Emmanuel Lobijo and his organization ‘Junub Open Space’ (JOS) is working towards creating awareness about and achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) in South Sudan. While teaching youth about the SDGs and collecting survey responses for MYWorld2030 at their monthly forums and trainings inside South Sudan, they also aim to document the voice of displaced South Sudanese youth.
“Few people know about the SDGs. When I look at other countries working to achieve the SDGs… As a South Sudanese, a youth, and an entrepreneur, I want to ensure that we too work to achieve the goals”.
Emmanuel recently travelled to Uganda to meet with the ‘Access to Skills and Knowledge Network’, which started up in South Sudan in 2015. Due to the outbreak of conflict in 2016, many South Sudanese became refugees, including members of the network. Once a year the network meets to organize trainings for youth, and in November/December 2018 they conducted trainings in Rhino camp in Uganda.
According to UNHCR, as of December 2018, approximately 790.000 South Sudanese refugees were living in Uganda. Rhino Camp refugee settlement hosts 96.718 of these. Training participants also came from Bidibidi refugee settlement, which hosts the largest number of South Sudanese refugees (220.960). Emmanuel and his colleagues conducted trainings on innovation and skills-building which included the creation and improvement of the mobile network in the camp, improved water filters, and a “repair café”, where people could come with their broken devices and learn how to fix them.
“People might ask, where are the youth of South Sudan? They are full of conflict, they like fighting... We can change this, step by step. Achieving SDGs is a collective effort, it is not done only from the government side”.
Emmanuel was happy and inspired by meeting displaced youth with many great ideas during the training in Rhino Camp. He introduced them to the SDGs by playing the SDG memory game and explaining each goal in detail. If they were to return to South Sudan, Emmanuel asked the young refugees, which goal would be most important and urgent to them? Most of them were concerned with SDG16 (Peace and Justice), SDG4 (Education), and SDG3 (Health). It is Emmanuel’s hope that the voices and ideas of refugee youth are listened to, as they too are eager to work towards the development of their country.
“Listening to the refugees will make us achieve the SDGs”.
Emmanuel himself was born and raised in a camp in Uganda, and only repatriated to South Sudan in 2009. He emphasizes the importance of reaching out to these places where so many South Sudanese reside, and he enjoys working on initiatives empowering the youth generation. During his time in Uganda, Emmanuel voluntarily conducted the MYWorld2030-survey among the young refugees to ensure that their voices are heard.
According to Emmanuel, it is important to “put South Sudan on the map, and to provide a different angle on how people look at South Sudan. We need to show that also good things are happening. South Sudanese youth in the diaspora also want to bring change to their communities. As the saying goes; You have to be the change you want to see in the world. This [the data collection/survey] is a small step to achieve change.”
Emmanuel is clear on which SDG is most important to him: SDG 13, Climate Action.
“If you look at South Sudan - the sun and the heat - that’s climate change. So many things are disappearing, it makes life so hard. In 2009, you would see green spaces, wild animals, now you do not. Climate action is needed to create a better living space for humans and other species. We really need to work for SDG 13 in order to live healthy lives.”