South Sudan

Rapid change and standstill: Peacemaking, Covid-19 and rumours in South Sudan

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Information and rumours have a powerful effect on people's lives. They shape how people experience their environments and view their position in life, and give meaning to the forces that seem to determine this position. Information is often assumed to be a major driver of decision-making, regardless of whether the information is rumour or verified fact. And yet, how information affects people's lives is often not well examined or established. What is even less explored is how exactly information contributes to the 'mental landscape' -- the multiple layers of perceptions, sense- making, decision-making, biases and the sense of self this creates for a person. It is through this 'landscape' that a person travels in their own life (Amanela et al., 2020a).

After following eight people over an extended time period, this paper provides a micro-view of why information is less influential on behaviour in cases where options for different types of behaviour are severely limited. The information the respondents received over the course of six months shaped their decisions towards inactivity, born out of lack of options, resignation, or deep exhaustion from having to deal with a never-ceasing threat to their life and livelihood.