[JUBA: Dec 9th 2019] Original Article by Charles Wote
Earlier this month Bishop Yepeta Nathan Sika was invited to address the Second Annual Forum on Resilience and Recovery in Juba, where hundreds of dignitaries and delegates from diplomatic corps, national and international NGOs, and South Sudanese Government officials had gathered to learn how churches in Western Equatoria worked together to achieve peace in the area.
Two years ago, the resilience and recovery program was launched in Yambio and later extended to Aweil, Torit and Wau to respond and intervene across four pillars for peace, namely: rebuilding trust in people and institutions, re-establishing access to basic services, restoring productive capacities as well as nurturing and broadening effective partnerships. The program promotes local ownership and work across humanitarian and development efforts, combining the need to meet emergency basic needs with the necessity of building resilience for the future.
The Bishop of South Sudan described the contributions made by the churches that had such a great impact on bringing peace to the former Western Equatoria region. This is characterized by rebuilding trust between people and institutions, re-
establishing access to basic services, restoring productive capacities as
well as nurturing and broadening effective partnerships. The Bishop described the ways the new initiative has helped the citizens to realize various developmental programs.
For much of the last five years, conflict in the country has disrupted livelihoods in most parts of the country. Since 2016, crop production levels declined due to displacement of farmers from the eastern, Western and central parts of the Equatoria region. In September this year, the government and UN agencies said more than half of the population of South Sudan – some 6.35 million people do not
know where their next meal will come from. UNICEF said acute malnutrition levels among children has also increased from 13 percent in 2018 to 16 percent in 2019.
But now, thanks to several key partnerships, these issues are being addressed with success in Yambio and several regions of Gbudue State.
“Now we see the fruit of key changes that have impact with this current intervention. We can see road construction reaching to some of the highly agricultural areas in the state, which addresses access and distribution issues.”Bishop Yepeta Sika, CEEC.CHURCH Bishop of South Sudan
But this partnership has allowed the community to work together and forge the path for peace that can allow the community to rebuild itself. Bishop Sika added that, “We have witnessed several successes. There are trainings that are already going on with traditional and local authorities in Gbudue State. There are also livelihood programs and capacity development initiatives underway, and these are having a significant impact. A number of CBOs are also training people. I would like to thank the donor communities for all the support that they gave.”