16 April 2024

Case Study: Peacebuilding in South Sudan

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Empowering Communities through Savings and Loan Groups

South Sudan, the world’s youngest nation, has been plagued by a brutal civil war that has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths and displaced millions of people. The ongoing conflict has devastated the nation’s potential for development and left its population in dire need of peace and reconciliation. This case study will delve into the peacebuilding activities conducted by Mensen met een Missie in collaboration with local entities. It highlights the critical role of these initiatives in rebuilding trust, fostering economic development, and healing the wounds of a fractured nation, ultimately paving the way for a more stable and prosperous future.

The Problem

South Sudan has been plagued by a brutal civil war that erupted in 2013, resulting in the displacement of millions of people and widespread destruction. The conflict has deeply scarred the population, leaving many traumatized and without trust in others or in authorities. The displacement of communities has not only disrupted social cohesion but also severed people’s ties to their land and livelihoods, leading to severe economic hardship. In this context of ongoing instability and despair, the lack of economic opportunities and the trauma of war have left people with little hope for a better future.

Our Approach

In response to these challenges, Mensen met een Missie, in collaboration with our local partners in South Sudan, provides trauma healing, aims to strengthen economic empowerment and foster a sense of community among the people in South Sudan. One of our initiatives is the Village Savings & Loans Associations (VSLA) program in South Sudan. By encouraging savings and providing loans, this program enables individuals to start small businesses, contributing to their economic independence and overall well-being.

Leila Benjamin is one of the participants in the LSVA project and has set up her own shop with a microcredit.

The program is holistic, encompassing trauma healing, literacy training, and entrepreneurship skills development. It addresses the psychological scars of war while providing practical tools for economic recovery. The regular meetings of the VSLA groups also create a supportive environment where members can share their experiences, rebuild trust, and work together towards common goals. This sense of solidarity is crucial in a region striving to overcome the divisions and wounds of civil war.

The Impact

The transformation of Victoria David Batista, a 40-year-old mother of nine, illustrates the profound impact of the VSLA program. Before joining, Victoria’s life was characterized by darkness and dependency. During the war she lost everything. She lacked knowledge in business and decision-making and had no means to support her family independently. The VSLA group not only provided her with financial support but also empowered her with confidence and skills. She used her share from the group to establish a small shop, which has now expanded, enabling her to provide for her family, pay for her children’s school fees, and gain respect in her community.

Victoria’s story is a testament to the program’s success in empowering individuals and fostering a sense of independence and self-worth.

Victoria’s story is a testament to the program’s success in empowering individuals and fostering a sense of independence and self-worth. Her husband, initially skeptical, has now also joined the VSLA group, further highlighting the positive impact on the family and community. The VSLA program is not just rebuilding individual lives but also strengthening the social fabric of communities in South Sudan, providing a foundation for lasting peace and development.