Interfaith Dialogue Towards Sustainable Peace in Juba, Yei and Bor Counties

South Sudan is a fragile country because it is still in a state of civil war although the warring parties have signed a peace agreement. The persistent civil war has trickled down to the lower levels of society and destroyed relations between ethnic groups and communities. Local militias and ethnic groups and communities took sides in the national conflict and fought each other. This is why in South Sudan, Faith to Action Network chose to focus on peacebuilding. It is being implemented by the Evangelical Alliance of South Sudan and its women’s commission, the Pan African Christian Women Alliance of South Sudan (PACWA), the project is titled Interfaith Dialogue Towards Sustainable Peace in Juba, Yei and Bor Counties. EASS/PACWA developed the project to respond to the problems of ethnic extremism, violence and intolerance in South Sudan and chose to start with the three counties where the problem is acute.

The project is a continuation of EASS’s previous projects on peacebuilding, reconciliation and peaceful co-existence among communities and cultural groups and between and within faiths in different regions of South Sudan. Its objectives are to reduce conflict and build peace, to strengthen community peace structures, and to improve the network of inter-faith and intra-faith peace leaders and facilitators. These interventions will contribute to decrease levels of community-based conflicts, create community peace platforms that will be facilitate reconciliation and trauma healing, linking all faith actors in order to foster a peaceful coexistence.

EASS and PACWA have initiated interventions which have addresses these problems in the past. Since 2003, EASS/PACWA has been actively involved in reconciliation, humanitarian and development work in South Sudan. Its peacebuilding project enhanced the skills of leaders from evangelical churches from all regions of South Sudan. Funded by the Tearfund of the United Kingdom, the project reached 800 direct beneficiaries and more than 3000 indirect beneficiaries. EASS has also implemented choir competitions for members from Evangelical Churches with the theme of peaceful co-existence. The competition attracted thousands of people and EASS provided trophies and awards to choirs to encourage them to continue with messages of peace and tolerance in South Sudan. During the implementation of these projects, EASS/PACWA used religious forums and worked with other civil society organisations in the communities.

For its part, PACWA, as an EASS Commission that specifically focuses on women, has conceived and implemented projects aimed at empowering the women of South Sudan using funds from the continental office through PACWA-Kenya in Nairobi. Initially, PACWA organised interfaith fellowships which provided women of South Sudan with an opportunity to share their experiences of the war in their country. Supported by EASS Secretariat, PACWA also implemented a project on peacebuilding and trauma counselling. The project trained women from different EASS Churches on issues of peacebuilding and trauma counselling and deployed them to reach more than 14 churches in Juba.

As part of project preparations, a team of Faith to Action Network and Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa travelled to South Sudan from 23–31 October 2018 to orient EASS/PACWA teams to the grant requirements, EU rules and principles, quality and standards of the documents, and the contracting process. EASS signed the subgrant agreement in December and immediately started implementing the project.

Most recent interfaith work in South Sudan

  •   Announcement – Call for Proposals Faith to Action Network, Council of Anglican Provinces of Africa, African Council of Religious Leaders – Religions for Peace and All African Conference of Churches call upon their member organisations to submit proposals for funding. When faith organisations join hands, they can exert powerful influence on leaders and communities

  • Most religions provide people with values such as empathy, love for strangers, forgiveness, offering moral warrants and normative symbols for understanding and respect for cultural and religious diversity. For example, Christians and Muslims share concepts such as peace/salam, forgiveness/afu, compassion/rahmah and human beings in the eyes of God/fitrah. Yet, according to Pew-Templeton Global Religious Futures