STATEMENT DELIVERED BY EUGENE OWUSU, DEPUTY SPECIAL REPRESENTATIVE OF THE SECRETARY GENERAL, UN RESIDENT AND HUMANITARIAN COORDINATOR, AND UNDP RESIDENT REPRESENTATIVE AT THE LAUNCH OF THE SOUTH SUDAN NATIONAL HUMAN DEVELOPMENT REPORT, FEBRUARY 24 2016

Feb 24, 2016

 H.E James Wani Igga, Vice President of the Republic of South Sudan

Hon. Members of the Cabinet

Hon. Members of the Legislative Assembly

Excellencies, Heads of Diplomatic Missions

My Colleagues, Heads of United Nations Agencies

Distinguished Guest,


It is my pleasure to welcome you to the launch of the first ever South Sudan National Human Development Report, which has the theme, “People Peace and Prosperity.”

Being the first ever national human development report, this is truly a landmark occasion for UNDP and the Government and people of South Sudan.

H.E President Salva Kiir, I wish to thank you profoundly for taking time off pressing matters of state to join us today. Excellency, we are honoured to have you with us on this important occasion.

I would also like to use this opportunity to thank my good friend and brother Dr. Aggrey Tisa Sabuni for accepting to chair the Advisory Committee that provided strategic guidance and technical leadership for the drafting of this report. And I wish to thank all the experts for their valuable contribution that led to the production of this high quality report. Allow me also to express my profound appreciation to the distinguished panelists who will animate the interactive dialogue for us later today.

Excellencies,

The primary objective of National Human Development Reports such as the one we are launching today is to stimulate discussions with policy makers and practitioners. The independent analysis in this NHDR has been produced through a consultative process including the government, private sector, civil society and other stakeholders. It is our expectation that the report will be central in shaping transformative conversation, transformative partnerships and transformative actions.

The theme of this Report, which we have the honour to have HE the Vice President launch for us shortly is a strong call for a peaceful South Sudan in which all citizens live together as brothers and sisters, and as true compatriots. The theme of the report also reflects a recognition that the transformation of this country demands investment in people and in communities.  We need not only ensure that we have a Government of National Unity; we also need to ensure that the boys and girls, women and children in Ezo, Wau, Pochalla, Melut, Yei, Kapoeta, Tonj and Aweil believe in simple dreams, at the centre of which is having the opportunity to live a life of dignity.

Excellencies, Distinguished guests

For more than 50 years, the good people of this country have endured a brutal conflict that only few would.  Almost five years ago, against all odds, the people of this country triumphed over marginalisation. Two years ago, the optimism of independence and the hope for a better future suffered because of conflict.

Today the economy of South Sudan is in serious crisis. The society is polarised and the delivery of public services is a serious challenge.

Despite these challenges, I have no doubt in the indomitable spirit of this country and its people. If there is one thing that I have learnt from the history of this country and its people, don’t count them out. South Sudan will bounce back.

I believe in this conviction and in the future of this country. It is this belief that comforts me and it is this belief that animates and shapes the work of UNDP in this country.

But to give meaning to my optimism, the current reality that South Sudan finds itself in demands bold, innovative, aggressive and selfless actions on both the political and economic fronts. To overcome the challenges of today, South Sudan needs to step up and single-mindedly pursue the necessary policy, political and structural reforms to underpin prospects for durable peace and to place the economy and the country as a whole on a sustainable development pathway.

South Sudan can turn things around. South Sudan can turn its fortunes around. The opportunities are plenty. The tenacity of South Sudanese is an asset. South Sudan has the late comer’s advantage of learning from and avoiding the mistakes of countries in similar conditions.  Furthermore, this country is endowed with abundant fertile agricultural land, untapped water, forestry, natural resources and the blessings of a predominantly youthful population.

Excellencies, Distinguished Guests

As I welcome you all to this historic event, and looking at South Sudan today through the lens of the theme of this Report – People, Peace and Prosperity – this NHDR comes up with a number of interesting observations and recommendations. Let me highlight Six of them:

·         First: South Sudan can secure the future it wants. The situation South Sudan finds itself in today is a combination of human actions that can be corrected if South Sudanese genuinely “give peace a chance.” With the right mix of policies, and a sense of purposefulness and determination similar to what got this country its independence, South Sudan can extricate itself out of the challenges that confront it today.

·         Second: Violence and conflict in South Sudan is the failure of development to reconcile and manage political differences and grievances. The Report concludes conflict is development in reverse. is The greatest drain on human development in South Sudan is the absence of peace, and this is not just in states of Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity; there are huge human development losses emanating from the large numbers of intercommunal violence spread across many parts of the country.

·         Third: We cannot have prosperity without peace and we certainly cannot have peace without people.   Since peace must be the connecting rod between people and prosperity, allow me to share a few personal thoughts on peace.

The peace that the good people of South Sudan seek go beyond the cessation of hostilities; and indeed it goes beyond the Transitional Government of National Unity. The peace that the people of South Sudan want and need, includes the freedom to live a life of dignity, the freedom from fear, the freedom from want, and the right to pursue happiness.

The peace that the good people of South Sudan need and want is the peace that ensures that  a young girl growing up in Raja, Budi or Akobo will secure her desire of going to school, have a decent chance at life and never waiver in her strong believe that if she can, she will.

·         Fourth: The challenging economic situation could be the biggest spoiler of the peace process. The peace process is more than transitional security arrangement. Looking at South Sudan through the lens of people centered peace and development, the report finds that 75% of South Sudanese feels that to improve human development, government should stabilize the economic situation; 56% feel that government should invest in ensuring community level security; 50% thinks government should increase access to justice and rule of law and; 47.0% believe government should invest to ensure a greater sense of common nationhood.

·         Fifth: If properly managed, oil can be a blessing to South Sudan. The report also finds that outside the oil sector, livelihoods are currently concentrated in low productive - less efficient – unpaid agriculture and pastoralist work.

·         Sixth: Short term political goals might have long term negative effect on development. The report argues for the need for South Sudan to collectively practice the “art of the long view”, which translates into the ability to link the immediate to the long term, to visualize different kinds of futures than the current trajectories of low growth and social conflict.

Excellencies, Distinguished Guest

As UNDP Resident Representative, I am particularly pleased to note that this report is not a collection of policy prescriptions from UNDP on what needs to be done, how it needs to be done and by whom. As far as we are concerned, policy making process is a sovereign right and we are prepared to support national ownership of the policy process.

And for UNDP, this Report is not about elaborating and cataloguing evidence that should be used to criticise government and establish conditionalities for partnerships. The Report is not about apportioning blame. Rather we see the Report as a tool and a guide for joined-up action and mutual accountability for results, of course based on differentiated responsibilities.

As I have indicated on many occasions, the Government and people of South Sudan will never walk alone. We stand ready to work with you as well as other development partners to build resilient communities, reinvigorate local economies and; support institution building and capacity development.

In this regard:

·         We will continue to strengthen the absorptive, adaptive and transformative capacities of communities confronted with shocks and stresses.

·         We will continue to contribute towards reinvigorating the local economy through targeted, strategic interventions in agriculture, trade, and private sector development, strengthen markets, support development of rural value chains and diversify livelihoods opportunities for rural men, women and unemployed youth to facilitate return and reintegration.

·         We will continue to support improvement in public service delivery and the provision of public goods. We will support access to justice, civil service capacity strengthening, civil service reform and the development of related legislative and policy actions.

·         We will continue to support the process of national reconciliation, transitional justice, and healing, and strengthening of the infrastructure for peace.

·         Given the opportunities provided by the peace agreement, we are ready to support the TGoNU in developing a permanent constitution and prepare for fair and credible elections.

.Excellencies, Distinguished Guests

The future we want for this country can’t only be secured through hand-outs and humanitarian action alone. The scope of the Report is a reflection of the need to invest in the medium to long-term, in the development potential of communities and people.

We must not only hand-out lifesaving kits, we must build resilient communities, restore hope and dignity and support transformational development that enables the people of South Sudan to take control over their destiny. Importantly, our support must seek to strengthen unity and community social cohesion.

If indeed these are the results we want, we must invest in critical enablers to create the right capacities, political, administrative and operational environment to enable our partnership deliver on our common and shared expectations.

Excellencies

History will judge all of us by the extent to which we are able to foster and maintain unity, engender hope and unleash the potential of all the people of South Sudan to live in peace, prosperity and dignity.

This report is about the future we want for South Sudan. It is about hope and optimism. We must lift our eyes beyond the dangers of today to the hopes of tomorrow. It is the future, not the past that demands our earnest and anxious thought.  Our responsibility to future generations demands that we listen carefully to critics, while rejecting the predictions of doomsday sayers.

The future that we seek and are creating must be a brighter one. Whilst there will be setbacks and bumps along the road - as we are witnessing with the implementation of the Peace Agreement – the truth is that our common values should be a force greater than the challenges we confront. No doubt the values that we hold when voiced by generations of people is what makes it possible for us to be together today, and it is these very voices that should continue to serve as an inspiration as we move forward.

In the spirit of solidarity and partnership, I hope you will find the Report useful and that it will contribute to shaping policies and perspectives on human development in South Sudan.

I thank you