8 June 2019, JUBA — Following a three-day rapid innovation sprint, top youth-led solutions to address food security and agricultural transformation in South Sudan were awarded incubation grants to pilot their ideas. Sixty participants, in 23 groups, presented their refined ideas to a panel of judges for the final round of UNDP’s most recent Youth Innovation Challenge at Juba Multipurpose Training Center on Saturday.
The teams presented their prototypes during a ceremony presided over by, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Culture, Youth, and Sports, Hon. Kuac Wek Wol, Undersecretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Dr. John Ogoto Kanisio Michael, Chairperson for Juba University Council Hon. Manase Lamule, South Sudan Youth Union representative Bak Athian Bak, Managing Director Equity Bank Dr. Addis Abba Othow, First Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Marc Maziarac, and UNDP Resident Representative Kamil Kamaluddeen.
“I am exceedingly excited by the presentations of today. You have shown that South Sudan is full of energetic and creative young men and women - the future of this country - who are ready to create transformational change. By bringing these entrepreneurial ideas and innovations into life, you will be job creators, not job seekers. Go out there and move mountains, only the sky is your limit,” said Chairperson for Juba University Council Hon. Manase Lamule, following the team presentations.
A team proposal won overall first place, consisting of teammates Rasha Angelo (27-F), Cissy Apio (32-F), Richard Abondio (31-M) and Juma Obura (32-M). Lujang Teadato (26-M) won second place with his concept to use recycled materials for drip irrigation. Emmanuel Yoasa (34-M) won third place with his Crop-Tech proposal.
“Several of the innovations shared today really touched my heart, and the energy in this room was just fabulous. Our Government and the Ministry believe in youth, and for those who did not win today, remember that you still have all the opportunities to go ahead and implement your ideas,” said Undersecretary of Culture, Youth and Sports Hon. Kuac Wek Wol.
The Youth Innovation Challenge was organized by UNDP’s Youth Employment and Empowerment Project, funded by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, to specifically recognize the strength of youth-led initiatives and the impact of home-grown ideas to accelerate progress on food security and agriculture transformation in South Sudan. 169 ideas were submitted, and 23 semi-finalist concepts were selected by an evaluation committee to participate in a three-day “design sprint” process. The participants received guidance and support for refining their ideas, structuring their proposals, and delivering effective presentations, from experts at the Ministry of Agriculture, UNDP and a team of subject-matter mentors across a variety of fields.
“This has been three wonderful and impressive days, that have shown us the great talent of the next generation South Sudanese. You have inspired us with your presentations and ideas, spanning from education and training, mobile apps and web-based systems, to ideas on how to increase agricultural productivity and how to connect people and communities. You have proved that this country is full of possibilities,” said First Secretary of the Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands Marc Maziarac.
Lightning-round pitching sessions were held before the awards ceremony on Saturday, where each project had five minutes to present their idea and their prototypes. Semi-finalists were judged based on a common set of criteria: how well the concepts addressed food security, agriculture and Sustainable Development Goal 2: No Hunger in South Sudan; how well the concepts applied an innovative lens to their solutions; how implementable and realistic the proposed pilot of their idea was; and how scalable and replicable the overall concept was.
“Today, you have shown that there are solutions to anything, and during this Innovation Sprint, you have tackled the root causes to the issue of hunger and food insecurity. I want to especially thank the Kingdom of the Netherlands for believing in this kind of partnership, and to Equity Bank for bringing in the private sector perspective and expertise to all of this,” said UNDP Resident Representative Kamil Kamaluddeen.
The winning submissions will work closely with the Youth Empowerment project at UNDP, as well as the forthcoming Accelerator Lab, to incubate their solutions with the ultimate aim of implementing their ideas on the ground in pilot programs. The guests of honor at the ceremony emphasized the aim of the challenge was just as much about the process and about sparking creativity in the minds of young people in South Sudan, and that beyond the awards presented that day, support exists for bringing to life many of the concepts.
“If you want to take your ideas on agricultural transformation to the next level, the Ministry of Agriculture and our partners are here to team up with you. These ideas can truly drive the development of our country, and I’m thrilled about the opportunities and solutions that you have shown today,” said Undersecretary of Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security Dr. John Ogoto Kaniois.