Some 50 traditional leaders benefited from a joint workshop conducted by UNMISS, UNDP and the state Ministry of Presidential Affairs in Bor, Jonglei. The focus: strengthening awareness of key roles and responsibilities as stipulated within the Local Government Act (2009). Photo by David Majur Awuou
JONGLEI - Some 50 traditional and community leaders drawn from across all nine counties in South Sudan’s Jonglei state came together for a two-day conference jointly facilitated by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The focus of the workshop: To raise awareness among community influencers on the contents of the Local Government Act (2009) as well as ensure participants are clear about their roles and responsibilities as stipulated within this document.
The forum, organized with the support of the state Ministry of Presidential Affairs, according to Geetha Pious, the head of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s field office in Jonglei, is key for building a lasting peace from the ground up.
“Peace cannot be shaped in a vacuum or in isolation. Therefore, such collaborative activities which build capacities of community leaders is much needed at a time when we all need to increase momentum to achieve the benchmarks contained within the Revitalized Peace Agreement," stated Ms. Pious.
Addressing the participants, Ms. Pious stressed the important role they play in ensuring communities eschew violence and embrace peace, progress.
For his part, Simon Hoth, state Minister for Peacebuilding echoed Ms. Pious.
“Your importance as leaders of communities in the overall peace architecture of South Sudan cannot be overemphasized. So, our objective in bringing you together is to ensure that you are clear about the part that you are obligated to play as per law and also to know when an issue is beyond your jurisdiction to field it to the right authorities,” averred Minister Hoth.
The Minister also appreciated the UN family for its collective efforts to pave the way for a more prosperous future for all South Sudanese.
“I would be heartened if both UNMISS and UNDP continue these capacity-building efforts for local administrators and government officials,” he added.
Participants said they believed the interactive forum was of value to them.
“Since civil war first broke out in 2013, we haven’t been able to meet each other. In these two days, we have rekindled relationships and discussed shared struggles while learning about our important contributions to the future of our country,” revealed Mary Nyanguot Deng, a woman community leader.
For state Governor, Denay Jock Chagor, the separation of political interests from community benefits is critical.
“Your job as traditionally accepted leaders is to resist all attempts at politicization of your beliefs. Your moral authority is incorruptible and a necessary compass for all South Sudanese to usher in an era of development,” stated Governor Chagor eloquently.
Attending leaders committed to several resolutions at the end of the conference and spoke about common challenges, which included floods, insecurity, and a lack of regular salaries. The latter has made it difficult for them to sustain their livelihoods and they requested the government for regular paydays, one of the stipulations contained within the Act.
Another key recommendation: For the government to action flood mitigation measures speedily so that communities can begin farming again.