in neighboring countries. The effects of these situations are a source of increasing levels of stress and trauma on individuals, families, and communities, and without confronting these issues, the peace the people are yearning for will be difficult to achieve and continues to drift away.
Community Training Manual on Trauma Awareness and Psychosocial Support
As part of the peace-building process, UNDP is committed to address the impact of trauma to facilitate healing and reconciliation at national and community levels, in South Sudan. On 28th September 2022 , UNDP launched the Community Training Manual on Trauma Awareness and Psychosocial Support as a guide for Psychosocial Facilitators to conduct a ﬁve-day training for Community Volunteers. The emphasis is on psychosocial support, not clinical healing, targeting trauma affected communities in South Sudan. Prior to this, UNDP had been engaged in conducting training for members of parliament, chiefs, and training of trainers. This training manual is a culmination of experiences and best practices based on UNDP’s work on the ground with trainers and fellow community members therefore is relevant and will be able to support facilitators in understanding trauma.
Trauma Awareness and Psychosocial Support Practices
During the training sessions, participants reflect on traumas they may have experienced through exercise that allow them to express themselves in a confidential environment resulting in life changing experiences. Victoria Amal Ismail, chairperson of a women group who attended the training in Mvolo county said that they are excited to talk about lessons learnt from the training to community members and will be moving from house to house to help resolve some of the issues that have caused violence in the past because of trauma and welcomed such trainings in the future.
In this season, UNDP’s work on trauma healing and psychosocial support has been conducted in Yirol, Leer, Aweil, Jur River and Ikwotos. A total of 150 new community volunteers have been a part of the training and 120 state leaders have participated on a trauma awareness workshop in Pariang, Tonj East, Mvolo and Ikwotos, allowing them to recognize the importance of their role incorporating psychosocial support within their communities. We hope to reach Boma, Aweil Center, Malakal, Wau and Tambura as well.
‘’Investing in mental health and psychosocial support will facilitate healing and reconciliation and reduce chances of communities engaging in violence, contributing to a sustainable peace.’’ Angela Trovar, Psychosocial Support Specialist, UNDP