Community Engagement and Perspectives | 20 March 2019 | by Selma van Oostwaard0
Payinjiar security dialogue: one step closer to peace
-GANYIEL- In March 2019 PAX and local partners SSANSA and AMA held a second community security dialogue in Payinjiar county (southern Unity). The new community perception survey results were shared with local authorities, chiefs and civil society representatives, while the way forward was discussed. The progress made in the security situation since the first survey round and dialogue held in 2017, was remarkable.
In our first survey results from 2017, reported insecurity levels and incident rates were high, and authorities representing all 16 payams (administrative divisions) of Payinjiar county pleaded for a change to the destabilizing cycles of cattle raids and indiscriminate killings in the border areas with the Dinka of Western and Eastern Lakes states. Generally, communities felt insecure and thought that they and their cattle were in need of protection by either their own security actors, as well as through self-protection by using guns.
Our dialogues (in 2017 and 2019) contribute to a broader peace process in which chiefs and authorities from Greater Yirol (Eastern Lakes), Amongpiny (Western Lakes), and Payinjiar agreed they would address issues of cattle raiding and (revenge) killing jointly, and that there should be freedom of movement by the communities into each other’s territories. In May 2018, the first of these peace conferences was organized in Ganyliel, after which the follow-up conference was held in Nyang (Eastern Lakes) in September 2018, attended by both Nuer and Dinka chiefs as well as local authorities at county and state levels.
Local security development
Even though the 2018 survey was collected before the first peace conference was held and the agreement was shared with the communities, the general results showed a decrease in reported security incidents. The results also showed a general improvement of community members’ perceptions regarding local security development compared to 2017. The community representatives present at the recently held dialogue readily accepted and agreed with the community views shared through the survey results. Participants even expected that, would we survey at this point in time, reported security levels would be further improved compared to May 2018.
Peace process positively impacts communities
In the resulting two days of discussion and priority setting, it became apparent that the existing peace process with the Dinka of Western and Eastern Lakes has had a profound impact on community’s views of the current situation and their expectations for the future. Where the 2017 dialogue was mainly focused on the threats posed by neighboring communities, the 2019 dialogue provided much more opportunities to discuss mainly internal security issues such as rape and revenge killing and the way these crimes should be handled by local security providers. Nearly all dialogue participants were happy that the current peace process existed. Furthermore they were both hopeful and protective to pursue the peace with neighboring communities more, so the agreements would hold and the fruits of peace would benefit more communities.
PAX, SSANSA and AMA hope to return to Ganyliel later this year to train the enumerators for a third round of data collection, in which we hope to see further evidence of the increased community confidence in the local peace process.