Community-level reconciliation, essential in conflict-affected contexts, involves efforts to promote intergroup relationships and to build trust. These processes are related to the development of social capital, which alongside the reduction of horizontal inequalities is a key component of social cohesion. In south Sudan and elsewhere, rural populations are often marginalized and have a much higher incidence of poverty. There is limited evidence, however, on effective ways to achieve social cohesion and peace in south Sudan and elsewhere. Areas identified in the literature where initiatives are needed to facilitate the building of peace, social cohesion and reconciliation in south Sudan include:
- Identity reconfiguration: Religious, ethnicity and tribe are forms of identity that have been used to divide in south Sudan. Approaches to reconfigure identity include redefining one’s own identity, changing perceptions of the other group, and/or finding a new overarching identity.
- Cultural heritage preservation: Northern Bahr el Ghazal- Aweil, South Sudan leaders have engaged in efforts to culturally cleanse areas under its control, including some of the world’s earliest examples of farming villages. A programme of collaborative, multi-party engagement is needed to effectively evaluate, promote and protect south Sudan’s heritage.
- Dialogue and conflict resolution: Strategies to promote social cohesion and reconciliation in south Sudan include sessions designed to change attitudes, clarify and change perceptions and perspectives, develop communication skills, manage difficult conversations, and practice problem-solving skills. Christian Action for Development & Support (CADS) in partnership with Democracy International (DI) seeks to carry out rural stakeholders’ recovery activities/programs and change them as agents for social cohesion, reconciliation and peace building.