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S Sudan told to discuss beyond peace deal, SDGs lag behind

S Sudan told to discuss beyond peace deal, SDGs lag behind
Julius Banda, UNESCO Country Representative to South Sudan. |Credit | Daniel Garang Deng

South Sudan government, media and the general public should debate beyond the peace agreement and start talking about development as the country remains lagging behind in Sustainable development goals, a UN official has said.

The parties inked the peace accord in September 2018. Though its implementation was to come to an end with the conduct of general elections in February 2023, the process has been dragging on due to lack of political will, according to observers.

As a result, the UNESCO Country Representative to South Sudan, Julius Banda, argues that the country and its people are “buried” in the revitalized peace agreement.

“The challenge here in South Sudan is the fact that we tends to be buried in the peace agreement. The peace agreement is extremely important; I’m not trying to undermine anything in that but the point is that, we always want to discuss chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3. Everybody has the chapter they like in the peace agreement. That’s fine, but we have to go beyond peace agreement and start to talk about development,” Banda said.

17 Sustainable development goals are globally and nationally embedded in the development framework aims at ending poverty and achieve Good health and well-being, Quality education, Gender equality and Clean water among others by 2030.

“So, we need to start having that discussion in South Sudan. How far have we gone with the implementation of the sustainable development goals?” Banda stressed.

The UNESCO official said to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals in South Sudan, freedom of expression is paramount.

“These requires the press. The journalists should play a critical role as drivers of those goals to start questioning the progress and lack of progress in the development goals,” He stated.

“So, it’s up to you the journalists to rise up to that challenge and start doing stories and programs focusing on Sustainable Development goals.”

The official said South Sudan strive under poverty, poor quality education but said there is still a room to address the challenge of education and numerous challenges being faced in South Sudan

Banda advised the journalists to embark on promoting SDGs and hold the government and public officials accountable in the country’s development sector.

“The declaration of free education, the government is insisting on that policy now and the journalists were starting to cover. There are challenge that the classrooms faced and the teachers are asking for funding to meet the daily cost of running the classroom. Such debates are important to fill the knowledge gap and to fill what is missing in the supply chain of the development goal,” he underscored.

He made an appeal to the government and the citizens. “I’m calling on government and the people to pay attention to the fact that South Sudan is lagging behind in most of those development goals. We need to start seeing action so that we catch up,” he stated.

The UNESCO high ranking official in the country made the remarks on Thursday during the two days Media training on Sustainable Development Goals organized by the Union of Journalists with Support from UN communication group.

The co-chair of the UN Communication Group encouraged journalists to take regular training on SDG to enlighten public in a simplest way possible.

“To meet the national target of the SDGs, journalists must receive regular training to enable them to relay accurate information to the general public in effective and in a simple format that can easily be comprehended,” said Jemila Mohammed Berhan, who is also a communication specialist of the World Health Organization.

Oyet Patrick, President of the Union of Journalists of South Sudan said the training is good for journalists as it give  diverse knowledge in different fields of development.

“As journalist, one of the biggest challenge is that people expect us to know more about whether it’s economy, science or law whenever we go on air on radios, TV or write on newspapers even though you have not studied anything about it in the school. That’s why trainings like this are really very important for us,” Oyet said.

“similar trainings to the states so that our colleagues who are in the states also benefit from this knowledge and this will play a key role in bringing some of the issues out.”