In the borderlands of South Sudan, Uganda and Kenya nomadic cattle-herding communities like the Karamojong, Turkana and Toposa have been living at odds with each other and their neighbours for many years. Most groups have similar ancestry (culturally and linguistically known as Ateker). The population provides mainly in its own security aiming at survival. They migrate with cattle searching for pasture and water.
The area is characterized by rough climatological conditions, limited government presence or capacity to protect civilians and large availability of weapons and ammunition caused by the many and (almost) constant wars in the region. The majority of the population is illiterate.
Cattle raiding is a custom that has been practiced for many centuries in the area. With the introduction of modern weapons like Kalashknikovs this has led to many deaths, also among women and children. It is important to aim at breaking this cycle of violence and promoting trust between communities and the government (if present at all) because of the disconnect between government and the population.
PAX supports local organisations and churches in this area that act as intermediaries between rivalling communities and between communities and governments, army and police. Our partners promote peace and security in the area as well as collaboration between government and the population. In addition, research and regional lobby are part of the work of PAX and partners.
*) early warning and rapid response: After a conflict or cattle raid has taken place local organisations or peace committees come and talk with the people involved and (if present) the government, to find out what exactly happened, who participated and why. Information is cross-checked between partners often representing the needs of different communities and/or government actors (if present). The aim is preventing rumours that can easily accelerate conflicts and gather (evidence based) information. This is important for perpetrators to compensate victims and for any consequent community dialogue where peace negotiations are at stake. Collaboration with government actors is crucial who are in the end responsible for maintaining law and order.
- Lotus Kenya Action for Development Organisation (LOKADO)
- Lokkichoggio Peace Organisation (LOPEO), Kenya
- Catholic Diocese Of Lodwar (CDOL), Kenya
- Karamoja Human Rights Consortium, Uganda
- Kotido Peace Initiative (KOPEIN), Uganda
- Dodoth Agro-pastoralist Development Organisation (DADO), Uganda
- Catholic Dioceses of Kotido (CDOK), Uganda
- Losolia Rehabilitation Development Association (LRDA), South Sudan
- Kuron Peace Village (HTPVK), South Sudan
- Catholic Diocese of Torit (CDOT), South Sudan
Activities & Results
PAX supports inclusive dialogue initiatives, that contribute to a culture of non-violence aiming at conflict resolution and transformation. In addition, also at a higher level, PAX and its partners contribute to negotiating peace agreements and monitoring compliance.
Strengthening local government
We help strengthen local government skills in promoting peace and good governance on community (payam) and village (boma) levels in South Sudan. The idea is to enable them to work on peacebuilding and development by integrating traditional society structures into the modern government.
Strengthening peace networks across borders
PAX is co-founder of and supports a network of South Sudanese, Ugandan and Kenyan organisations, churches promoting peace and security in this area. Together, these organisations observe the human rights situation and are watchful for any infringements, also by government actors. In addition partners observe the local and regional human security situation and cross-checking through a basic system of early warning & rapid response*.
Dealing with the past and breaking the cycle of violence
Cattle-raiding and conflict are deeply rooted in the local culture leading to a cycle of violence, revenge and counter-revenge. Atrocities and human rights violations rooted in the past cause breeding ground for fear, hate and renewed conflict. Healing old wounds (traditionally) is part of our peace work. Ritual cleansing ceremonies and commemorations of historic peace agreements are important to build mutual trust.
Peace & Sports and theatre
Traditionally, cattle raiding is a way for young men to achieve the status of a hero. Cows and Kalashnikovs continue to be a measuring device for status over generations. Sports and theatre are used to change the mindset of warriors and to break the cycle of violence. Messages on human rights, peace and security are transferred to a largely illiterate population in a creative manner.