The region is also chronically underdeveloped. “There’s not just no smartphones, there’s no electricity, no phone network and maybe one or two TVs in each village,” says Helena Puig Larrauri, cofounder of Build Up, which uses technology for peacebuilding.
This social enterprise was tasked by the US Agency for International Development with helping to improve relationships between Dinkas and Misseriya.
Its approach was simple. Build Up staff gave two mixed Misseriya-Dinka teams video equipment and helped them create films about the fragile peace in the South Sudanese market town of Majok Nyithiou. These films were shown last year at various settlements along the border.
“This was a way of using the local information ecosystem to send out a message of peace,” says Puig Larrauri. “For the individuals and communities directly involved in the project, collaboration in the filmmaking process became a path for Dinkas and Misseriya to discuss the conflict.”
Keep it simple
Each conflict is unique. People fight for varied reasons that often depend on highly localised economic, social and political factors. However, common themes run through many disputes, including a lack of communication and accurate information. In this context, the ongoing explosion in access to technology, the internet and mobile phones holds great promise for peacebuilding.