South Sudan’s civil conflicts, economic crisis and political fragmentation continue. Diaspora communities around the world – numbering in the hundreds of thousands – are engaged on a daily basis with this situation: via social media, remittances for family and funding of organisations, and through regular visits or work in the region. This engagement appears to financially and practically underpin the survival and organisation of many families, civil organisations, and armed groups.
The Rift Valley Institute’s Diaspora Impacts Project (DIP) aims to fill a vital knowledge gap on the networks and systems of this diaspora. It focuses on the Australian South Sudanese community, and the mechanisms through which they may influence South Sudan’s current civil war. The impact, credibility and use of this digital, financial, and practical engagement within South Sudan are very poorly understood. The project builds on a scoping study that was commissioned early in 2017 by the Australian Embassy to Ethiopia and South Sudan.
Working with the Universities of Juba and Monash, the research project is designed to provide grounded knowledge of the real impacts of Australia-based diaspora engagement within the country. It actively engages the Australian-South Sudanese community both in Juba and in Melbourne in research and reflection. The project is run through a network of South Sudanese researchers, graduate student bodies, highly experienced regional and diaspora researchers. The research is led by Nicki Kindersley (University of Cambridge); Rebecca Lorins (University of Juba) and Sara Maher (Monash University).
In early 2018, the RVI will disseminate findings of the research in a series of events and publications. The project aims to provide an evidentiary basis with direct implications for policy on emergency aid, conflict mitigation/de-escalation actions, mediation and peace-building planning, and transitional and post-war justice issues within both the diasporic and international communities.
The Rift Valley Institute (RVI: London, Nairobi & Juba) is a lead policy and advocacy agency in East Africa (http://riftvalley.net/). Lead researcher in Melbourne is Sara Maher (Monash University) with Dr Santino Atem Deng (Victoria University). Data collected in Juba will be considered by focus groups in Melbourne, and dissemination of the project’s findings will occur with the South Sudanese community and related non-government and government agencies.