Religious leaders and youth call for establishment of small-scale businesses to develop Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal

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Religious leaders and youth in Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal are requesting that their Governor invest to set up micro businesses to nurture development in their state. They also believe that the state’s government policies should be aligned and unified with the implementation of the country’s revitalized peace agreement.

“Most young people here have no jobs, and therefore the Governor should establish a young people’s ‘production centre’ where we can manufacture different things, for example soaps or chalks,” says Quan Atak Quan, a 22-year-old youth representative and one of some 75 people participating in a three-day forum organized by the Civil Affairs Division of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan.

The youth, women, traditional and religious leaders and other civil society representatives in attendance were gathered to discuss a variety of policy and other issues with Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal State’s newly appointed Governor, Tong Akeen Ngor.

“We need our state to focus on development. One part of that would be the creation of a commercial bank for female entrepreneurs and other women,” commented Bishop Abraham Wol, representing faith-based groups.  

Everyone agreed that there is a need for a strategic vision and plan to resolve issues facing local communities, and that this should be achieved collectively, in an inclusive manner.

“Women are left behind because we are not educated. Our society, dominated by men, wants us stay at home, which often means that we don’t learn to speak English or Arabic and become excluded. My request to the Governor is to make sure that our girls go to school,” said Monica Akol, Deputy Chair of the Women’s Association. 

The Governor and other politicians present were also reminded of their responsibility to help the country implement the revitalized peace agreement, signed almost three years ago, at the state level.

“The drafting of the blueprint of the state strategic plan should be initiated, and it should focus on governance, businesses and the delivery of services to the population,” said Edmond Yakani, Executive Director of the Community Empowerment and Progress Organization, as he read out the recommendations of the forum.

Several stakeholders at the event stressed the need for transparency, described as a requirement for development to take place, and lamented that the currently insufficient flow of information impedes both coordination and the possibility to hold officials accountable for their actions.

“Both leaders and citizens need a vision because without it we don’t know where we are moving. Commitment to the actions related to that vision is necessary, and the underlying commitment of every public servant must be to serve the public and society as a whole,” remarked Ataklti Hailu, head of the peacekeeping mission’s field office in Aweil.

Full of food for thought, Governor Tong Akeen Ngor promised that he would bring the many recommendations made by participants to a national forum scheduled to take place in the capital Juba.

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