South Sudan: Investment Needed to Secure Nation's Future

Jul 05, 2011, 17:17 ET from Plan International USA

JUBA, South Sudan, July 5, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Major investment in education, youth employment and vocational skills training is needed to secure the future of the world's newest state of South Sudan, says global development organization Plan International.

Plan's Regional Director in Eastern and Southern Africa, Gezahegn Kebede, said that Plan would invest more than $56 million over the next five years, focusing on peace-building initiatives and improving access to basic education in the country whose infrastructure and economy were battered by more than two decades of civil strife.

South Sudan officially becomes an independent state on July 9th after more than 98% of South Sudanese voted in January for independence in a referendum. Last month, the South Sudanese government launched its three-year Development Plan to drum up support for its reconstruction and development agenda.  

In response to the government's appeal, Mr. Kebede said Plan would be mobilizing $30 million over the next three years to ensure that children and youth in South Sudan have access to basic and vocational education. South Sudan has a population of more than 8.5 million people, with children and youth accounting for more than 50%.

Plan has been operating in South Sudan's Central Equatoria State since 2006, supporting the developmental and post conflict needs of children.

The Director of Plan in South Sudan, Fikru Abebe, said Plan had been expanding its operations in Africa's 54th nation to cover the underserved states such as the Lakes, Northern Bahar El Gazal and Jongolei states.  Its programs are also currently focused on providing humanitarian response to spontaneous returnees mostly from North Sudan.

"Most of these states served as the main battleground during the civil war that rocked South Sudan for more than two decades and are currently home to high numbers of children that were injured, orphaned and traumatized. We are seeing an influx of returnees to these areas who require support," Abebe said.

Last year Plan invested more than $6 million rehabilitating and building two Technical and Vocational and Entrepreneurial Training (TVET) centers in Juba and Lainya state.   Further investments will be made this year into building and rehabilitating TVET centers in other states to help establish and revive other learning centers for youth.

"In addition, we will be expanding the Basic Employability Skills Training (BEST) program in Juba and Central Equatoria where Plan has trained over 600 youth over the past 12 months. There is a huge response from the youths -- especially girls -- towards the BEST program, which helps ensure employment after graduation.  We see BEST as one of the initiatives that will help address the critical shortage of skills in both the private and public sectors in South Sudan," Abebe said.

Plan will be partnering with government and other development actors in South Sudan to roll out a community-led sanitation program in ten states. This will be in addition to its ongoing programs aimed at addressing the humanitarian needs of returnees, including providing food, seeds and farm implements, clean water and education.

"We will also continue to support the provision of access to basic education through the construction of primary schools, equipping and furnishing them as well creating a safe learning environment and building the capacity of Parents Teachers Associations (PTA) to manage the schools," Abebe said.

About Plan International USA

Plan International USA is part of a global organization that works side-by-side with communities in 50 developing countries to end the cycle of poverty for children.  Plan develops solutions community by community to ensure long-term sustainability.  Our level of community engagement, long-term outlook and constant focus on the needs and priorities of children is unique among international development organizations.  Plan's solutions are designed up-front to be owned by the community for generations to come and range from clean water and healthcare programs to education projects and child protection initiatives.

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SOURCE Plan International USA