Building on over 10 years of SWIFT II and III experience in Sudan and now South Sudan, AECOM provides the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) with a fast and flexible mechanism for responding to the complex and fluid political situation in South Sudan. VISTAS’ goal is to mitigate the further spread of communal violence and rising tensions in critical areas where local level conflict may have national implications. To this end, the project has four objectives: to increase space and tools to manage conflict and tensions, build cross-line interdependency to promote peaceful coexistence, promote a more informed community, and engage communities in trauma awareness to lay the foundation for healing and reconciliation.
- 1,200 youth (450 female) directly benefitted from a newly established resource center in Rumbek Town that trained youth on computer skills and served as an information hub.
- 11 women’s groups strengthened through capacity building, vocational training, leadership training, and provision of infrastructure, such as women’s centers and grinding mills.
- Supported 341 peace initiatives through dialogues and forums, benefiting 154,731 participants.
- Provided critical infrastructure and operational support to 6 radio stations (2 national and 4 local), giving the entire country improved access to timely and accurate information.
- Improved WASH conditions: 22,180 people were supplied with safe and clean drinking water; 14,935 persons gained secure access to sanitation facilities, and 4,355 people were equipped with information on proper hygiene practices.
- Aided with the purchase and installation of solar lighting in two UN Protection of Civilians camps, which benefitted 31,000 internally displaced persons.
- Engaged 6,452 community members in various types of trauma awareness sessions. This was a significant improvement (28%) from the 5,038 reached in 2017.
- Implemented 41 projects during 2018: activities included providing support for inter- and intra-tribal peace dialogues, support to civil society actors, livelihood activities for youth, small-scale infrastructure and WASH activities, and support to traditional authorities.
Project Highlight: Annual Conferences Support Peace Efforts at Sudan/South Sudan Border
Members of the Dinka Malual-Misseriya communities attending a town hall style meeting to disseminate resolutions from Pre-migration conference in 2017.
Historically, the border area between northwestern South Sudan and South Kordofan, Sudan, has endured many challenges fueled by local tensions, lack of authority and low support from government entities. In the relatively populous area around Aweil, which suffers from the same infrastructural constraints as the rest of South Sudan, these conditions have created space for conflict and instability. In this context, many deep-rooted culturally and politically charged conflicts threaten the relationship between the Dinka Malual, Rezeigat and Misseiriya—the three border communities that share this space.
Each year during the dry season, Misseiriya pastoralist families travel from Sudan, across the international border and River Kiir, and into Aweil state with thousands of cattle in search of water and pasture. This large influx of cattle can heighten tensions over shared resources and, in an effort to prevent this type of conflict, our USAID-supported Viable Support to Transition and Stability (VISTAS) project began facilitating a series of pre- and post-migration conferences. Working in close collaboration with these communities and the UN Mission in South Sudan Civil Affairs Division, these conferences bring together members of these communities and provide them with a safe space to voice their concerns. By doing so, the conferences foster productive discourse to help mitigate conflict, ease tensions, address critical issues and create resolutions necessary for improving cross-border peace through trade.
Since 2014, VISTAS has supported annual conferences before and after the spring migrations between the Dinka Malual, Rezeigat and Misseiriya. These communities agree to, and then implement, conference resolutions. As a result, they have created or strengthened shared spaces for trade and peacebuilding, such as livestock and trade complexes, a chamber of commerce, peace committees, Traditional Authority Courts and water points along migration routes. To manage these shared spaces, the participants of the annual migration conferences, with the support of VISTAS, set up a Joint Border Peace Development Committee. In addition, the VISTAS program identified various civil society organizations, non-governmental organizations, and youth and women associations and provided them with capacity training for trade interaction and service provision. Since establishing these shared spaces and increasing the capabilities of key partners, our team has seen tangible peace and collaboration efforts amongst these communities, laying the foundation for more effective conflict resolution in the future.