19 February 2019, Juba—UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa Onochie and UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director, UNDP Crisis Bureau Ms. Asako Okai conducted a high-level joint visit to Yambio, Gbudue State. They were joined by the Kingdom of the Netherlands Director-General for International Cooperation H.E. Reina Buijs, and high-level delegations from the Embassy of Japan, Embassy of the Netherlands and Embassy of Sweden. The Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary-General/Resident Coordinator/Humanitarian Coordinator Mr. Alain Noudéhou and UNDP South Sudan Resident Representative Dr. Kamil Kamaluddeen further comprised the delegation.
“Gbudue is a peaceful state, and its citizens are mediators of peace who come up with homegrown solutions to their own problems. Now that peace is here in South Sudan, we need to create jobs, especially for the youth. We need to empower the younger generation, and we need to empower the women, and include these groups in decision-making. Internally displaced people want to go back to their homes. Food security is a main issue to enable their return, but the soil in Yambio is fertile and the natural resources are there. What we need to make people feel safe to return is…above all, empowerment,” said Governor of Gbudue State Hon. Daniel Badagbu.
The purpose of the mission was to interact with local partners and beneficiaries of UNDP’s multi-dimensional support to recovery and resilience in Gbudue State. This includes women entrepreneurs of Masia Market, supported by the Government of Japan; peace committees and re-integrated youth benefitting from economic empowerment projects to boost re-integration and community cohesion, supported by the Government of Sweden; and the newly launched youth employment and empowerment initiative, which hosted Yambio’s first-ever large-scale job fair with the support from the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
UNLEASHING WOMEN’S ECONOMIC EMPOWERMENT AT YAMBIO’S MASIA MARKET
The development of markets support economic opportunities for women and play a vital role in the agricultural value chain, helping reduce food insecurity and poverty. With this in mind, rehabilitation of Masia Market funded by the Government of Japan and UNDP in 2018, benefitted 88 businesswomen who previously lacked proper, hygienic sheds and stalls for selling vegetables and other farm produce. The vendors were trained on business management and development skills, in collaboration with UN Women and local implementing partners.
“I encourage the women of this market to see this as a place of community. Use this market not only for trade but also for community-building and raising awareness on issues that stop women from enjoying development, such as early marriage, and teenage pregnancy,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director, UNDP Regional Bureau for Africa Ms. Ahunna Eziakonwa Onochie during interactions at the market.
A foundation stone for a new borehole, made possible through continued support by the Government of Japan, was laid during the mission. As a reliable water source, the borehole will improve on personal hygiene and handling of agricultural products in the market.
“The Government of Japan remains committed to providing support to South Sudan, especially through UNDP. We are happy to see the laying of foundation stone for the borehole, and are looking forward to visiting Masia Market again to see smiles in people’s faces when it is completed,” said Mr. Mitsuhiro Toyama, Deputy Chief of Mission of the Embassy of Japan in South Sudan.
FOSTERING COMMUNITY COHESION THROUGH PEACE COMMITTEES AND RE-INTEGRATION
The delegation participated in a sit-in discussion with representatives of peace committees from both Yambio and Nzara counties, to understand the inner workings of the committees, how they resolve conflicts, and the tools they use to advocate for peace in their communities. The activity served as a showcase of UNDP’s Peace and Community Cohesion Project (PaCC) and the interventions it started in January 2017, with support from the Government of Sweden. In continuation of this support, UNDP South Sudan and the Embassy of Sweden signed an agreement while visiting the Masia community.
“Today I have seen the talent of the people of Yambio, and heard their powerful testimonies that now need to be turned into peaceful co-existence. What Yambio has achieved, with strong leadership and local ownership, must be shared with other communities. Sweden believes in this community, and that is why we today have signed an agreement with UNDP of additional financing of SEK 15 million for the Peace and Community Cohesion project,” said Ambassador of Sweden to South Sudan H.E. Hans Henric Lundqvist at the ceremony.
With a special focus on youth, UNDP piloted its 3x6 reintegration approach in Gbudue State, in order to provide alternatives to violence, rebuild diminished trust between local communities, and empower community decision-making for resilience. The project has worked with 200 youth (80 former combatant males, 20 unemployed youth and 100 females) who have trained in peacebuilding, as well as practical skills in tailoring, carpentry, farming, animal husbandry, and more market-aligned vocations.
HARNESSING SOUTH SUDAN’S YOUTH DIVIDEND TOWARDS PRODUCTIVE LIVELIHOODS AND ENTREPRENEURIAL SUCCESS
During the implementation period of the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), providing decent employment opportunities to young people and tapping their potential is crucial in achieving recovery, sustainable peace and development in the state.
UNDP is seeking to address this criticality with the launch of the Netherlands-supported Youth Employment and Empowerment Through Private Sector and Value Chain Development Project. The project aims to empower youth in five targeted locations of Bor, Jubek, Rumbek, Torit and Yambio by nurturing their entrepreneurial and market-linked skills and enhancing their employability and productive engagement in economic activities.
“Women and youth in South Sudan are the agents for transformation and peace. You will always have our support at UNDP when it comes to using entrepreneurship as a means to overcome your struggles, consolidate peace dividends and to contribute to the development of South Sudan,” said UN Assistant Secretary-General and Director, UNDP Crisis Bureau Ms. Asako Okai at the ceremony.
The delegation visited the two-day Yambio Job Fair, the first of its kind event in the region with a target of fielding applications to job vacancies, as well as reaching 800 people with information about local opportunities, trainings and career-building skills on employment search and entrepreneurship.
“The Netherlands is proud to support the work taking place here on the ground in Yambio, and we are particularly impressed by the resilience of the young people of this state. I will be able to convey a message of hope upon my return,” said the Netherlands Director-General for International Cooperation H.E. Reina Buijs.
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