“People have realized that violence has really created some hatred among themselves, and people are now very poor,” says Dut Makwouch, 35, secretary of the peace committee in Matangai, part of Rumbek town in Lakes State. “Now we are raising awareness with people to make sure they know the violence that they [perpetuate] is not good and not helpful to them.”
Established by UNDP South Sudan’s Peace and Community Cohesion (PaCC) project, with support from the Government of Sweden, peace committees act as arbiters and mediators of community level conflicts and disputes. Each peace committee member is trained on conflict mediation, transformational leadership, and response to gender-based violence (GBV), taught by trainers from the woman-led National Transformational Leadership Institute (NTLI) of the University of Juba.
“The peace committee structure recognizes to be successful, local negotiation and mediation efforts must be led by local actors, not external players. Identifying, recruiting, and training appropriate people, especially women and youth, who represent a broad spectrum in local communities is essential,” says Judy Wakahiu, UNDP Programme Advisor and Project Manager of PaCC.