Upper Nile youth form cooperative union to reduce conflict and support development opportunities

Upper Nile youth form a cooperative union to build peace and support job and business opportunities at UNMISS-hosted workshop

13 Dec 2021

Upper Nile youth form cooperative union to reduce conflict and support development opportunities

Samson Liberty

Dozens of youth representatives from across the Upper Nile region of South Sudan came together for a special workshop to build trust and develop a collaborative approach to promoting unity, peace, and security.

There has been persistent conflict among youth in this region with tensions increasing due to the dire economic situation. The violence has included attacks on humanitarian workers and facilities over frustrations related to employment opportunities.

To tackle this situation, 40 youth representatives from 13 counties came up with an innovative plan to form a cooperative union to ease the suffering of young people and support opportunities to create new jobs and businesses. The signing of their action plan was a major milestone in building trust among themselves and showing their readiness to depend on each other.   

“We have joined with the youth to create projects and one activity that we are intending to implement immediately is to form this cooperative union starting with contributions from their pockets. They have contributed about USD300, and I have added USD1000 to that amount for them to start with,” said the workshop facilitator, Edmund Yakani from the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization.

To support the project, the Upper Nile Minister for Youth Affairs promised to provide them with an office and efforts will be made to secure funding from donors to renovate it.

At the conclusion of the conference, the youth signed an action plan as a sign of solidarity and commitment to hold additional peace roundtables and workshops as well as sports and other events to promote forgiveness and reconciliation.

“The start of this youth business project under our own initiative has a small budget right now but, when the business is up and running, then organizations working for peace will fund it, the government may also support it, but the major contribution will come from self-reliance of the youth,” said Malakal representative, Paul Omal Yor.

The three-day workshop, under the theme “Working Together for a Better Future” was facilitated by the Center for Community Empowerment and Progress Organization with support from the Civil Affairs Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

“I am encouraging you to follow the same process when you go home and form small youth cells in your counties,” said UNMISS Civil Affairs Division Deputy Director, Mike Dzakuma. “Once you are identified as a very serious group, we will reach out and support you to implement activities in your own communities.”

While this initiative being celebrated locally, it will hopefully be replicated across South Sudan so that all youth can live peaceful and prosperous lives.