Written by Yamba Mbizule
The background story:
Dr Jacob Mogga is Project Director for the South Sudan Livelihoods Development Project (SSLDP). The project aims to improve food security with 3 main outputs: increased farm and off-farm production, improved access to market, and the improvement of the living standards of the majority poor beneficiaries.
The project aims to organise and maximise the effect of various stakeholder partnerships – specifically the: Government (to improve structural capacities), Private Sector (provide micro-financing opportunities and experiences), and UN agencies (donors who would help in the provision of funds). The session sought to discuss how to best provide support to communities at the grassroots level and how to create an enabling environment for stakeholder involvement.
There are two key challenges:
- The poor state of roads and infrastructure
- Farm prices – increasing rapidly by factors such as the high pay demand for labour
Facilitator: Good Afternoon, Is this Dr Jacob Mogga?
Dr Mogga: Yes, this is.
Dr Mogga is introduced to everyone in the room and explains in less than 5 minutes the project and challenges. After introductions and clarification on session procedure…
Facilitator: Taking into account Mr Mogga’s concerns, due to time constraints, we will focus specifically on the issue of roads and infrastructure in context of the 3 levels of involvement from the UN agencies, local and national government, and private sector entities.
Focussing on the topics, the peers took on the challenge of brainstorming and came up with the following ideas…
Peer 1: In order to target the private sector, it might be wise to look at an entity large enough to support such an endeavour i.e. an oil company present or operating in and around the development areas. The approach would most likely be that of a Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) exercise in which the company gets recognition for investing without any financial gain or stake in the communities.
Peer 2: It would be beneficial to reference the case of Shell in Nigeria. They invested in oil mining in the developing areas of the country but it had severely adverse effects on the communities in and around the operational zones. Shell then sought to repair its image by investing in social development initiatives that would help the community that serviced the plants themselves to improve their livelihoods.
Peer 3: The main concern is that of community wellbeing and improvement, in which case a thorough feasibility exercise would be best in order to ensure that fairness and level of improvement are of a satisfactory standard.
Peer 4: NGOs could be used as a bridge between the communities and the other sectors. The NGOs would have better access to the communities and would be able to then become the voice of the people and moreover a valuable liaison and effector of change in mind set and help to garner support.
Peer 2: Local government would need to gain a good foothold in the newly accessible areas in order to create and maintain a good governance and upkeep structure for infrastructure.
Peer 3: In targeting UN agencies, it would be best to use the power they have in attracting investment from private sector companies. This way the funds are able to be given as a donor without any corporate strings attached.
Peer 5: the UN agencies could also responsible for funding or initiating projects that address the financing of Road Networks, the upgrade thereof and the capacity building of communities in order to allow them to maintain the newly introduced infrastructure.
Peer 1: The project should focus on the building of industry. Key focus should be that of connecting communities and establishing sustainable trade opportunities and better access to markets – this will help towards fostering community buy-in and ownership.
The conversation draws to an end, the facilitator closes and invites Mr Mogga to address any last issues.
Mr Mogga: Thank you very much for your feedback. I will send my details around to each and every one of you in order to establish contact for further feedback. Thank you once again and good afternoon.
The call ends... “And Scene!”