Mulugeta Abebe, Deputy Country Director (Operations), Roundtable on Community Security in South Sudan, Juba

Jul 20, 2012

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-  Your Excellency the Ambassador of the European Union,

-  Your Excellency, the Ambassador of Japan

-  Your Excellency, the Ambassador of Norway,

-  Honourable Chuol Rambang Luoth, Chair South Sudan Peace & Reconciliation Commission,

-  Dr. Riak Gok, Acting Head of the Bureau for Community Security & Arms Control,

-  Honourable State Ministers and Members of the Government,

-  Representatives of the international development community,

-  All protocols observed.

It is my pleasure and honour to be addressing you today as Deputy Country Director for the United Nations Development Programme South Sudan. 

With the historic independence of the new Republic of South Sudan one year ago, the Government made significant strides in creating a more peaceful society.  However, sustaining this peace and promoting community security so that people no longer have to live in fear is a major challenge facing the new nation.

UNDP is proud to have worked alongside the new Government of South Sudan and the people of Eastern Equatoria, Lakes, Unity, Upper Nile and Warrap states in building the foundations for peaceful and secure communities.  By providing payams and bomas with the tools and resources they need to prevent conflict, citizens can then begin to invest in their communities, cultivate their local economies, send their children to school and realize the benefits of peace.

In 2010/2011, the South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission, CSAC Bureau and state governments led the process of consulting communities on ways they can address local conflicts and promote peace in the five states. UNDP provided technical support to this process. We visited all of the counties to understand the needs of individual communities.  These consultations brought together village elders, traditional authorities, youth leaders, women leaders, religious leaders, local government, state ministers, and community members to discuss and find local solutions to their security issues. 

Based on the outcomes of these consultations, communities identified their priorities needed to reduce conflict in their communities.  This knowledge has informed the implementation of the conflict sensitive projects at the sub county levels by CSAC project and state level stabilization programmes by the South Sudan Recovery Fund.  With support from UNDP and the international community, the Government was able to build boreholes, water haffirs, roads, police posts, police stations, agriculture equipment and needed infrastructure that were specific to individual community needs and are helping reduce violence and ultimately insecurity.

In a short period of time we have already seen results, for example at a handover ceremony in Hakuma Mafi, Eastern Equatoria, the Village Chief acknowledged the impact that a police post built following the outputs of a consultation, by explaining that no one had died since it had been built.  

However, this approach has three significant impacts that extend beyond simply building a road or a water haffir:

  • One, it empowers people to voice their concerns about security.  Communities welcomed these consultations; many stating that it was the first time Government reached out to them and consulted them about their problems.  At the same time this process can serve as a mechanism for the communities to collectively decide how to address insecurity in their payams and bomas.  
  • Two, it extends the state’s authority by giving Government the information to deliver services that meet the needs of the people; and
  • Three, it provides a platform for negotiation between Government and communities, thereby improving accountability, building trust and foster a social contract between the people and their Government.

Today, we are presenting the findings from this innovative approach and I would like to encourage all of our partners to use these findings and information when planning their development and community security initiatives.  This valuable knowledge should not just reside in UNDP; instead it should be shared to enable all of us to work together in building a secure and peaceful South Sudan.  We at UNDP are proud of this work and are committed to continuing these community security efforts. 

In closing I would like to congratulate and acknowledge the hard work of the CSAC Bureau, the Peace Commission, the state Governments, the Ministries of Local Government as well as all of our partners for their support in this process and the resulting projects.  And finally, to all members of the community, I hope this will contribute a significant step towards security, prosperity and peace in your community.

Thank you very much.

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