The region of South Kordofan became the southernmost frontier of Sudan following South Sudanese independence. In 2011, an armed group formed of veterans of the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement (SPLM) launched an insurgency against the Sudanese government in Khartoum under the banner of the SPLM-North. By 2013, up to 70,000 government troops were engaged with 30,000 SPLM-North soldiers across South Kordofan.1 As the fighting escalated, displacing populations and placing great strain on limited resources, the local population became increasingly affected by the conflict.
In response to the growing crisis, Peace Direct and Collaborative for Peace Sudan (CPS) supported the establishment of 11 Peace Committees formed of local residents in South Kordofan. The Committees have access to a Rapid Response Fund, which provides resources to facilitate interventions as they are required. In practice, the actions of such Committees are limited to promoting dialogue, raising awareness, and hosting talks if facilities are available.2 For example, in 2017, the Peace Committee in Delenj was invited by local elites to intervene in a conflict between farmers and pastoralists over the destruction of crops. The previous year, ten people were killed in fighting between the communities, and growing tension had raised fears of a much worse conflict. After negotiations mediated by the Committee, the communities agreed to restore and enforce traditional codes of practice that had prevented conflict in the past, establish a joint committee to monitor the agreement, and to no longer carry small arms. In addition, the communities together lobbied the government in Khartoum to improve water distribution in the area.3 Such actions have led to a meaningful reduction in armed conflict in South Kordofan. Peace Direct highlights that 80 percent of interventions successfully prevented or ended armed conflict, with no subsequent incidents connected to the resolved conflicts.4 Many of the conflicts are recorded as being ‘at high risk of triggering mass atrocities’ and therefore could have easily escalated, including three cases which had already cost the lives of hundreds of people.5