Improving peace and security through agriculture
“The 30 tractors are for the youth agriculture project to improve peace, food security and the community security environment in the conflict-prone region of the country “stated Honourable Mayen Ngor Atem, Jonglei State Minister of Agriculture and Forestry at the handover of 30 tractors and associated equipment in May 2013. This handover marked the launch of the Jonglei Peacebuilding through Food Security Programme.
The Consultative Process
The peacebuilding and food security initiative is the result of consultations facilitated by UNDP’s Community Security and Arms Control (CSAC) project in November 2012 in the 11 counties in Jonglei state to understand the safety and security needs of individual communities. These consultations brought together traditional authorities, local government, state ministers representatives from the Jonglei Peace Commission, religious leaders as well as women and youth to develop home-grown solutions to their security issues.
The findings indicated a high correlation between food insecurity and community conflict in Jonglei state, with youth forming the majority of parties that directly engage with conflict. Input from the consultations in Greater Akobo, which includes Akobo, Nyirol and Uror counties, suggested that communities weree more vulnerable following disarmament as they were still at risk of cattle raiding, with one participant stating “They took our guns and the youth have lost their livelihood [through cattle rustling].”
Overall, the communities in Jonglei ranked food production as a main priority to reduce food insecurity and ultimately mitigate the risk of conflict over access to food. Based on these outcomes from the consultations UNDP together with UNMISS, the Peace Commission, Bureau for Community Security & Small Arms Control (CSSAC Bureau) and the state Ministries of Agriculture, Local Government, Culture, Youth and Sports, and with support from the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development developed the Jonglei Peacebuilding through Food Security Programme.
Youth Farmers Associations have been established in every one of the 55 payams across the state and will use these tractors, seeders, combines and mills to plough and prepare the land. Honourable Kuol Manyang Juuk, Governor of Jonglei stated “Thirty new tractors will add to our efforts and with them in the field we are closer to ending food insecurity”. Together with the CSSAC Bureau and Peace Commission, UNDP will also support efforts to deliver peace-building training programmes and support conflict transformation projects through these farmers groups that will challenge the mindsets and behaviours that underpin local conflict dynamics.
Building and sustaining peace goes beyond simply negotiating a ceasefire between communities in conflict. Creating an enabling environment for lasting peace and security requires input from local communities, a contextual understanding of the political economy and long-term planning. Mr. Balázs Horváth, UNDP Country Director explained “This handover is more than equipment – these are resources that will empower the community, particularly youth to generate income in a peaceful manner...Simply disarming youth to stop cattle raiding will not eliminate insecurity. It is critical that the root socioeconomic causes of violence be addressed. “
Mr. Horvath also stressed that maintenance, effective use and management of the equipment is critical to the sustainability of the project, stating “It is the collective responsibility of Government and the communities to ensure that these tractors are maintained and the operators are well trained to enable this project to benefit Jonglei in the coming years and help future generations.”