Communities in South Sudan face a range of safety and security issues, including ethnic tensions, cattle raiding, revenge killings, domestic violence, proliferation of small arms and light weapons and a lack of resources such as access to healthcare, education and water.
In 2012, Saferworld began working with civil society partners in Warrap and Western Bahr el Ghazal states to pilot community security approaches. In 2014, we expanded our community security programme and now work in 22 locations (Juba, Torit, Bor, Panyagor, Poktap, Aduel, Aluakluak, Cueibet, Rumbek, Aweil, Gokmachar, Wanyjok, Bentiu, Malakal, Gogrial, Kuajok, Tonj, Warrap, Wau, Maridi, Tambura and Yambio).
Together with our partners, we conduct research to understand security and conflict issues in the locations where we work. We then support the formation of community groups who bring together members – including women and men, ethnic and religious groups, young people, civil society organisations and authorities – to better understand security and justice needs and to come up with ways of working together to address them.
With our support, the groups identify and prioritise community security concerns by examining the underlying sources of insecurity. They then develop plans for action and implement them together with the wider community, authorities and security and other service providers. Many communities’ concerns and solutions highlight the important link between community security and underlying socio-economic and political drivers of insecurity and conflict. Through their work, the community groups have reached approximately 35,000 households – 140,000 people.
We meet regularly with police and communities to discuss safety concerns and agree jointly how to address them. We speak with ‘hard to reach’ groups, such as community defence groups including the gelweng. Based on our work with communities, we develop recommendations for the national government as well as for the international community, such as the UN and EU, to help create peace in South Sudan.
“People come to me with problems ranging from adultery, girls being taken [for marriage], money issues and loans, cattle, domestic violence and stealing. I take these problems to the community group and if there is a problem that we cannot solve, we now have the connections and we can call the police”.