From Chaos to Hope and Engagement
million people have been displaced by conflict and violence since 2013
of the population is under 30
adults cannot write
million children in South Sudan are not receiving an education – the highest proportion of out of school children in the world
children recruited in armed forces in South Sudan
South Sudan is one of the most fragile countries in the world, with lasting peace still an elusive dream for its population. With more than 40 of the past 60 years mired in armed conflicts, it remains in a state of a humanitarian crisis created by the ongoing civil war that started in 2013.
The ongoing conflict has resulted in tens of thousands of casualties and the displacement of 4 million people in a country of originally 11 million people. More than half the population of this fragile nation currently lives below the poverty line. South Sudan – Africa’s youngest country – is striving toward peace and searching for a new way forward.
The situation and challenges faced by South Sudan created an imperative for us to empower cohorts of peacemakers and entrepreneurs among the country’s dynamic youth. These young people are the future of the country. This was emphasized by WPDI Founder and CEO Forest Whitaker in his advocacy campaign to end the enrolment of child soldiers and to reintegrate them into society.
We started working in South Sudan in 2012 and launched our flagship program, the Youth Peacemaker Network(YPN), in the Equatorias region in 2014. We aim to cover the former three States (Eastern, Western and Central) of the region with networks of youth trained who are then supported as they promote peace and development in their communities. The three branches of the YPN in Eastern, Western and Central Equatoria have been launched respectively in 2014, 2017 and 2018. We have so far trained over 300 young peacemakers and entrepreneurs eager to connect with their communities, mediate conflicts and contribute to reducing tensions between communities and ethnic groups. Through community projects, these peacemakers can reach 10,000 people over the course of a year.
The youth organize community dialogues to raise the awareness of thousands of local leaders and citizens about ongoing peace processes and human rights issues or to mediate conflicts among villages that have sometimes been locked in revenge killing cycles for many years. The Youth Peacemakers teach conflict resolution to children and teenagers in schools to spread seeds of peace among the country’s youngest citizens. The small businesses the Peacemakers establish in remote areas improve the life of the community by providing relevant services and jobs for vulnerable youth. Some projects, especially in the farming business, can generate up to 1,400 recruitments over a year. They create incentives for young people, especially males, to remain in the community rather than join militias.
In addition to these groups, 11 Community Learning Centers, mostly in remote places of the Equatorias, have the potential to reach over 100,000 people annually. These centers make invaluable channels to foster peace and sustainable development by providing connectivity and practical training in peace education, ICTs, arts & crafts and entrepreneurship as well as awareness-raising events. In addition, our work in South Sudan also includes psycho-social support to people internally displaced following the recent civil war. Operating directly in a UN-managed protection-of-civilian (POC) site in Juba, our teams work tirelessly to address trauma and other issues while teaching peace through programs based on sports and cinema, with significant impacts on the levels of violence within the camp.
On average, 82 percent of former trainees in ICT we polled six months after their training had experienced a positive career change, with 44 percent of them finding a job.
Key numbers to understand our impact in South Sudan:
Young peacemakers / entrepreneurs supported and empowered
Community Learning Centers serving 115,000 people each year, including 23,000 attending certified trainings
Small Businesses incubated through the Business Boot Camp
Children, youths, and community members reached every year through our Peace Though Sports program
students taken through our Conflict Resolution Education program in schools