The Republic of South Sudan is the world’s newest nation after decades of civil war. Two and half years into independence, the country returned to large scale civil war with the ongoing fighting displacing more than two million citizens and resulting in the deaths of tens of thousands.
AECOM is responding to these challenges through its U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) program, Viable Support to Transition and Stability (VISTAS). This program seeks to prevent the spread of communal violence and calm tensions in critical areas where conflict may have national implications. The program works in frontline communities on four main areas:
- Creating opportunities for peaceful dialogue;
- Building inter-dependency between groups and communities and across the Sudan-South Sudan border to promote peaceful coexistence;
- Establishing a constituency for peace; and
- Countering a narrative that supports conflict.
Trade, for example, has a long history of connecting communities in South Sudan and facilitates relationships across conflict lines. Many communities on the frontline have resisted joining the political conflict because of their dependency on trade. These relationships often preserve a connection between communities that would not exist otherwise. Areas where trade lines are established but fragile offer an opportunity for VISTAS to support trade and promote engagement between communities.