Youth in South Sudan: livelihoods and conflict

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This review looks at livelihood issues related to “youth” in South Sudan, focusing on factors influencing decision-making by young men on livelihood options (both violent and non-violent) and trusted avenues of communication. In South Sudan, youth is not a fixed biological category, but a fluid social construct, and broadly refers to young men aged between 18 and 40/45. It is not possible to give definitive answers to the questions posed, and by its nature this review generalises motivations and choices. Therefore, when considering this review’s findings, it is important to bear in mind the diversity of youth and their motivations in South Sudan, the complexity of its different ethnicities and cultural identities, and that these identities remain highly flexible and may change in response to the dynamic environment.

South Sudan is culturally, socially, economically, politically, ecologically and spiritually diverse. The literature suggests that there are multiple motivations for youth livelihood choices, including engagement in violent conflict, and these need to be understood in relation to their specific contexts (Walton, 2010). It is difficult to capture all the choices and motivations behind these decisions, and with the limited time available for this review the findings are not exhaustive. Local context is also key to a discussion of actors and channels of communication trusted by youth in South Sudan. There is evidence that engagement with youth, as well as levels of trust by youth in various actors, varies in different communities. The most recent outbreak of violence, and continuing volatility on the ground, has, however, impacted on the availability of up-to-date information for several areas.

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Roz Price

Research Officer Institute of Development Studies.

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