Putting down the weapon, picking up the pen

Community sensitization on the dangers of small arms and light weapons with the community center near completion in the background, July 2012 (Photo by: Ahmed Adam/UNDP)

Community Security and Arms Control (CSAC) interventions are a crucial element of UNDP’s Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme in Sudan which aims at creating conducive environments for the peaceful reintegration of ex-combatants and associated groups. Through the CSAC initiative UNDP responds to the security concerns that the communities themselves have identified, thereby strengthening the social cohesion between host communities and ex-combatants as well as bolstering the relationship between communities and state authorities. CSAC interventions implemented by UNDP in Sudan usually consist of both a ‘hard’ component which aims to deliver peace dividends through high-impact infrastructure projects; and a ‘soft’ component which aims to strengthen local capacities for peace through targeted trainings and other capacity development activities. Interventions are designed to empower community members to identify, discuss and address local insecurities and conflicts through participatory and inclusive community consultations and the development of local community security plans. These plans outline priorities identified by the communities to deliver basic services and ensure increased accountability for them.

The Mazmoom community in Sennar state hosts many returnees who were forced to move back following the separation of South Sudan. Community consultations showed that key concerns identified by the community included conflict between farmers and pastoralists, mainly related to land resources and ownership and limited basic service provision, especially in the area of education. In order to address these issues, UNDP through its implementing partner Elnasaiem, a national NGO, has embarked on a six-month CSAC project in April 2012. For the soft component, emphasis was put on strengthening the local capacities for peace by establishing a community CSAC committee to provide a forum designed to help reduce the tensions between the members of the communities, and liaise with the Government on issues regarding access to basic services and other measures necessary to accommodate the returnees from South Sudan.

Other activities include the provision of literacy/numeracy classes for youth and women and training for local teachers, as well as civic education activities on conflict resolution and peace building, and awareness-raising on the dangers of small arms and light weapons. Upcoming activities include the roll out of the ‘One Man Can’ Campaign, which seeks to promote ‘positive masculinities’ and educate male community members on the dangers of violence and negative attitudes towards women. Elnasaiem is expected to complete activities by the end of September 2012, reaching an estimated 2,000 community members.

To complement the soft component, UNDP is supporting the construction of a school/community centre in order to prevent potential conflict over basic services as XCs slowly begin to return to the area. The school, once constructed, will be supported by both the government and UNDP through the provision of staff as outlined in a Memorandum of Understanding recently signed between UNDP and the Ministries of Education and Social Welfare. The school will be fully functional up to grade five and has a maximum capacity of 200 students. In the evenings, the facility, will also serve as a venue for the community CSAC committee’s initiatives such as women’s capacity development trainings, and sensitization on small arms and light weapons.

The project is made possible through the generous support of the Government of Norway and the Government of Japan.

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