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Mapping environmental conflicts and cooperation

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Conflict between Jikany Nuer and Lou Nuer in South Sudan

Type of conflict sub
Intensity 4
Region
Southern Africa
Time 1993 ‐ ongoing
Countries S. Sudan, Ethiopia
Resources Fish, Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water
Conflict Summary Conflict between the Jikany and Lou sections of the Nuer revolves around land and access to water for their cattle. Uneven disarmament by the government has...
Conflict between Jikany Nuer and Lou Nuer in South Sudan
Conflict between the Jikany and Lou sections of the Nuer revolves around land and access to water for their cattle. Uneven disarmament by the government has further deteriorated the relations between the two communities.
Conceptual Model

Climate Change

The Jikany Nuer and Lou Nuer in South Sudan peacefully co-existed until the early 1990s. However, tensions between both groups over natural resource competition ensued due to several factors. For one, the influx of refugees from the Sudanese Civil War as well as from Ethiopia into Jikany territory placed increased pressure on available land.

Intermediary Mechanisms

Increasing population pressure and droughts forced Lou pastoralists to move into Jikany territory in search for water access, thereby provoking intercommunal tensions.

Fragility and Conflict Risks

In 1993, armed conflict over access to fishing grounds, grazing areas and water broke out between the Jikany Nuer and Lou Nuer. By 1994, 1,300 people had been killed during clashes between the two communities.

Climate ChangeEnvironmental ChangeIntermediary MechanismsFragility and Conflict RisksSocial and Economic DriversExtreme weather event is consistent with predictions regarding more frequent and/or intense extreme weather events.In-migration leads to demographic change.Demographic changes increase pressures on natural resources.Extreme weather event leads to scarcity of essential natural resources.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources reduces available resources and ecosystem services.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources induces migration.Problems related to migration/displacements lead to growing discontent with the state.Reduced availability of/access to natural resources provokes discontent with the state.An increase in the frequency and/or intensity of extreme weather events, such as floods or droughts.More Frequent / Intense Extreme Weather EventsA specific extreme weather event such as a flood or a storm.Extreme Weather EventVoluntary or involuntary movement of people from one area to another.Migration patternsChange in population density, age structure, or ethnic makeup.Demographic ChangeGrowing scarcity of essential natural resources.Natural Resource ScarcityReduced availability of essential natural resources, such as land and water.Change in Access / Availability of Natural Resources(In)voluntary long and short-term movements of people within or across state boundaries.Displacements / MigrationChallenge to the state's legitimacy, ranging from peaceful protest to violent attempts at overthrowing the government.Anti-State Grievances
Context Factors
  • Water-stressed Area
  • History of Conflict
  • Low Level of Economic Development
  • Power Differential
Conflict History

In 1993, armed conflict over access to fishing grounds, grazing areas and water broke out between the Jikany and Lou sections of the Nuer. By 1994, 1,300 people had been killed and 75,000 cattle been stolen during clashes between the two communities. The engagement of various tribesmen in paramilitary groups supplied both communities with heavy weaponry, which caused clashes to be of intense violence (Bradbury et al., 2006; UCDP, 2015).

Due to inter-tribal marriages, the Jikany Nuer and Lou Nuer co-existed in a good manner until the early 1990s (UCDP, 2015). Tensions between the two communities came about when a combination of droughts in 1992 and 1993 and an increase in population and livestock numbers forced Lou pastoralists, who are geographically disadvantaged in regard to water resources, to move into Jikany territory. Refugees from the Sudanese Civil War as well as from Ethiopia, fleeing into Jikany territory further increased competition over natural resources and food supply, thereby exacerbating intercommunal tensions, which ultimately led to the outbreak of violence (Bradbury et al., 2006; Schomerus & Allen, 2010; UCDP, 2015).

In 1991, the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA), the main South Sudanese rebel group fighting the government of Sudan in the Sudanese Civil War from 1983 to 2005, split. This led to insecurities and empowered various warlords in the region, which added to the level of violence. Furthermore, fighting between the two factions of the SPLA caused the Lou Nuer to be unable to access certain grazing areas and fishing grounds (Johnson, 2003; Schomerus & Allen, 2010).

An additional factor contributing to Jikany - Lou Nuer tensions was uneven disarmament by the South Sudanese government after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in 2005, between the Government of Sudan and the SPLA. Both communities were disarmed to a larger extent than the Murle community, which competes with them over natural resources. This has forced the Jikany Nuer and Lou Nuer to move into safer territory, where the risk of attacks by the Murle is less high. Being confined into small areas, tensions between the two groups over access to resources easily escalate into violence (UCDP, 2015).

After a peace conference in 2006 could reduce violence between the two communities, tensions escalated again in 2009, due to a variety of factors such as the displacement of Jikany during the civil war, as well as cattle thefts and abductions. Revenge attacks by both communities led to more than 190 fatalities and the destruction of a UN World Food Program convoy by the Jikany Nuer (Small Arms Survey, 2010).

Resolution Efforts

In 1994, an inter-Nuer reconciliation conference was set up by Nuer intellectuals with the help of several Christian churches and through mediation efforts by Riek Machar, at the time leader of the Nasir faction of the SPLA. The conference set out the conditions under which the communities would agree to stop fighting and resulted in a compromise that everyone was willing to accept. Yet, it failed to establish the measures necessary to enforce this agreement.

No armed forces were appointed to keep the peace and leaders from both sides could not be convinced that there would not be retaliatory attacks by the other community. Thus fighting between the two groups broke out again not long after the peace conference (Johnson, 2003).

In July 2006 another peace conference was held in Addis Ababa (Ethiopia), attended by representatives of the South Sudanese and Ethiopian government, as well as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA). It was agreed upon that a disarmament process was necessary to stop attacks by the communities’ youth; and that the peace agreement should be used as an opportunity to strengthen the economy of both tribes, which had been seriously damaged during the fighting (Sudan Tribune, 2006). Since then, small scale clashes between members of both groups have occurred primarily over cattle theft, but the number of fatalities has been considerably lower than in earlier years.

Intensities & Influences
conflict intensity scale
Intensities
International / Geopolitical Intensity
Human Suffering

Influences
Environmental Influences
Societal Influences

Fatalities
1 100
Violent Conflict Yes
Salience within nation
Mass Displacement Less than 100.000 and less than 10% of the country's population are displaced within the country.
Cross Border Mass Displacement Less than 100.000 and less than 10% of the population are displaced across borders.
Destination Countries Ethiopia
Resources
Fish, Agricultural / Pastoral Land, Water
Resolution Success
Reduction in Violence Violence reduced significantly, but did not cede.
Resolve of displacement problems Displacement continues to cause discontent and/or other problems.
Reduction in geographical scope There has been no reduction in geographical scope.
Increased capacity to address grievance in the future There is no increased capacity to address grievances in the future.
Grievance Resolution Grievances have been mostly addressed.
Causal Attribution of Decrease in Conflict Intensity Decrease in conflict intensity at least partially the result of conflict resolution strategies.
General opencollapse
Country Data in Comparison
ConflictNoData Created with Sketch.
Fault Lines Defining Conflict Parties
Purely Environmental | Cultural   ♦   Occupational   ♦   Economic   ♦   Urban / Rural   ♦   National / International conflict   ♦   Sub-national political


Actors
Participation Conflict Party     Conflict Resolution Facilitator
Jikany Nuer
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Lou Nuer
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA)
Functional GroupNon-State Violent Actor
Geographical ScaleInternal National
Government of South Sudan
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleInternal National
United Nations
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Government of Ethiopia
Functional GroupPublic
Geographical ScaleExternal
Catholic churches
Functional GroupCivil Society
Geographical ScaleInternal Grassroots
Entry Points for Resilience and Peace Building
3 Dialogue A peace conference was held in July 2006, with the participation of representatives from the South Sudanese and Ethiopian government, as well as the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UN OCHA). Since then the number of fatalities have considerably lowered.
Further Details opencollapse
Conflict Characterization
Character of the contested good Public good: No one can be excluded from use and the good is not depleted.
Structure of decision-making power / interdependence Symmetric: All parties can affect the environmental resource equally.
Broad conflict characterization Resource capture is not present.
Ecological marginalization is not present.
Data of involved Countries
Resources and Materials opencollapse
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