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Winning the Peace and Starting (Re)construction in Southern Sudan


Promoters: The African Research and Resource Forum (ARRF), the Government of Southern Sudan (GoSS) through the Southern Sudan Reconstruction and Development Fund (SSRDF). Donors: Heinrich Boell Foundation (Germany) IDRC (Canada), NPA (Norway) and ACBF (AfricaCountry (ies) and institutions Sudan (Southern Sudan) with the involvement of experts from Kenya, Uganda, Namibia, Ethiopia and representatives of CODESRIA and UNECA, together with the implementing and funding organizations named above.


Before the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) between the northern National Congress Party (NCP) and Southern Sudan's Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM), in January 2005, international efforts focused on resolution of the conflict that led to Africa's longest war at the time. After the signing of the CPA, the new GoSS was established as a semi-autonomous public authority in Southern Sudan but with links to the unitary Sudan state, in what was described as a 'one country two systems' governance order. GoSS established the SSRDF as per the CPA and the interim constitution of Southern Sudan with the mandate of mobilizing resources from bilateral and multilateral donors for the socio-economic reconstruction of Southern Sudan in the post-conflict1 period. After the January 9, 2011 referendum in which Southern Sudanese voted overwhelmingly for secession from the north, the task of nation-building in southern Sudan is even more enormous as the region now becomes an independent state. This case story is about ARRF's contribution to the consultations towards the peace agreement as well as in post-conflict reconstruction., including the state-building project in the post-referendum period. ARRF's work involved the organization's own staff and experts/academics from across the continent in various activities to input into these crucial processes of peace building, reconstruction and state-building. This experience provides learning opportunity on the potential impact of collective academic/research action by African professional on contemporary African development challenges. 1 We know that this (post-conflict) is a contested notion, as the conflict clearly rages on. One may find reference to 'post-CPA' and 'post-referendum' periods, rather than post-conflict period, more appropriate.

Background and set-up

Activities under this program started in 2001 under a project named ' Building Blocks for Peace in the Horn of Africa and the Great Lakes Region'. This was a project of the African Academy of Sciences (AAS), coordinated by Prof. Peter Anyang' Nyong'o, an AAS Fellow and current Minister for Medical Services of Kenya. In these early stages, the project was not entirely focussed on the Sudan conflict; it was intended to cover major conflicts in the Great Lakes and Horn of Africa at the time. But during the first two seminars convened under the project in 2001 and 2002, in which the AAS invited leading scholars and researchers on regional peace and security, including some from Sudan, it was agreed that a more focussed attention to a single or a couple of conflict situations, rather than the general concern with conflicts in the region, was necessary. It is then that the project selected to direct all attention to the Sudanese conflict. It could be said that the visible presence of Southern Sudanese academics and activists at the two seminars influenced this choice. To some extent, successive activities resulted from the demands raised by southern Sudanese academics, SPLM leaders and civil society leaders, most of whom were resident in Nairobi at the time and had opportunity to attend the meetings and interact with the project team regularly. The first phase of activities in the re-configured project aimed at consolidating the contributions of the civil society and academic communities to the peace negotiation process that was going on between SPLM and NCP in Kenya at the time. These negotiations had been mainly political, involving the two political and military sides, rather than the broader society and stakeholder groups. A fact-finding visit to Southern Sudan by a group of Kenyan and Ugandan academics and Members of Parliament was organized, leading to the production of a documentary 'Blood for Oil'. This was followed by a 4-days regional conference on 'Winning the Peace and Starting Re-construction in Southern Sudan', held in Nairobi, Kenya in October 2004, attended by over 100 participants, mainly southern Sudanese leaders of civil society organizations, academics and some SPLM leaders. Southern Sudanese representation was identified by the academic and civil society leaders already mentioned to have been resident in Nairobi at the time. But the involvement of senior SPLM officials was achieved through the goodwill and respect that they accorded the project coordinator, who is a renown African academic, a keen analyst of the Sudan conflict and at that time, a senior cabinet minister in Kenya. To that extent, the personal scholarly and political standing of the coordinator played a big role2. Had it not been that most of the Southern Sudanese leaders targeted were residents in Nairobi, the logistical and financial requirements of the project would be a great challenge. The financial investment yielded much more than proportional returns, as the participation of civil society and academics was to be mainstreamed in the peace negotiations soon after the conference, yet the costs of achieving were relatively low. After the signing of the CPA, activities had to be held in Juba, and this presented serious financial and logistical challenges. But the convening power of ARRF built in past years as already described, was extremely helpful in mobilizing both resources and expertise.

The partnership

The main partners in the project were ARRF and GoSS, through SSRDF (after the CPA, before CPA: ARRF and selected southern Sudanese and SPLM leaders acting individual capacities). In the pre-CPA period, ARRF offered the leadership and coordination required in the project, mainly because of the organizational limitations of the individual Sudanese leaders with whom we collaborated. Even though they did not have an institutional base, the southern Sudanese leaders acted very effectively and delivered on roles assigned to them, in analysis and agenda development and mobilization of credible representation. ARRF focused on mobilizing financial resources and the regional community of academics and professionals. After the CPA and with the involvement of GoSS/SSRDF, the partner contribution became even greater with SSRDF taking p all coordination roles for activities in Juba and also contributing to financing of events. Major arms of GoSS were involved in the SSRDF/ARRF activities including the Offices of the President and his Deputy, the SSLA and state governments. Civil society was also involved, but not as much as was the case before the signing of the CPA. Throughout the project, financial and other progress and evaluation documentation have been held by ARRF, and accessible to all stakeholders interested in reviewing them. Interestingly, none of the main partners has expressed interest to review this information. The recently initiated the partnership with CODESRIA and UNECA is likely to be more structured in financial and 2 Even though, he had, by then handed over most of the coordination role to an Assistant Coordinator, he was still closely involved and could be credited with the 'convening power' that the project exhibited. information management. In this set-up, it is likely that an oversight mechanism will be established. Previously, ARRF has only accounted to the donors, for funds received from them, while GoSS has also retained all information regarding its resource commitments to project activities.

Lessons learned

Prior to the conference held in 2004, civil society and academic communities in southern Sudan hard great difficulties in consolidating their positions and getting involved in the peace process. In a sense, they lacked the organizational and analytical capacity (individuals may have had analytical capacities, but processing the complex issues for the civil society and academia involvement in the peace process required even expert views from outside/other experiences). ARRF therefore built the actors' capacities in this regard. When the SSRDF was established, it was extremely difficult for the team to mobilize resources for reconstruction before getting indicative development trajectories for the short, medium and long-term. This is where ARRF came in, convening the first conference on reconstruction and development after the CPA, jointly with SSRDF, during which southern Sudanese scholars from around the world came to Juba to present their analysis on development planning and implementation for various sectors, thereby strengthening SSRDF's capacity to handle the task at hand. Furthermore, a number of the academics who attended the ARRF/SSRDF conference got persuaded by GoSS to take up government positions either as advisors, technical staff or diplomatic envoys. ARRF' strong linkages with southern Sudanese and other Africa academics interested in post-conflict state building, became the major comparative advantage from which SSDRF has benefitted. Recently, ARRF collaborated with UNECA and CODESRIA to host a seminar on post-referendum state-building in southern Sudan, bring together leading African scholars. It is unlikely that a northern institution would mobilize African academics at the scale ARRF has been doing. GoSS acknowledges this unique potential of ARRF, making the organization a key player in the reconstruction of southern Sudan.

Complementarity with north-south cooperation

The traditional donors supporting reconstruction in southern Sudan through the World Bank-managed Multi-Donor Trust Fund(MDTF) did not play significant roles in this process. The limitation of the mechanism therefore lies in its inability to capture the main activities in the reconstruction effort, which are usually coordinated by donor institutions. But it may actually have been that the donor mechanisms in themselves had the shortcoming of not linking up with other critical processes in reconstruction. Because of this disconnect with other initiatives, it is difficult to attribute development results to specific processes or to pick out clear lessons for best practices from the various disparate processes, including the ARRF/SSRDF one. However, there are lessons for best practices, even in the limited sense of mobilizing intellectual resources for post-conflict reconstruction in countries emerging from conflict and/or newly established states.

How to share

The exchange of knowledge between southern scholars on the question of post-conflict reconstruction in southern Sudan has been effective and impacted positively on the region's development. It is to be recommended to other post-conflict situations, especially where years of war have led to acute brain drain and the challenges of reconstruction are too complex to be addressed by a national group of academics and researchers. ARRF is very much willing to share experiences from this process with other organizations that may be in positions to make similar contributions in post-conflict reconstruction elsewhere, or even with specific units/projects in southern Sudan. We might need

Duration :

In 2001, and ongoing

Contact information

George Omondi
Research Fellow
Off Waiyaki Way | P O Box 57103 - 00200 | Nairobi | KENYA Tel: +254 20 8330457 | 3002721| 0731210780/0728-606619