Peacekeeping mission supports building of resilient communities in Western Equatoria State
“For us to be more resilient, we should let idle youth work at farms to produce more food,” suggested Victoria Yatoma, Executive Director of the Nile Sisters Development Organization.
Ms. Yatoma made her recommendation at a workshop preceding the Annual Learning Forum, which is a joint programme launched under the umbrella of the Partnership for Recovery and Resilience in South Sudan.
Two gatherings in the Western Equatoria State towns of Yambio and Nzara, supported by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, brought together representatives of youth, women, religious group, traditional leaders, business communities and state actors to discuss ways forward on how to boost recovery and resilience in the wake of civil war, COVID-19 and other stressful factors.
“We want to ensure that the voices of local communities are well articulated to understand how their businesses and service deliveries are affected by adverse circumstances. That way we can list challenges and needs, come up with realistic recommendations and put them forward at the Annual Learning Forum,” said Russom Habtegabriel ,a representative of the partnership for Recovery and Resilience and Head of the World Food Programme in the state.
During the two-day-long discussions, participants identified economic shocks, sexual and gender-based violence, security and health concerns, wildfires, food insecurity and a lack of access to resources to respond to crises as significant stressors and drivers of conflict in their communities.
“We call for trainings on best agronomic practices, like the most suitable ways to grow crops, control pests, harvest and store the produce. More feeder roods would also contribute significantly to development,” said youth representative Victor Jacob.
A special court to deal with the all too frequent cases of gender-based violence was also recommended.
“We must prioritize raising awareness on violence against women and the terrible effects it has on communities. We ask our partners to review and improve our ways of responding to these issues,” said Edward Mumbasa, Paramount Chief in Yambio.
The slow implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement signed in September 2018 was another source of concern.
“It must be fully implemented to allow everyone to move about freely, without fear of armed groups,” said Justin David, another forum participant.
The Partnership for Recovery and Resilience was established in 2018. It is composed of UN entities and local non-governmental organizations and has, so far, resulted in numerous projects with a positive impact.
“We continue to register good, tangible progress at the livelihood level, despite the ongoing pandemic. Different projects and trainings are creating markets for small-scale farmers and their products,” noted Russom Habtegabriel.