Progress in Yambio, Gbudue State, in building communities of peace, and supporting women and youth towards recovery and resilience, was observed by a joint-delegation of representatives from the Embassy of Sweden in South Sudan, SIDA, UN Women and UNDP last week.
During the three-day visit, the joint SIDA, UNDP, UN Women team met peace committees from Yambio and Nzara representing their communities through inclusivity and pro-active dialogue. Members of the peace committees highlighted their success in supporting their communities to resolve disagreement peacefully. Among the cases the volunteer committees have handled were those related to land issues, differences between farmers and cattle keepers, as well as issues of domestic violence. Local chiefs, as, expressed appreciation of the presence of members of peace committees as their work as community leaders has improved, since they have more people in the community to assist.
The Swedish delegation, consisting of Nina Genneby, Human Security Advisor; Veronica Perzanowska, Senior Gender Advisor; Hanna Carlsson, First Secretary; and Foda Michael, National Officer were received by the Deputy Governor Madam Hon. Grace Datiro, who briefed them on the current security and development situation in Yambio.
The joint team visited women economic empowerment groups in Ngagura Payam of Yambio, as well as met youth (men and women), who were formerly part of the “Arrow Boys” but have now been reintegrated into the communities and are peacefully using skills like carpentry and tailoring to earn a living. This partnership between UNDP and Rural Development Action Aid (RDAA), a community-based organisation based in Yambio, has supported a total of 300 vulnerable youth and women.
One ex-combatant, Samuel* shared his story: “I was part of the carpentry training and have learned so much. Now, in my home town, thanks to the skills acquired, I am now teaching 20 youth in carpentry in my little shop.”
Asked how the skills received are contributing to peace, Moses* said:
“We fight for incomes, for livelihoods. Now that we have this [alternative], there is no more motivation to fight.”
Asked if they could consider going back to the bush to fight, James* said:
“No. We experienced a lot of bad things, we lost our dear ones, property…so we are not willing to go back again. We plan to sustain what we have. Even if those people [in the bush] have money, it’s acquired forcefully. Best thing is to work and to eat of your sweat,” James concluded.
The joint team also visited the Child Transit Centre which is hosting women and girls’ survivors of gender-based violence, courtesy of UN Women’s partnership with Change Agent, a local NGO. The joint team were warmly received by the Gbudue State Minister of Education and Gender, who explained in depth the importance of the transit centre.
*Names in this story have been changed to protect privacy.