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Concept Note: Building Community-led Reconciliation in Jonglei, South Sudan

Institute for Justice and Reconciliation
Friederike Bubenzer


P: +27 (0) 21 763 7190

       This project aims to develop community-led reconciliation in Jonglei state, South Sudan, through a series of training events for local leaders which will be planned and implemented by a group of IJR staff and South Sudanese partners.

Problem Statement:

       The ongoing conflict experienced between ethnic groups in Jonglei present major challenges to local communities’ ability to capitalize on the long anticipated peace dividend brought about by the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement and independence in 2012. The conflict in the state and the resulting movement of people has major ripple effects on the state as a whole as well as on the Greater Upper Nile region (Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei) to which IDPs continue to flee in search of security. This has already resulted in a major humanitarian crisis with refugee camps in Unity state filled to the brim with fleeing refugees and IDPs from neighbouring states.

Without intervention these cycles of violent conflict will continue and the quality of life of affected communities will deteriorate and result in further erosion of the already thinning social fibre.
Analysts of the situation in Jonglei argue that rethinking conflict reduction in Jonglei requires engaging with local communities and obtaining their own analysis of the root causes of the conflict and their reasonable recommendations for how to break the cycle of violence,[1] especially given the lack of success of government-led initiatives to bring peace to date.

In order to begin restoring social harmony and build reconciliation in affected communities, community-level social cohesion and reconciliation programming implemented through inclusive democratic dialogues, urgently needs to be carried out in key areas across Jonglei state.

Project Summary:

The aim of the proposed project is to create a core group of community reconciliation trainers from across Jonglei state, which is able to import their learning into their respective communities.

Phase 1 will consist of an initial partner meeting in Juba to consult partners on a suitable approach and methodology for the training; as well as community-led reconciliation pilot training events in Akobo and Pibor (or Juba). Finally, a reconciliation training manual will be jointly produced (in English and Arabic) based on the pilot trainings and aimed at use in Phase 2.

It is anticipated that phase 1 will be implemented between June 2013 and March 2014.

Phase 2 will consist of 2 training of trainer events in Akobo and Pibor (at which the manual will be used as well as distributed to participants) as well as a monitoring and evaluation element aimed at assessing the impact of the project on participants in Jonglei.

Phase 2 will take place during 2014, further funding permitting.

Implementation Team

      IJR and South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy will be responsible for coordinating and organising all events; will develop the full programme; will conduct monitoring and evaluation, will facilitate the dialogues, and will ensure that feedback is provided to the advisory board.

Advisory Board

      This group of individuals will be consulted at the outset to assist in identifying relevant and necessary role players (participants) for the training as well as guiding the course of the training itself. The group will be instrumental in terms of ensuring that the conceptual foundation of the training is context-specific and to ensure that the project goals and objectives are met.

Implementation Team

      IJR and South Sudan Human Rights Society for Advocacy will be responsible for coordinating and organising all events; will develop the full programme; will conduct monitoring and evaluation, will facilitate the dialogues, and will ensure that feedback is provided to the advisory board.

Advisory Board

      This group of individuals will be consulted at the outset to assist in identifying relevant and necessary role players (participants) for the training as well as guiding the course of the training itself. The group will be instrumental in terms of ensuring that the conceptual foundation of the training is context-specific and to ensure that the project goals and objectives are met.

       Efforts by the government of Sudan and South Sudan as well as the international community to mitigate local level conflict have been largely unsuccessful. Apart from the government-led reconciliation process of January-May 2012; the only other known peace building work does not explicitly deal with reconciliation and how to achieve it.

The participants/beneficiaries of the training:

       The direct/primary beneficiaries of this project will include male and female community leaders from the Dinka, Murle and Nuer tribes in the towns of Akobo and Pibor respectively who play an existing leadership role in their communities, who will benefit from being trained as trainers in community-led reconciliation processes and who are likely to transfer their knowledge to their respective communities. Participants should represent a variety of local interest groups such as youth, traditional and religious leaders, and representatives of women groups, teachers and local policy makers. Given the marginalisation of women in peace building processes and the importance that their voices are heard and their experiences acknowledged, 50% of the participants will be women. In order to ensure that the proposed training does not become a factor in the respective conflicts, it is vital that the project does not favour certain communities, ethnicities and geographic areas and that existing knowledge and resources are integrated towards sustainably addressing sources of conflict. Individuals will be chosen based on their ability to meaningfully contribute to reconciliation initiatives within their own community but also at a stake-wide level, based on previous and demonstrated involvement in such processes.

       Each community-led reconciliation pilot project will host approximately 30 participants for a 4 day training period led by the project facilitation team. Once the pilots have been successfully completed and the manual has been drafted; the facilitation team will return to facilitate one training of trainers (ToT) event in Akobo and one in Pibor over 5 days each during which a further 60 participants will be trained in phase 2. It is anticipated that the majority of participants of the ToT will conduct similar training events in their own communities which will be followed-up on by the implementation team as far as logistically possible.

2 x ClR pilot trainings= 60 individuals
2 x ClR ToT trainings= 60 individuals
Advisory team=approximately 6 individuals
Implementation team= approximately 4 individuals
Locally led ToT trainings= up to 200 individuals
Total: approximately 330 individuals

       In order to ensure the sustainability of peacebuilding and reconciliation initiatives, community-level bottom-up approaches which include capacity and confidence building need to be utilised. Using IJR’s partner-driven cooperation approach, this project will be conceptualised, implemented and evaluated with the assistance of an advisory team and an implementation team

       One challenge of violent conflict, which is often overlooked, is how communities attempt to live together in its aftermath. Learning to live peacefully together after violent conflict – with former enemies and with family members and members of the wider community – is an extremely challenging task. Societies in Sudan and South Sudan have experienced decades of deep fragmentation as a result of long standing civil war. The continued spiral of violence is related to the legacies of the civil war and the failure by the government to provide security and justice in the rural areas, hence allowing lawlessness and widespread violence with impunity. Severe levels of poverty further aggravate the situation. While the development of a functioning and respected justice system across South Sudan is paramount, communities themselves must also be empowered and skilled to address conflicts locally and, more importantly, to confront their violent past and construct a new and peaceful future.

      Community healing methodologies are needed to break down stereotypes, to overcome prejudices and to build a sense of a community in order to turn diversity into a source of strength and richness rather than a source of weakness and conflict. South Sudan requires a strong and vibrant civil society to unite, to come together and to foster a renewed sense of community identity among different groups. This would greatly assist in translating the hard-won peace into a material gain for South Sudanese people.

      As part of its contribution to capacity building and skills transfer in South Sudan, IJR’s community-led reconciliation work proposes to strengthen social cohesion within and between communities and build capacity for more effective cooperation and peaceful coexistence. In order to assist communities to embrace political freedom, IJR’s community-led reconciliation framework includes a range of tools to enable communities to take charge of their social development.

      The project also includes the development of a community-led reconciliation manual to be produced under the guidance of IJR with input from all project partners and which will be distributed to those individuals trained as part of the training of trainer’s part of the project. The manual will also be translated into Arabic in order to enhance accessibility for local communities.

Collaboratively, this project will aim to:
  • Develop a locally accepted community-led reconciliation model which will be sustained and driven by a core group of trained men and women in Jonglei state.
  • Jointly create, through the ToT group, a support group where community level disputes can be understood, mediated and solved.
  • Provide, through the ToT group, a space for women and men to be supported and empowered by one another by sharing their respective stories, jointly identifying commonalities and differences and finding ways to live together
  • Strengthen social cohesion and reconciliation within and between communities and build capacity for more effective cooperation by equipping participants with the necessary dialogical skills to constructively lead community social cohesion and reconciliation initiatives to overcome sources of conflict.
  • Complement local peace building initiatives by utilising existing documents, recommendations, agreements as well as national and state-level legislation.
  • Share with the Advisory team and the Implementation team IJRs approach and experience in collaborative project planning and implementation.
The objectives of the training of trainers are as follows:
  • The course will assist participants to gain a common understanding of community-led reconciliation as a key concept and process to ensuring effective communities.
  • The course will assist participants to develop a community profile based on their knowledge of the community for community healing purposes
  • The course will assist participants to recognize and acknowledge sustained dialogue as the cornerstone to community-led reconciliation.
  • The course will assist participants with basic skills/strategies required to create a safe space to deal with diversity in communities.
  • The course will assist participants to pursue intra, inter and extra group community-led reconciliation processes within their current community work
  • The course will assist participants to understand how different enablers of reconciliation (truth, justice, reparation and healing) can be used as effective tools for reconciliation.
  • The course will provide and explore with participants a basic implementation plan to facilitate the community-led reconciliation process within their communities

Vision:Building democratic, inclusive and fair societies in Africa.

Mission Statement: Shaping national approaches to transitional justice and reconciliation in Africa by drawing on community intelligence as well as macro-trend research and comparative analysis.

      The Institute for Justice and Reconciliation was founded in the wake of South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) in 2000. Today, it is among the leading advocates for effective, responsive and participatory transitional justice and reconciliation processes in Africa. IJR’s critical institutional experience and memory has guided the development and delivery of a growing array of programmes over the past ten years. The Institute’s impact has been recognised locally and internationally during this time, and in 2008 the IJR was awarded the UNESCO International Prize for Peace Education.

      Given IJR’s experience over the last 6 years in working with divided communities to further reconciliation and healing in a number of African countries, the organisation is well placed to undertake this project. IJR also enjoys a number of long-standing as well as new relationships with local and international civil society organisations in South Sudan. IJR’s community healing programme dates back almost ten years and has been successfully implemented in multiple communities in the Western Cape (South Africa) and Zimbabwe and a similar process is successfully underway in Kenya. Pilot projects have been trialled in Ituri (DRC) and Malakal (South Sudan). As such IJR is in an advantageous position to develop, with partners in South Sudan, a community reconciliation model for local stakeholders that is based on practical experience and that is accessible (both in terms of the language, materials[2] and provision of technical support), context-specific and sustainable.

IJR’s medium term objectives (strategic objectives):

MTO1: Policy processes are influenced by research, analysis and diverse community perspectives.

MTO2: Stakeholders gain and use knowledge about justice and reconciliation.

MTO3: Platforms are created where personal and historical perspectives are acknowledged, prejudice challenged and inclusive narratives explored.

MTO4: Divided communities are engaged in dialogue to overcome sources of conflict

MTO5: Democratic, fair and inclusive practises guide the Institute’s processes, policies and operations.

Geographical scope: South Africa, The Great Lakes (Rwanda, Burundi and DRC),The Horn of Africa (South Sudan and Uganda), Zimbabwe and Kenya

a.)    Training of trainers (ToT)                                                                                                             April 2014

The two ToT courses will each target 30 suitable individuals (some of which may have stood out during the pilot phase and will be invited to participate in the second phase) to participate in an in-depth 5-day training programme.

The course will be led by the Implementation team and will focus on the modalities available for communities to initiate and facilitate community-led reconciliation (as outlined in the objectives section above). As such participants will be led through an in-depth process of how they themselves can lead their communities towards reconciliation through active citizenship and by initiating their own dialogues and workshops.

Participants will receive manuals to use in their respective communities and will be issued with participation certificates at the conclusion of the course.

b.)    Follow-up and support visits                                                                                                      September/October 2014

In order to ensure that participants of the ToT use the knowledge they gained from the trainings and to assist in and encourage the implementation of training events led by them, a follow-up visit will be conducted. These visits will serve the purpose of making clear IJRs commitment and support of local initiatives as well as to monitor impact.

c.)     Monitoring and evaluation                                                                                                         Ongoing through-out

IJR has developed a range of monitoring tools aimed at gauging the extent to which the organisation is achieving its intended outcomes. Each project at IJR feeds into one or more of the organisations’ medium term outcomes (MTOs), each of which have short term outcomes (STOs) developed specifically for activities of the IJR Justice and Reconciliation in Africa programme. These are:

MTO 2: Stakeholders gain and use knowledge about justice and reconciliation

STO 2.7 Partners, policy makers and other stakeholders in target countries and international organisations acquire and enhance knowledge on justice and reconciliation.

STO 2.10 Participants of JRA dialogues and interventions in target countries are equipped with and apply skills to develop and implement follow-up activities.


MTO 4: communities are engaged in dialogue to overcome sources of conflict

STO 4.5 Communities are equipped with knowledge and skills to engage in sustained dialogues on justice and reconciliation issues.

STO 4.6 Partners and participants of IJR-led community dialogue processes in target countries constructively engage in initiatives to jointly identify sustainable solutions to community-level conflict.

STO 4.7 A core group of trainers is created through community healing processes and is empowered to develop and implement follow up activities.

All MTOs feed into IJR’s core objective which is the building of fair, democratic and inclusive societies in Africa.

To concretely measure the extent to which we are achieving our STOs, IJR utilises concrete mechanisms such as pre-and post test questionnaires, evaluation forms and follow-up interviews with a select group of participants.

Rethinking Jonglei. 2012. Pact Sudan briefing paper. Supplied to IJR directly. Available on request.

IJR has produced two relevant publications 1.) Community Healing: A Resource Guide. 2006. Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, South Africa. 2.) Community Healing: Participant’s Training Manual. 2008. Institute for Justice and Reconciliation, South Africa. A further manual is planned for Kenya in 2013.Publications

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