Sudan: The Collaborative in South Kordofan

Sudan has been in civil war since 1955, with the exception of the period between 1972 and 1983. In 2005, a fragile Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed. In July 2011, Sudan split and the Republic of South Sudan became independent. Some 2 million people were killed during the civil wars; 4 million people fled the violence.

The Collaborative is a network of local peace activists from Sudan and South Sudan, which has continued to coordinate efforts across the new border. Formed in 2006, as a result of a meeting facilitated by Peace Direct and PACT, the Collaborative has built up twelve peace committees in South Kordofan (Sudan) and Unity State (South Sudan). The Peace Committees are trained to analyze conflict and find local solutions, supported by a Rapid Response Fund (RRF) controlled by the Collaborative where necessary. In most cases the RRF is not needed and costs are covered by community contributions. The Collaborative is partner of the UK-based NGO Peace Direct.

For three years, the Collaborative has been working with communities to identify and train local peace activities and coordinate them into a more effective network. As the Peace Committees are entirely voluntary, there is a self-selection process that identifies those people most committed to peacebuilding. The combination of traditional administration members and the young educated generation has made some Peace Committees highly successful. Most Peace Committees are inclusive and are keen to have each tribe or ethnic group represented, providing a collective and balanced decision-making process.

The Peace Committees aim to respond quickly to conflicts, prevent smaller conflicts from escalating and to help communities resist any pressure to become involved in a conflict. In most cases the Peace Committees – with over 70 members – have been supported by the local administration, traditional leaders and even the security forces.

According to a recent evaluation [I]:

  • in 57 per cent of Peace Committees interventions, communities that previously fought alongside one of the parties, now have chosen not to;

  • in 80 per cent of interventions where violence had occurred, no repeated violence has been reported;

  • in 94 per cent of interventions, the conflict appears to have been resolved or partially resolved; in 6 per cent of cases the interventions appear to have failed.

One example: the evaluator cites a case where the stabbing of an Arab man by a Nuba man could have led to inter-tribal conflict. However, the community contacted the Peace Committees, monetary compensation was agreed, mediation between both parties ensued and the problem was settled.

Each of the Peace Committees cost US$ 5,000 to create and $ 1.500 per year to maintain. In more than 50 per cent of cases, the Peace Committees have intervened in conflicts without any outside funding. The Peace Committees have intervened in over 65 conflicts in three years. Annual cost of running the project is $170,000. Clearly, the benefits outweigh the costs.

Note

[I] Conflict Prevention in South Kordofan - An Impact Assessment of the Collaborative's Model (2012); Peace Direct and Final Report: Evaluation of the CFPS Rapid Response Fund and Peace Committee Model in Sudan (2012); Integrity.