Soaring together to lead stabilization – A glimpse from Abu Kershola, South Kordofan

Dec 24, 2017

UNDP_SDN_01An integrated farm in Abu Kershola, South Kordofan, installed with water yard and pipelines for irrigation to support small scale farmers who are members of Community Management Committees, established and supported by UNDP Community Security and Stabilization Programme (C2SP). Placing vulnerable communities at the core who are likely to be drawn into larger conflict in the southern states of Sudan, C2SP supports the creation of alternative livelihoods opportunities; provision of socioeconomic infrastructure; capacitates communities on peacebuilding; and opportunities of reconciliation and social cohesion.

“We had no communication and interaction with the locals. We did not have friends and could not trust each other” says Yagoub Ali, an IDP (Internally Displaced Persons) member in Abu Kershola. In a similar tone, El Nour Ahmed, a farmer in Abu Kershola, expresses “As a farmer, I faced frequent clashes with nomads whose cattle come to my farm grazing and destroy my crops regularly. I resorted to violence to show my power to the nomads and to convince them that I am able to protect my farm.  I was so angry that even when I was called several times by a committee of mediators to sit and negotiate to resolve this dispute, I refused.”

But things are changing for better in Abu Kershola, following a series of training on peacebuilding and conflict management, organization of peace forums & community dialogues, productivity in integrated farms, which are ran by the local Community Management Committees (CMCs) as well as the availability of water for drinking and irrigation from water yards. UNDP’s Community Security and Stabilization Programme (C2SP) brought this change, by establishing and training the CMCs, which also managed the water yards, among others.

Sharing his experience of working with CMCs, Yagoub Ali says “The CMCs facilitated interactions between us and people of Abu Kershola, they created work for us in the integrated farms; that helped us build bridge of trust with them. We now have a source of income as well as trustful relationship with brothers and sisters of Abu Kershola.” Farmer El Nour says “After I received training through the peacebuilding workshops and engaged in community dialogues organized by the CMC, I opted for peaceful negotiation with nomads because I realized that this cycle of violence is endless and there is nothing more important than to live our lives in peace.”

Abu Kershola locality, South Kordofan has suffered years of protracted conflict. Due to its proximity to Nuba mountains, the locality has witnessed regular attacks and intensive confrontations between warring parties’ troops resulting in large scale displacement of its Nuba population from Tagali group alongside groups of Arab and Fellata origin. As a direct consequence of the continued violence, traditional reconciliatory mechanisms were no longer working properly. In addition, mounting effects of climate change in the region had exacerbated the situation leading to deeper tensions between tribes in the locality.

SK_A4_WebMap_24Dec2017_500Map: Targeted communities by C2SP in South Kordofan State, Sudan
UNDP_SDN_020CMC members (men, women and youth) attend the meeting with C2SP and DFID, Nov 2017

UNDP’s innovative response to this crisis through the C2SP project was to establish CMCs comprising representatives of different ethnic groups, occupations and age groups and build its capacity in multiple sectors to address and prevent the impact of conflict. The handing over of power to people from various tribes living in the community while establishing ownership of the process and roles were crucial to lessen tensions over scarce land and water resources amongst existing communities as well as to alleviate pressure with arrival of new inhabitants.

This CMC model approach in the C2SP project, marks UNDP’s firm commitment towards stability, conflict prevention, and peace-building in the region.  UNDP works towards increasing the resilience of communities that are affected by conflict or are at higher risk of being drawn into conflict.  Placing vulnerable communities at the core who are likely to be drawn into larger conflict in the southern states of Sudan, C2SP supports the creation of alternative livelihoods opportunities; provision of socioeconomic infrastructure; capacitates communities on peacebuilding; and opportunities of reconciliation and social cohesion, anchored in the locally-owned CMC.  

The CMC members are made up of men, women and youth from different backgrounds representing diverse segments of selected target communities who work together in all aspects of the programme component thus enhancing tolerance between different tribes in the region. Apart from Abu Kershola, C2SP has targeted 6 other communities in South Kordofan - Debaibat, Abu Jubaiyah, Abassiya, Tilo, Hay Almark and Rashad. Since 2015, out of 93 targeted communities, this project has helped realize and create stability, resilience and social cohesion in 21 communities in six different states of Sudan.

UNDP_SDN_03Ben Fisher from DFID Sudan, the UNDP C2SP team and local partner Sibro visiting Abu Kershola in November 2017

C2SP supported the vulnerable communities in Abu Kershola locality through local NGO Sibro, and funding support from the Government of United Kingdom. In November 2017, DFID and UNDP, visited Abu Kershola to assess project progress and discuss challenges and how to better support community security, conflict prevention and development in the region. This was an important mission for people in Abu Kershola as it was the first visit by members of the international community in the last seven years.

During the visit, Abu Kershola CMC members expressed that they learnt new and different ways of mediation, problem solution, and dialogue from the C2SP peacebuilding training. They also collaborated with state peacebuilding mechanism who provided consultations and technical expertise and jointly organized planning and monitoring visits. They reported that, seven cases of conflict were successfully mediated during the course of C2SP intervention.

Thanks to funding from the United Kingdom government and their knowledge, C2SP continues to support stability, conflict prevention and development in the state focusing on unemployed youth with conflict carrying capacities, at-risk women, refugees, returnees and IDPs.

UNDP_SDN_0005Abu Kershola CMC members comprising tribal leaders, farmers, pastoralist, women and youth listen attentively at a peacebuilding workshop.

C2SP efforts have provided immediate results, as shared by CMCs during the visit: The CMCs prevented reoccurence of seven cases of conflict: three different inter-tribal conflicts and four farmers – pastoralists conflicts between 2016 and mid-2017. These conflicts did not escalate because of early interventions by CMCs. Each single time, the grievances were heard and resolved, with stability ensued. Ghada Elnour, an active female member of the CMC proudly expressed “Being a member of the CMC has given me a voice. This is so important to me and other women here. In the past, we were never part of the customary mediation process, but this situation is gradually changing. Due to the training in conflict resolution which we are receiving and the membership in the CMC, I am now proudly assisting in resolving emerging differences between groups and helping to prevent increase of tensions.” Youth representative of the CMC, Abaker Adam Belo added supportively, “Before C2SP intervention, there was little interaction amongst us – the young people in Abu Kershola, we used to meet only during the market day. However, we now come together and interact weekly through peace forums, in peace day celebrations, engage in the integrated farms, and community dialogue. This has helped us work collectively to consolidate unity in the community.”

However, for longer term peace in the region, more efforts need to be made on coordinated initiatives, like the CMC members. As DFID Sudan Conflict Advisor Ben Fisher who visited Abu Kershola notes in his blog “One significant obstacle however hinders the rebuilding of peace in South Kordofan. Access to big parts of the farming areas and pasture lands is restricted by mines and unexploded devices. This seriously limits the land use, both by pastoralists and farmers. Efforts are being made to coordinate with UN Mine Action to make the area safe from unexploded explosive ordinances (UXOs).” In the meantime, Abu Kershola inhabitants rise together through the C2SP supported CMCs to ensure that stability prevails in their area.

To read DFID Sudan blog on the Abu Kershola visit:

https://medium.com/@Chris_Pycroft/towards-a-peaceful-future-in-abukershola-south-kordofan-state-372ff31fd143

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