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Designing Pathways to Peace and Prosperity through market-based resilience in Malakal, South Sudan

Helping youth in South Sudan map peaceful pathways to prosperity by addressing root drivers of conflict and providing economic opportunity

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Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Ethnic conflict in South Sudan predates the country’s independence from Sudan in 2011. These tensions further escalated in 2013, ignited by a political struggle between the President and former Vice-President. As a result, conflict continues to wage resulting in the death of more than 50,000 civilians, displacement of more than 1.5 million and irreparable damage to the economy, agricultural sector and social fabric of society. According to Human Rights Watch, 2 million South Sudanese children are out of school and more than 70 percent of the population are illiterate.
The second largest town after Juba, Malakal was at the center of the civil war and bore the brunt of its effects. Young people in Malakal face enormous challenges in accessing education, finding work and earning a steady income, compounded by fragile markets and weak governance, leaving them vulnerable to becoming involved in systemic ethnic clashes and violent political struggles.
The project integrates mutually reinforcing components of peacebuilding and income generation in an effort to begin to rebuild trust between groups of youth, with an aim to link peacebuilding efforts and cooperation for economic benefits for all.
Youth will be provided with the requisite tools and skills to start, scale-up and sustain income generating activities including cash transfers and participation in businesses and savings groups, intentionally comprised of young people from different backgrounds. At the same time, youth will be trained in peacebuilding education and conflict resolution to promote collaboration for income generation, savings and market participation. Peacebuilding and conflict resolution will be an integral part of the soft skills component of the project, helping young people to address perceived differences, promote mutual understanding and build healthy relationships as they relate to business development, savings groups, and everyday life.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries will be youth ages 18 – 35 (50% females) who are out of work, school or training programs in Malakal Protection of Civilians site, Upper Nile State, South Sudan. The specific ethnic groups targeted are the Dinka, Nuer, and Shilluk youth in the Protection of Civilians site and Malakal Town which have been victim to the ongoing conflict and politics of the country, yet they share the markets for their livelihoods. They will benefit through the opportunity to form their own business and receive support and training throughout the 24 month period to create a sustainable group of youth business leaders from different ethnic backgrounds and communities. Investing in youth now, will achieve longer term stability of the next generation of youth in Malakal.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Livelihoods training and economic support alone do not always prevent youth from becoming involved in violence; conversely, peacebuilding alone does not offer youth economic opportunities or reduce poverty in their communities. Some organizations have begun implementing peacebuilding-economic development initiatives for youth, however; cash transfers to youth as a catalyst to peacebuilding for economic opportunity is not widely practiced. War Child Canada has been working with conflict-affected communities in South Sudan since 2011, providing livelihoods and peacebuilding support to youth and their families. Last year, War Child Canada implemented a successful cash-for-work project with youth in Malakal. Years of experience has informed an in-depth understanding of the communities, the conflict drivers, as well as strong relationships with the youth and community leaders, uniquely positioning the organization to implement this new idea.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

By providing access to education, opportunity and justice, War Child Canada gives children in war-affected communities the chance to reclaim their childhood and break the cycle of poverty and violence


Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The impetus for the idea came from youth feedback on a recent peace-building project; female and male youth said they had learned to respect members from other ethnic groups, but that they would like to improve the functionality of these newly formed relationships through business start-up and management. They said: “We need something to reduce our economic stress in a way that helps us peacefully engage in small businesses for group benefit and to cooperate to reduce violence among youth"

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace has been compromised at the national level, further exacerbating tensions in Malakal. Many communities are targeted by political, military, or para-military to mobilize youth groups for their own means . Political fragmentation undermines the peace negotiations and the stability of the country . Prosperity has also suffered by limiting opportunity for investment, sustainable businesses, education, training, or employment. Inflation rates are over 800% with 48% of the population is identified as being in ‘Crisis and Emergency levels’ of food insecurity. Malakal Protection of Civilians site is particularly sensitive, given the restrictive environment and tension within the Protection of Civilians site limiting opportunities for income generation. The resulting cycle of poverty is a challenge to immediate and long-term peace and prosperity.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Youth in Malakal have been engaged in this project design from the start. Their strengths, needs and interests have been incorporated through participatory focus group discussions. Many of them have ideas for businesses that they would start through cooperation with each other and with cash capital, such as a phone charging centers, a hair dressing salon and charcoal sales. The result is a youth-led project design that builds on the successes of previous initiatives. The Upper Nile Youth Development Association (UNYDA), will work alongside us. UNYDA is a local network of youth associations that foster the capacity of youth to transform their socio-economic circumstances and strengthen peaceful relationships in their communities. War Child Canada and UNYDA have worked in partnership with South Sudanese communities providing youth leadership training, community engagement and capacity building to create sustainable, youth-led peace structures.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

During focus group discussions with local youth, we learned about their enthusiasm for additional market opportunities by working cooperatively with others and building their skills in income generation activities. Their current participation in the market speaks to their resilience, earning income for their households despite existing barriers. They have acute knowledge of market gaps and needs and have already designed business concepts. Our project will respond to this expressed need.

Geographic Focus

South Sudan: Malakal County (Malakal Protection of Civilians site & Malakal town), Upper Nile State

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

24 months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

1 comment

Join the conversation:

Photo of Ashley Tillman

Hi Ashley, great to see you in the Challenge! Would love to learn a little more about your program. Two questions that immediately come to mind: 1) how do you identify and select, which young people get to be a part of the program? and 2) Can you share a bit more about the peace building part of your program?

Dima Boulad and Jean-Marc Mercy curious if either of you have any questions or thoughts too!