National Small Arms Assessment in South Sudan

01 Aug 2017
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National Small Arms Assessment in South Sudan

Small arms proliferation among civilians in South Sudan has long been thought widespread but there have been no reliable estimates of civilian weapon stocks to date. The deliberate arming of Southern communities during the first and second civil wars and the continuation of both authorized and covert conventional weapons transfers to Juba; illicit cross-border trafficking; and proxy arming of rebel groups by external actors has been extensively documented but not illuminated the scale of civilian stockpile.

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Sudan has supported the Bureau for Community Security and Small Arms Control (BCSSAC) to develop projects and programmes to assess and address community security in South Sudan, including related to the role of small arms and light weapons. As part of this support, the Small Arms Survey undertook a National Small Arms Assessment in South Sudan (NSAASS) to estimate the scale of arms in civilian hands across the country, self-reported motivations for arming, and recent experiences of violence victimisation.

The assessment had both quantitative and qualitative components, including a household survey targeting a nationally representative sample of households across government-held areas in all ten (former) states. This component, which was begun in May 2016, had surveyed three-quarters of the target sample in six states (Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Western Barh el Ghazal, Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Jonglei) when the July 2016 conflict erupted in Juba. Although security concerns required the closure of the quantitative component at that time, data collected from 1,746 household provide a large enough basis for establishing estimates. The completed qualitative component consisted of 211 completed semi-structured interviews among community leaders and security providers in surveyed areas; 21 key informant interviews; and 4 focus group discussions, conducted before and after the July conflict and the collapse of the first transitional government. The assessment was completed and validated by government, security, NGO, and UN stakeholders at a workshop on 30 November 2016.