The IGAD Regional Capacity Enhancement Initiative Concludes its Annual Review Workshops in Juba

Dec 9, 2016

CSSOs working in South Sudan’s public sector discuss the internal strengths and weaknesses, and the external opportunities and threats of their work placements during the IGAD Regional Initiative annual review workshop. This is known as a SWOT analysis, which is a popular model used to determine the obstacles that must be overcome as well as the factors that make it possible to accomplish objectives. Photo: UNDP/Elena Sosa Lerín

The Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Regional Initiative for Capacity Enhancement in South Sudan, commonly referred to as the “IGAD Regional Initiative” finalized yesterday a series of workshops aimed at reviewing the progress, strengths, opportunities, and challenges of mentoring South Sudanese civil servants, which responds to sections of the country’s Peace Agreement that emphasize the rehabilitation and reformation of South Sudan’s civil service.

Since 2011, through bilateral agreements, the IGAD regional countries of Ethiopia, Kenya, and Uganda have been seconding highly experienced and committed civil servant support officers – known as CSSOs – to South Sudan where they are paired with counterparts – known as “twins.” They are dispatched across a range of ministries and sectors throughout the country to rapidly develop core government capacity at the national and subnational levels in a coaching and mentoring scheme for a two-year period.

The government of Norway is the project’s sole donor and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) provides technical support to this initiative. South Sudan’s Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development plays a key role in directing the implementation of the project.

Participants in the review workshops, which took place throughout November and the first week of this month at the Dambesh Hotel in Juba, included the “twins,” the CSSOs, as well as their supervisors.

Each group had a dedicated workshop in which they had the opportunity to meet their peers from other regions of the country. They shared experiences, identified opportunities for improving the project’s processes, and discussed how challenges, such as insecurity or public financial volatility, impact their work.

02_Review_Workshop2016_IGAD-0421Twins working in the sector of social welfare, as child protection officers or gender specialists, present to their peers their SWOT analysis. This group highlighted as one of their strengths the CSSOs who are bolstering their skills in the areas of trauma counselling. Photo: UNDP/Elena Sosa Lerín

Therezine Filbert, Director General of the Human Resource Development Directorate from the Ministry of Labour, Public Service and Human Resource Development attended all opening sessions of each workshop. She commended everyone involved in the project for their commitment and efforts. Likewise, she candidly encouraged the “twins” to take advantage of their relationship with their mentors in order to continue learning and expanding their knowledge and she asked the CSSOs to transfer their skills in a sustainable manner.

“When you leave, we have to able to continue to do the work on our own,” she said.

Speaking on the impact of the IGAD Regional Initiative, she explained, “Our civil service was at the edge of total collapse after the liberation of South Sudan. But since 2011, we are noticing gradual changes in our civil service thanks to our development partners who have committed themselves to help us increase the capacity of our civil servants.”

Like Ms. Filbert, Andrew Shuruma, UNDP Team Leader for Democratic Governance and Stabilization Unit, also attended all opening sessions of each workshop. He explained other countries are carefully following this initiative as they intend to replicate it in future nation and state building as well as stabilization initiatives.

“The partnership between UNDP, the government of Norway, and the IGAD countries is very important,” he said. “This is a very unique experience in the history of UNDP globally as it’s the first time it’s being done.”

“The experiences of “twins,” CSSOs, and their supervisors are valuable to continue an effective implementation of the project,” added Mr. Shuruma. “We have a lot to learn from them. They’re having a tremendous impact.”

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.