Understanding Youth Subcultures in South Sudan: Implications for Peace and Development

Aug 5, 2021

The youth of South Sudan cannot be defined under a single age bracket, and nor can they be defined by a single set of cultural characteristics or interests. Nevertheless, there appears to be a similar motivation emerging among South Sudan’s youth: a sense of tiredness and not having enough, as well as a desire to take matters into their own hands. This document draws on a broad base of secondary research conducted in recent years, but most importantly it surveys the voices of young people in seven states. More than 368 young people were consulted across Eastern, Central and Western Equatoria, Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal, Unity and Lakes. Its goal is to gain a better understanding of these youth subcultures and to identify their needs, motivations and means for survival, as well as entry points to actively and peacefully involve them so that they may play a major role in peace and reconciliation, peacebuilding and community cohesion interventions.

South Sudan youth comprise 74 percent of the population. The youth in South Sudan have been, for a long time, the logs that fuel the fire -positively as they drive the rural and urban informal economies, and negatively, as they are easily incentivized to violence and pervasive practices such as cattle raids. 

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) South Sudan commissioned this study to understand youth and their emerging subcultures in South Sudan. The study sought to understand what motivates the youth to join both negative and positive subcultures, what is driving the emerging youth subcultures in different states and how the positive subcultures can be reinforced for peace and development. The study also sought to understand how the youth can be disincentivized from the negative subcultures. 

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