In support of the national Disarmament, Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR) programme, an integrated UN DDR Unit has been established, counting on resources from UNMIS, United Nations Development Programme, UNICEF, World Health Organisation and World Food Programme.
As a National UNV volunteer DDR Officer, Catherine Amaniyo is tasked to provide information to the ex-combatants and communities about the DDR programme and its different components and support to the Southern Sudan DDR Commission (SSDDRC).
Catherine started the sensitisation process with her own family. When she got married her family received weapons as part of the dowry. She was close to getting expelled from the community when attempting to explain the importance of disarmament for the peace process and insisting that her father hands over the weapons.
It took her months of negotiation: "It was a very difficult moment in my life, but I managed to convince my community of the necessity to disarm to be able to build peace. From this time, I have been given a man's name by my community, as they do not believe I am really a woman."
Born in Eastern Equatoria and stationed in Juba, the cultural and language proximity with the communities helps with getting the message across.
"When talking to communities, I try to encourage them to improve their own lives without expecting financial assistance in return: to gather to repair roads, plant trees and engage in collective action that will benefit the community."
One of the challenges that Catherine faces is coping with conservative perceptions regarding the role of women in a male dominated environment. "In a few instances, when military commanders realised that their UNMIS DDR counterpart was a woman, they simply cancelled the meeting." Her education and religious faith enable her to deal with these situations and continue with her commitment to building peace.
The DDR programme as a vital element the peace process is expected to contribute to the security and development in the Sudan by helping ex-combatants return to civilian life and reducing the size of the armed forces so that funds can be redirected to other public expenditures.