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“Since we’re now beginning to recover from the ravages of civil war, I am looking forward to our government prioritizing the agricultural sector,” said Assunta Vitale, a vegetable seller in Wau, South Sudan. “I bring fresh vegetables and fruit to the local market every day and I speak for all other small farmers like me when I say that we would benefit greatly from assistance.”
Assunta was speaking at an event with 40 representatives from local government, civil society organizations, faith groups, community leaders and the private sector, which aimed to build resilience among local communities.
Participants from the Jur river and Wau localities held robust discussions on ways forward to promote programmes boosting community-based recovery and resilience.
“It’s very important for us to share our experiences, challenges and lessons learned,” stated John Baptist, a participant. “Listening to our partners, our neighbours speak of how they’ve overcome the adversity that conflict visited upon us and what we need in terms of support is an eye opener for many of us. It also helps us understand that we’re not alone in the struggle to build stronger family units and more resilient communities,” he added.
For her part, Sarah Cleto Rial, Governor, Western Bahr el Ghazal, said she believed that platforms like this enable people to come together, share learning and come up with joint recommendations that enables the state government to comprehend and address key public needs for entire communities. “When it comes to recovering from conflict and fortifying our resilience as South Sudanese communities, we have suffered a major setback with the COVID-19 pandemic. However, if we set realistic goals, I feel that we can still do a lot to build our strength and livelihoods, despite the virus,” she stated.
Julie Kiwanuka, Team Leader, UNMISS Relief, Reintegration and Protection, echoed Governor Rial’s words. “What we’re trying to do through this forum isn’t something radically new. The objective is to tweak and harness the power of partnerships to help build community resilience and reconciliation,” she said.
“Humanitarian and development partners have come together today to discuss how to reduce the massive needs of communities living here. They have identified a number of stressors that every individual faces in South Sudan, including political upheaval, subnational conflict, displacement, food insecurity, disease outbreak, drought, and, now, COVID-19,” she added. “The challenge is to find a collective, sustainable way to minimize the impact of these community stressors.”
This UNMISS-organized event was a precursor to the Annual Learning Forum, which is a joint programme launched under the umbrella of the Partnership for Recovery and Resilience in South Sudan (PfRR).
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).