James Bevan
Weapon specialist and conflict analyst
James Bevan
The Toposa, South Sudan 2007-2008

In 2007-2008, the Toposa were a loose confederation of pastoralist communities at war with the Kenyan Turkana, elements of the Ugandan Karimojong and the Sudanese Didinga.

South Sudan is one of the most difficult regions in sub-Saharan Africa to research, due to the logistical difficulties of travel and the security situation, which is at best tense and at worst extremely violent.

I had already lived and worked among the Toposa tracing weapons and ammunition when I was asked to participate in a large, Canadian Government-sponsored armed violence mapping project in the Eastern Equatoria region of South Sudan.

This study, which was published by the Small Arms Survey's Sudan Human Security Baseline Assessment Project, was one of the first to focus on Eastern Equatoria, which was often neglected in research on armed conflict in South Sudan.

My findings related to the distribution of weapons and ammunition among the Turkana can be found in the regional study 'Blowback: Kenya's ammunition problem in Turkana North.'

My past research on ammunition proliferation in Kenya and Uganda, and my more recent work with the Toposa, prompted me to develop a field manual to assist other researchers in tracing ammunition. Developed through the Small Arms Survey, the 'Ammunition Tracing Kit' is a practical, field-based guide to recording ammunition.

A number of organizations, including UN sanctions inspectors, peacekeeping forces, national police services and non-governmental organizations currently use the Ammunition Tracing Kit in their investigations.

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James Bevan