Holy Trinity Peace Village Kuron
HTPV Kuron is a home for people from different tribes and faiths who have been in conflict for many years. The initiative is addressing broken relationships and building trust by meeting shared livelihood, education, cultural and health needs.
Primary conflict dynamics revolve around cattle raiding and child abduction between Toposa and Jie, Toposa and Nyamatong, Jie and Murle communities.
Kuron, Eastern Equatoria.
Jie, Murle, Toposa, Kachipo, Nyangatom communities: These groups trace their origin to a common ancestor but view themselves as traditional enemies due to cattle raiding and competition over grazing and water.
2005 - ongoing
Bishop Paride Taban, HTPV Kuron, PAX, Christian Aid, NCA.
HTPV Kuron is a home to people from different tribes and faiths who have been in conflict for many years. In 1998, the area was inaccessible by road except between the months of January and March, and the whole Greater Upper Nile region was cut off from Eastern Equatoria by the Kuron River. In 1998, Bishop Paride Taban constructed a bridge over the Kuron River to connect the two regions and 81 families from Toposa, Jie, Murle, Nyangatom and Kachipo decided on their own accord to settle around the bridge to protect it (for it had also provided a new challenge as raiders used the bridge during the rainy season to extend and intensify cattle raiding). This settled community was the genesis of the peace village proper, which grew until by 2007 it included representatives of over eight ethnic communities, as well as a number of Kenyans and Ugandans. The HTPV Kuron now has a stable foundation in Kapoeta East County, Eastern Equatoria, after the commissioner allocated 10km squared of land to the project.
The initial approach was to address broken relationships and build trust by meeting shared livelihood, education and health needs, beginning with a joint agricultural project. This has since broadened to reflect the deeper needs linked to both individual and collective development and reconciliation and now includes programmes of cultural activity, vocational training and chaplaincy. For example, inter-community theatre groups explore social issues and a training centre offers skills in carpentry, maths and writing. The Peace Village also coordinates Joint Peace Teams (comprising seven people from Boma and seven from Kaljok) that monitor security issues between Murle and Jie, respond to incidents and risks and take collective decisions. HTPV Kuron is viewed by some as a laboratory for South Sudan, and while it would not be appropriate to assume that it can simply be replicated across South Sudan as it is so rooted in context and leadership, there are plans to develop a Peace Academy to enable other areas of South Sudan to learn from the approach.
Lessons from Kuron and the location itself is being used to strengthen other local peace efforts.
Peace is a long term transformative process in which integrity, commitment and long term engagement is key;
The integration of cultural tools and practices is a powerful resource in peacebuilding, allowing for positive expressions and shared appreciation of identity and diversity.
Shared economic interests can create opportunities for peace. Twin goals of shared economic cooperation and social transformation can be mutually reinforcing.
Conflict dynamics do not follow administrative boundaries. This must be taken into account when imagining new peace efforts.
Peaceful mechanisms like HTPV Kuron administration can facilitate inter-community communication and cooperation, and through this maintain security, even in absence of functioning government structures in the region.
This said, it is important to acknowledge that nationally linked conflict can disrupt even the most positive local initiatives.
Quotes from People Involved
“I have already prepared my grave here to show that I’m not going to leave.” - Bishop Paride Taban, Official Announcements
“For us there is no government, if anything happens we have to do it here even if we don’t have the resources" - Interview, Kuron Coordinator, 2017
In September 2017, escalation and ethnicisation of the wider war throughout the Equatorias impacted even this safe space for peaceful coexistence. Members of communities other than Toposa returned to their ancestral homelands.
Work is now ongoing to facilitate their return and rebuild the peaceful coexistence. In Easter 2018, the community once again celebrated together.