RVI has worked in Sudan and South Sudan (‘the Sudans’) continuously since 2001. Southern Sudan was the location of RVI’s first project – an eighteen-month investigation of abduction and enslavement in South Sudan during the civil war – and Juba, where the Institute maintains an office, remains an important hub for our work.
At present, the Institute is involved in the following major projects in the Sudans:
- South Sudan Women’s Research Network, supported by the European Union, which promotes local women’s voices in research development and heritage preservation through mentorship, training and grants.
- Research on the Sudan – South Sudan border under the XCEPT (Cross-Border Conflict Evidence, Policy and Trends) programme. This builds on a body of work in South Sudan and Sudan already produced by the project.
- A new phase of work in the South Sudan National Archives (SSNA) funded by the Norwegian government – building on more than a decade of work with the SSNA focused on the preservation and digitization of the archive collection.
- A research project on the lessons from Sudan’s Juba Peace Agreement, supported by the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) was recently concluded.
In recent years, RVI has carried out research with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) on programming related to seeds provision and pastoralism in South Sudan; the Swiss government on a project focused on the continued importance of customary authorities in the country; and with the British Council in Khartoum on the history of elections in Sudan. Other notable projects in the Sudans over the last two decades include field-based analysis of local peace processes in north and south; studies of electoral processes and local justice; and two major studies of the north-south border zone, ‘When Boundaries Become Borders’ (2010) and ‘The Kafia Kingi Enclave’ (2010).
Beginning in 2004, the Institute has held an annual, residential course dedicated to the Sudans, first in Rumbek, in Lakes State, subsequently in Jinja, Uganda, and latterly in Naivasha, Kenya. The Sudan Handbook published in 2011, is a byproduct of the Sudans course. In 2004, the RVI launched the Sudan Open Archive, which offers free digital access to knowledge about all regions of Sudan and South Sudan. The RVI collaborates with a range of organisations in the Sudans, including the Sudd Institute, the Gurtong Trust, the South Sudan Law Society, the University of Juba and the Catholic University of South Sudan.