Local actors contributing to grassroots’ stability are diverse, with a mix of individuals, CBOs, NGOs, loose networks, traditional structures, and government staff and institutions all contributing to the cause. However, the challenges for grassroots stabilization are great; some include civil society oppression, conflicts that regularly lead to high numbers of deaths, revenge cycles that perpetuate instability, cultural pressures that exacerbate violence, political manipulation that distorts people’s perspectives and rational thought, force (which is often the government’s primary tool for stability and security), and little genuine political movement towards a more inclusive and just system of governance.
But for every conflict dynamic, an example can be found which shows that counter strategies can work. Local peace committees regularly prevent local conflict escalating; cultural practices, such as the Hakemat, can perpetuate peace; increased knowledge of the manipulations of politicians is creating a community of free-thinkers; security forces and militia have been seen to support peace agreements where entire towns have rejected violence; and occasionally central government can cede political space when civic action reaches Khartoum.
Although, the anecdotes do exist, there is a lack of empirical evidence for local stabilizing approaches which limits confidence in the ability of local actors to have impact. Local actors can also be held back by the way the international community engages in Sudan. For example, often theories of change link civil society with political change, yet there is little adequate investment in civil society and unrealistic timeframes which leads to disappointment and a lack of confidence in the sector. Demands for financial accountability and reporting requirements by donors exclude many of the better organizations. Since investing large amount of money in civil society projects is seen as risky, the funding organizations receive lacks the flexibility to support smaller, more nimble programming
However, there is also much to be hopeful for – the number, diversity, and motivation of local actors is encouraging. A growing understanding and willingness to take risks amongst some donors means the potential for more appropriate support. A relatively small number of peace INGOs, and even glimmers of support from the government, mean that scaling up local efforts to promote grassroots stability is an appropriate investment