Fifty-one participants, in 25 groups, presented their refined ideas to a panel of judges for the final round of the Youth Innovation Challenge for Peace competition at Juba Regency Hotel on Tuesday. The Chairperson of the South Sudan Peace and Reconciliation Commission Hon. Chuol Rambang, the Chairperson of the Bureau of Community Security and Small Arms Control (BCSSAC) Lt. Gen. Andrew Kuol Nyuon, and Deputy Special Representative of the Secretary General, UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative Eugene Owusu, were on hand to award the three winning proposals with their prizes and congratulate the youth for their commitment to peacebuilding.
David Mogga Kwaje (28-M) won first place with his 64 Hands SACCO proposal. A group of participants formed as a comedy and performing group “Kilkilu ana Comedy Extra” placed second in the competition, and comprised of Dina Dowki (29-F), Reagan Justin (28-M), Richard Hakim (27-M), Emmanuel Dully (29-M), and Wilma Liderio (21-F). Yine Beatrice Jale (25-F) and Yine Yenki Nyika (26-F) of GOGIRLS-ICT Initiative won third place.
“The purpose of the challenge is not to reward ideas with dollars but to inspire and nurture creativity that would transform South Sudan. It is about building a culture of peace and thrusting the youth at the forefront of creativity and social change, amplifying their ambition and smart use of new technology to engage and transform their society,” said Mr. Owusu.
On his part, Hon. Chuol Rambang advised the youth to use their education and talents to transform South Sudan, so that “their minds may not get rusty,” but rather, “seize the moment to transform the legacy of South Sudan from that of war and conflict to peace and prosperity.”
The Youth Innovation Challenge for Peace was organized by UNDP’s Community Security and Arms Control Project to specifically recognize the strength of youth-led initiatives and the impact of home-grown ideas on societies emerging from conflict. 132 youth attended the original introduction workshop when the competition launched in August 2016. From there, 150 ideas were submitted and 26 semi-finalists were selected by an evaluation committee to participate in this week’s “ideation workshop”. The participants received guidance and support for refining their ideas, structuring their proposals, and delivering effective presentations from UNDP’s Regional Innovation Advisor for Africa Mr. Mark Lepage and local open technology experts from Juba Hub (jHub).
Lightning-round sessions were held on Tuesday, where each project had seven minutes to present their idea in whatever format they chose. Semi-finalists were judged based on a common set of criteria: clarity and presentation of their idea; creativity and originality of their idea; addresses the issue of engaging youth in peace; viability in the long term and financial sustainability; number of youth and general population who could benefit; implementable and realistic; scalable and replicable; and gender and social inclusion.
The overall winning proposal, taking home the top prize of US$10,000 was an individual submission from Mr. Kwaje called 64 Hands SACCO (savings and credit co-operative society), which combines social entrepreneurship with peacebuilding by providing South Sudanese small and medium enterprises access to a community-based source of financing. 64 Hands SACCO is designed to be propelled by youth drawn from all 64 tribes in South Sudan.
“This prize is not mine, it is for all the young people of South Sudan. Because I shall expect you to come and become members of 64 Hands SACCO so that your projects today can become reality,” said Mr. Kwaje on acceptance of his award.
Kilkilu ana Comedy Extra placed second, with seed funding of US$6,000 to execute their vision of developing multi-lingual comedy performances to promote healing, understanding, and reconciliation. Their proposal focused on a pilot program to take place in IDP camps in and around Juba.
GOGIRLS-ICT Initiative won third place and will receive US$4,000 awarded to implement their proposed #TTOS-ICT project. The aim of the project is to engage, educate and empower women and girls in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) based fields through a philosophy of chain-based trainings. GOGIRLS-ICT Initiative focuses on mentoring and making meaningful social impact to address development challenges women and girls face in South Sudan which contribute to insecurity, like early and forced marriage, illiteracy, and unemployment.
The winning submissions will work closely with UNDP moving forward, with the ultimate aim of implementing their ideas on the ground in pilot programs. The guests of honor at the ceremony emphasized the aim of the challenge was just as much about the process and about sparking creativity in the minds of young people in South Sudan, as it was about the tangible prizes.
“I am so delighted and happy to see the young people today,” said Hon. Rambang, speaking to the room full of youth. “I believe when you walk away today you will reflect. If you feel like your ideas [fell short] you will go back and look for more ideas, look for something new, look for new challenges. Let it be a lesson. Continue to research. This was not just about winning. I hope you take everything you learned and heard here forward beyond today. We need you, the youth, to innovate, to compete, and to create something viable. You are our future.”
“Whether you are a high school student or a community worker, a cabinet minister or a young entrepreneur trying to start your own business, this moment in South Sudan’s history requires all of us to step up efforts to support the youth, and assist to orient their actions towards achieving stability above all other priorities,” Mr. Owusu said. “There is overwhelming support – originating, enduring and reinforced by the young people of South Sudan – to work towards transforming this nation into a place where everyone has the opportunity and stability needed to build their futures. The youth are the solution — not the problem. We must empower them and give them the right tools. Where there is a transformative idea, you will find a shining light being pointed by UNDP. UNDP stands with you and looks forward to what develops from this Youth Innovation Challenge for Peace.”
Distributed by APO on behalf of United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).