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Research topic: Understanding the power of the ‘local’ in manoeuvring between humanitarian and peacebuilding paradigms- the case study of South Sudan
*Abstract: *Over the past decade, there have been a number of events and movements in international aid that have acknowledged and purportedly opened up space for local actors to play greater roles in aid initiatives specifically in regard to humanitarian and peacebuilding interventions. While at the same time, there are power dynamics that hinder any sort of widespread change within the international aid system where local actors are more than obligatory requirements, but valued partners. At the same time, there are two contradictory trends. On the one hand, some see peacebuilding and humanitarianism both as necessary, but separate components of international aid, one focused on long term and the other on short term change respectively. On the other hand, some experts argue that one should be included in the other – there are supporters for humanitarianism including peacebuilding and peacebuilding including humanitarianism. These discussions and debates are primarily led by western actors. What is often overlooked in contexts where multiple aid actors are implementing programming from humanitarian to peacebuilding to development is understanding the incentives of why local actors engage, how they engage and their everyday power to shape policy outcomes and manoeuvre between western framed paradigms specifically in humanitarian and peacebuilding arenas.
This research proposes to do just that to understand the incentives of local actors in the context of South Sudan where multiple actors and interventions are underway from disaster relief in camps to peacebuilding in communities. These activities are often happening side by side and local actors might be engaged in many of them at the same time, they in fact, might be able to influence change in multiple aid spaces in ways that have been overlooked in the past.