How South Sudan is finding peace without Smartphones

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Use of a mobile devices is the most probable way of calling for peace, if you are lucky enough, you will get any peace intended messages real time going about your business thanks to the properly installed wireless internet connections in hotels, public vehicles, offices and designated zones.

Those in the twitter day, hashtags and Facebook notifications will keep you informed of campaigns around. So, what happens to those without a smartphone to circulate these peace messages or any positive campaigns at all?

As violence continues to grow in the south Sudan, a group of young people in the region is proving that you don’t have to have the latest smart phone or even a high speed Internet to communicate with their peers to curb the violence. And their project seems to be working.

Mobile phones and online social networks are limited in South Sudan’s rural regions forcing many people to rely on traditional means of communication – primarily radio. Nearly three-quarters of the population listen on a daily basis. For many people in Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Unity states, where the fighting has been the thickest, community radio and shortwave are critical sources of information about the conflict. And the lack of communication options has forced peacebuilders to take creative and novel steps to do get across messages that both contain vital information — and could even help pave the way toward peace.

In South Sudan, The Sawa Shabab Radio Drama created by members of the Peace tech Lab and local community members is one of the more innovative attempts to reach at-risk youth communities and is just starting its second season. Premised around hosting a continuing conversation with youths and changing attitudes about their roles in resolving conflict, the first season began airing last year in English and Arabic — five episodes were also piloted in Dinka and Nuer languages.

The series’ curriculum focuses on three main areas, identified by local experts as critical to building peace in South Sudan.
•    Co-Existence and National Identity – To promote peaceful co-existence and mutual respect among South Sudanese youth from different cultural and tribal orientations.

  •  Youth Empowerment and Personal Responsibility – To create the foundations of peace building by empowering South Sudanese youth to be accountable, independent and participatory citizens of society.
  •  Gender – To promote peaceful and democratic growth in society by fostering an understanding of gender equality.

At the end of each episode, the program asks its audience to call and text into the show and responds to scripted questions about the story lines and how they think the characters are responding to conflict. They receive hundreds of responses after every episode. It empowers the youth audience to think differently about how to build peace.

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Winfred Kuria
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Winfred Kuria is a self-constituted web content writer in charge of Tech News and Events Publicity at Kachwanya.com. She will communicate in the simplest way possible with an aim of changing the world one mind at a time.
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