Creating Co-operative Societies for Development in Torit
"I learned from my twin [civil servant from an IGAD country] how to create a cooperative society and now I am teaching others how to develop theirs. I help them to be self-sufficient and self-sustainable. They all contribute with their own money and with their own harvest. Every person feels responsible for their own contribution."
Kilara Nasser Tanya is the Deputy Director for Field Management in Torit State Ministry of Agriculture. He works within the Directorate of Community and Rural Development and thanks to the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Regional Initiative for Capacity Enhancement in South Sudan, commonly referred to as the “IGAD Regional Initiative,” he receives support from Francis Kisia, a civil servant from Kenya.
Through bilateral agreements, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda send highly experienced and committed civil servant support officers (CSSOs) to South Sudan where they are paired with counterparts – known as “twins” – across a range of ministries and sectors to rapidly develop core government capacity at national and subnational levels in a coaching and mentoring scheme. Since 2011, more than three hundred CSSOs have come to South Sudan to strengthen the skills and knowledge of the country’s civil service in sectors like agriculture, aviation, finance, and public health.
“I am a Muslim so every morning I wake up at 5am to pray. If there is some food at home I prepare breakfast while my wife prepares our six children for school,” said Kilara, adding with visible emotion, “I have four sons but I am also taking care of two orphans that now are part of the family and I love them as my own children.”
“If there is fuel I take my motorbike to go to the office, if not, I just go walking. When I arrive Francis is already there organizing the plan for the day,” continued Kilara. “There are only three of us in the office. There used to be more, but with more states created now people went to different places.”
Torit County is located in southern South Sudan, close to the border with Uganda. The town of Torit, lies approxi mately 150 kilometres by road, east of Juba, the capital and largest city in South Sudan. In April 2016, the state was divided into three counties with two new counties called Torit East and Torit West created.
“My job is to know what the community needs and link their interests with the government plan. I go to visit the traditional leaders and ask them what their challenges are, what they think would be helpful for their people. I teach them how to organize and get the maximum benefits from their own resources, transferring skills and tools to improve their life,” explained Kilara.
The community in Torit is mostly pastoral and rely on agriculture. Its inhabitants depend on seasonal rain and access to grazing land. These seasonal changes cause cattle migration and thus, increased conflict patterns. Cultural practices are traditional and male-dominant. There has been limited development of infrastructure and schools. Government security forces are still lacking in terms of human resources, training and equipment.
“We sit together and they [the chiefs] come with their own priorities. They used to explain to me that they couldn’t cultivate this year because they didn’t have seeds or tools. Depend on the counties the needs are different,” said Kisara. “In Magwi County, agriculture is the main activity so they demand seeds and tools; in IKotos, people are engaged in livestock rearing, so they tell me about problems they have with the animals, like diseases.”
“Because of the conflict there are some communities that we cannot reach, nobody is going to these communities that are far from the town,” confessed Kilara.
There is little cattle raiding in Amarok and Ifwotu where communities are mostly agriculturalists. The cattle migration causes violence and revenge killings within the same community, driving groups to take law in their own hands.
“Francis proposed we train communities in rural development. I cultivate bananas, I am a good farmer myself and I am in contact with other farmers, so we brought together a group of people with common interests and ideas to solve the problem of the lack of incomes. We agreed on a project to generate income, a cooperative society,” explained Kilara. “When you do not have anything to feed your family, you need to start thinking of other ways to get incomes.”
A cooperative society is an agricultural-producer-owned coops whose primary purpose is increase member producers’ production and incomes by helping better link with finance, agricultural inputs, information, and output markets.
Kisara is now member of a cooperative society which provide credit to him and to the rest of the farmers’ members, the most needed thing in the farming communities. They also have access to top quality fertilizers, seeds, insecticides, pesticides and more, at reasonable prices.
“With the cooperative we are independent and we can share our products with the broader community. We are accountable, the fee that we pay depends on each person’s income and membership,” said Kilara.
“The main challenge now is to transport the products to the market in other towns because of the ambushes along the road. There are a lot of criminals outside the town and also the roads are not good, but Francis is helping us to create a plan to overcome this challenge,” he concluded.
By implementing the IGAD Regional Initiative with support from the government of Norway, the project’s sole donor, The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) is strengthening the capacity of South Sudanese civil servants to improve service delivery in South Sudan, which is an integral part of South Sudan’s peace agreement.