Generating Sustainable Livelihoods and Leadership for Peace in South Sudan: Lessons from the Ground

Following two long civil wars between 1956 and 2005, South Sudan, with a population of about 13 million, became an independent state on 9 July 2011. After independence, the country’s socio-economic challenges were enormous, and unresolved political tensions plunged the country into civil conflict in December 2013, in which an estimated 50,000 civilians have lost their lives, and about 2.3 million people have been internally displaced. Despite a peace agreement, mediated by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and signed by the warring parties in August 2015, prospects for peace faded, with fighting erupting in Juba between government and opposition forces in July 2016. Although a ceasefire is in place, tensions have continued, and the renewed conflict in 2013 and 2016 has exacerbated the socio-economic and political challenges that face South Sudan. The country remains the fastest-growing and largest refugee situation in Africa, with an estimated 3.1 million South Sudanese refugees projected to be hosted by six neighbouring countries by the end of 2018. Within South Sudan, more than half the population (7.6 million people) are in need of humanitarian assistance as a result of the continuing civil war. Four major inter-related causes of conflict and instability have been identified by the consortium, which are being addressed through the ARC project: food insecurity, youth disengagement, tensions and mistrust, and lack of effective conflict resolution mechanisms. This is the first in a series of five policy briefs that seek to promote wider and better understanding of the challenges faced by local communities in the project target locations, and to disseminate the lessons learned, while encouraging bench-marking of best practices.