June 21, 2012 (JUBA) - South Sudan’s Warrap state on Thursday said it is seeking the support of the central government in Juba, in facilitation of youth employment schemes in the area.
The new state minister of youth and sports Luka Lual Madhang made the remarks in an interview with Sudan Tribune, during which he explained that the task and responsibilities that lie ahead are enormous, given the huge expectations of the electorate.
This is the same state electorate which elected Nyandeng Malek Deliec the first female state politician to achieve a higher executive office.
After decades of underinvestment while under Khartoum’s rule and civil war, South Sudan remains underdeveloped in various respects, providing limited employment opportunities. This is a particular problem in rural areas. Limited education opportunities also reduces the capacity for people to pull themselves out of poverty. According to the Ministry of Education the illiteracy rate in South Sudan is more than 70 percent.
The objective of the recently established ministry of youth and sport affairs, Madhang explained, is to empower the youths through job creation, providing training or capacity-building initiatives with a view to ensuring their improved professionalism. He observed that many youths in the state are wasting their time loitering on the streets, without the opportunity to use their skills.
“Warrap state is one of the ten states in the country with a high number of youths, so we will ensure that we register all the unemployed youths with their professions under this ministry,” he disclosed.
Madhang explained that only 20 percent of the state’s youth are currently employed and that they make up 60 percent of the population.
Madhang said the ministry has drawn up an action plan to set up a committee which will identify the specific needs of youths in the state.
The government has formed development committees at various levels, right down to the village, according to Madhang These development committees shall be working on assisting any development activity in the county. “If we work in uniformity, we will achieve our objectives,” said Madhang, commending the “back to the land” initiative launched by president Salva Kiir.
According to Madhang there is much fertile, arable land in the state which is currently not being tilled, which contravenes the sentiment of Kiir’s statement that “we eat what we grow and grow what we eat.”
Kiir’s initiative comes in the wake of the decision to shut the pipeline which exported the oil which made up the vast majority of South Sudan’s revenues. With the secession of South Sudan in 2011 it took 75 percent of the oil-producing capacity – leaving Khartoum in an economically precarious position. In a row over the non-payment, to Khartoum, of transit fees which took the oil from landlocked South Sudan to Sudan’s Red Sea coast, Juba shut the pipeline in January. Since then both Juba and Khartoum have implemented austerity measures.
The recent anti-government protests which have seen many youths taking to the streets of Khartoum, have been instigated, in part, by a rise in the price of living as a result of the austerity measures. There is a different mood in Juba which, after decades of civil war, is far more accustomed to a foxhole mentality. Also at just over one year of age, the Government of South Sudan still has a significant cache of patriotic goodwill to rely upon and has not yet made the same mistakes as Khartoum.