First DDR caseload to reintegrate as civilians

6 September 2013 - In line with South Sudan’s efforts to reform its security sector, the first batch of candidates attending the pilot Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme at Mapel Transitional Facility in Western Bahr El-Ghazal are set to graduate on 16 September.  

Starting in May 2012, some 290 ex-combatants from the Greater Bahr El-Ghazal area received three months of vocational training in woodwork, masonry, construction, car mechanics, plumbing, agriculture, English literacy and numeracy as well as other practical skills to prepare them for transformation to civilian life.

UNMISS provided transport for staff and training material, while the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) supported the training programmes.

“The programme is significantly different from the DDR of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement period,” said DDR Commission Chairperson William Deng Deng at the start of the programme. “The policy has been completely re-written to reflect the reality in South Sudan as an independent nation.”

Giving an example, he said DDR candidates would continue to receive wages for a year, even as they underwent vocational training, and support in their communities after reintegration.

The ex-combatants are now participating in core business and financial skills training to help them turn their new vocational skills into viable businesses when they return to communities. The training will end on 13 September and it is expected that President Salva Kiir will preside over a graduation ceremony three days later.

The World Bank will oversee the reintegration process through implementing partners. Candidates will also receive tools for their chosen vocations at DDR state offices when they return to communities across Lakes, Western Bahr El-Ghazal, Northern Bahr El-Ghazal and Warrap states.

Sabit Adok Yuang, a disabled former Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) soldier from a cattle-keeping community in Yirol, Lakes State, was excited about skills they had gained and the prospect of returning to their communities to put these skills into practice.

“I learned about taking care of goats and chicken,” he said. “We have learned a lot.”

In addition to vocational skills, the candidates also learned about health care, with specific emphasis placed on malaria and HIV/AIDS.

“When you stay here for three months, you come out with a lot of knowledge and you reflect on your life with your family,” said Mr. Yuang. “… My disability (will not hinder) me… My dream is to open a pharmacy in my area, buy a few animal drugs and sell them to cattle owners.”

He recommended that future training include aspects of basic veterinary care and knowledge.

The National DDR Commission and its partner organizations will evaluate the pilot phase in coming weeks and use lessons learned to improve the programme. This will also help ensure the successful roll-out of other planned DDR training centres in Pariak, Jonglei State and Tirrangore, Eastern Equatoria State.