Solar Systems Improve Services for Aweil Citizens

Feb 24, 2017

Solar panels. Photo: ©UNDP/Julie Pudlowski

Current economic challenges facing South Sudan have had a particularly profound effect in Aweil, located in north western South Sudan, near the international border with the Republic of Sudan. Due to its location and nationwide supply issues, fuel remains very expensive and difficult to get in Aweil. With limited resources to power its generators, the local government encountered extreme issues recently with performing its duties as expected due to lack of electricity in its offices.

“We finally managed to have a printer and some computers for the office personnel to work, but getting fuel for the generator has been always a problem....Some days we couldn’t work because we didn’t have electricity,” said Aweil Governor Hon. Ronald Ruay Deng. “When we could not use the printer, nor the computer, because we did not even have light and we could not use the fans to address the extremely hot temperatures, most of the office staff were just sitting, doing nothing and waiting for the time to go home.”

A key component of UNDP’s work in South Sudan involves supporting state and local governments to strengthen their capacity to efficiently provide services to their citizens. The South Sudan National Human Development Report (2015) states, “Resilient communities need to own the policies designed to promote their well-being, participate in decision-making and oversee implementation of local initiatives.” The report also found limited access to quality basic services is a key driver for low indicators of human development in Aweil state.

In support of optimizing and enhancing the government delivery mechanisms to better serve the citizens of Aweil, UNDP installed solar systems in the offices of the State Governor and State Ministry of Finance and Public Service.

“I had to come several days before I could get my documents ready because the fuel was always an issue. I was coming here and there was no power, so I had to come another day. Other times I had to wait for hours until they were able to print my documents, but now everything has changed. All the processes are faster, I don’t lose as much time here, I arrive and in about 15 minutes my papers are ready and I can keep going with my life,” explained one of the clients of the Governor’s office.

IMG_4285The new solar system batteries installed at the Aweil State Governor’s office. Photo: ©UNDP

As part of the Interim Cooperation Framework of the UN Country Team, UNDP is supporting initiatives that improve social services for the most vulnerable and address causes of lack of delivery and use of services.

Effective governance based on the rule of law is an important catalyst for sustainable development, as espoused by SDG 16 for peace, justice and strong institutions.  Predictable delivery of basic services builds public trust and confidence in government and can help solidify peace dividends by providing stability. While Northern Bahr el Ghazal continues to be one of the more peaceful regions in South Sudan, infrastructure has been destroyed by decades of war and resource-scarce structures remain in most counties and payams.

“Now, thanks to UNDP’s support staff are using the computers and they can print official documents so that they are quicker in serving the citizens who come to our office to solve their issues,” said Hon. Deng.

Generating more self-sustaining, nationally owned, resilient processes for early post-crisis recovery can give way to the conditions necessary to achieve progress on the Sustainable Development Goals in South Sudan.

In tandem with the provision of solar system technology to the Governor and State Ministry of Finance and Public Services, UNDP is continuing support to local governance capacity in Aweil through a series of additional targeted initiatives, supported by the Government of Japan. This work includes tax revenue policy, harmonisation and management support, local training programmes on good governance, accountability and oversight responsibility for state legislative assembly members, and support to increased local-level participatory governance.