The APF, along with another Trust, is funding a three-phase Behaviour Change project over two years to promote peace and security in Cueibit Diocese, South Sudan. Like the rest of South Sudan, Cueibit Diocese has experienced civil violence since the outbreak of civil war in December 2013. The area is very remote and transport difficult, especially in the rainy season.
As the first phase of the project, Bishop Elijah and a peace-building team including women, youth leaders and two pastors were able to visit 10 payams (villages) and cattle camps on an Outreach Mission between the 15th of January and the 2nd of February 2019, travelling by motorcycle.
On the fifth day of the visits, fighting broke out between two local communities and the Bishop’s team were able to work together with police to diffuse the conflict and bring about a peaceful resolution.
During these visits, the team met with payam administrators, chiefs, elders, and young people to discuss ways of improving peace-building and other issues vital to their communities. Youth violence, tensions between groups, problems with water and general community security emerged as prominent concerns.
Pastors and laity were given training on building peace in their communities. Local leaders were trained to be advocates on behalf of their communities while pastors were helped to develop effective peace messages to communicate through Sunday services. Peer educators also learned how to compose peace songs.
There was also successful outreach to young men who had been involved in the civil unrest and in cattle-raiding.
As access to this remote area is limited, many pastoral duties were also carried out by the Bishop during these visits including baptisms, confirmations and the ordination of three women. Praying together for peace was an important part of every visit.
This first phase of the project has highlighted which actions need to be undertaken in the second phase (August 2019).
- Training women peace workers including in mitigation
- Training for radio presenters – in this vast rural area communication is difficult and the radio has an essential role in getting peace messages to distant communities
- Radio programmes broadcast twice a month for four months
- Peer education as a means of young people working directly with other young people
- Setting up house to house meetings four times a month to address issues before they develop a threat to security.