Kurmuk is one of the largest towns in the Blue Nile State of Sudan, and has greatly suffered from the Civil War. Control over the area changed hands many times in the course of the war, finally ending up in the hands of the rebel army of the Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLM). After the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), the area was deemed a 'liberated area' and was almost inaccessible for all excluding relief agencies. The town still suffers from the effects of the war as returnees join those who stayed during the fighting. Resources are meagre for all.
When the majority of the local community was displaced during the fighting, the Native Administration moved with their subjects, and a new administration took over. Following the CPA, the Native Administration returned with the refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs), but found itself in dispute with the new administration over jurisdiction. The government could not afford to pay remuneration for both administrations, meaning that ever since their return, the Native Administration continues to perform their traditional duties, but without pay. This has left them overburdened, as they have had to continue working for a living on top of their voluntary work as community administrators.
Their work would not have been a success had it not been for the support of the Peace Committees which have formed in Kurmuk, with a prominent representation of women. An example of how these Peace Committees and the Native Administrations came together is over a recent cases of violence against women (including rape) by discharged former combatants. Women in the Peace Committees pushed hard for convictions, convincing witnesses to testify and gaining the support of the community leaders. In this way, justice was able to be served for the victims of the violence.
In the photos in this article, you can see photos of meetings with the Peace Committees and Native Administrations.