Intercommunal violence, often related to cattle and involving youth, has been common in Lakes State. In a bid to prevent such frequently deadly incidents, the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) in cooperation with local authorities have established Youth, Peace and Security Committees in particularly conflict-prone areas.
As part of a Community Violence Reduction project and to make the work of the committees more effective, members of these local peacekeeping entities recently received additional assets: solar panels, motorbikes and ploughs to be drawn by oxen.
According to Abendnego Malou Mabil, Chairperson of the Malek Mayom Peace Committee, they have all turned out to be essential equipment.
“We use the solar panels for others to charge their mobile phones for a small fee, and the money we earn we use to buy fuel for the motorbikes, which in turn make it possible for us to respond quickly to early warnings about conflicts,” he said, adding that the ploughs are also set to be used soon.
“Once we can harvest what we are cultivating, we’ll sell the produce and buy tents to use for our work. Sometimes, we need to spend some time at a cattle camp to reduce tensions, and then having tents will be precious.”
The new equipment is being used in a similar fashion by the Peace Committee set up in Abiriu Payam (administrative division).
“In fact, we will invest in buying more chargers so we can expand our work and buy more assets to become even better at maintaining peace in our area,” said Priskila Anath, its Deputy Chairperson, noting that 30 per cent female representation on the committees has been made a requirement for the entities to be set up and funded.
With the solar panels proven to be key components of the Community Violence Reduction project, committee members have been trained on how to maintain and keep them in good shape for the long haul.
Enhancing their peacebuilding capacity in other ways is equally important, which is why committees have also participated in workshops on organizational and leadership skills, as well as conflict management techniques.
‘’Supported youth are now actively engaged in promoting peace in their communities and are part of an early warning and response mechanism at the local level. They have also started networking among themselves to exchange ideas and to nurture peace across communal borders. That, I think, is the project’s biggest achievement to date,’’ said Khalif Farah, a Civil Affairs Officer serving with the peacekeeping mission.
Building on the success of the initiative, two additional Community Violence Reduction projects are set to be implemented. One, to be made up of 60 youths trained on animal health, will be dealing with cross-border, cattle-related conflicts between the neighbouring states of Warrap, Lakes and Unity. The objective of the second project will be to strengthen and improve the relationships between communities in Lakes and Unity by establishing a joint auction market and a police post in Kareer in Yirol East County.
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).