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Designing Pathways to Peace and Prosperity through market-based resilience in Malakal, South Sudan

Helping youth in South Sudan map peaceful pathways to prosperity by addressing root drivers of conflict and providing economic opportunity

Photo of Ashley Meek
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*Please Upload User Experience Map (as attachment) and any additional insights gathered from Beneficiary Feedback in this field

“Given the opportunity to do business in Malakal, as youths of different tribes (and ethnic groups), we have no problem doing business together, our problem was the politicians misleading us, but now we realized that their words and acts are destructive to us the future generation and it’s time we need to come together for a common purpose. We are lacking livelihood opportunities and access to credit facilities to initiate small businesses activities and work together". Quote from feedback phase

Why does the target community define this problem as urgent and/or a priority? How is the idea leveraging and empowering community assets to help create an environment for success? (1000 characters)

Young people in Malakal face enormous challenges in accessing education, finding work and earning a steady income, compounded by fragile markets and weak governance. The target community defines youth unemployment as a priority on the basis of its inextricable links to perpetuating systemic ethnic clashes and violence. Limited opportunities for youth to earn an income are widely recognized drivers of violent struggles over resources in the community, as well as engagement in structural violence and recruitment into armed groups. The idea is leveraging existing community assets, such as market resilience and the will to cooperate with different ethnic groups on mutually beneficial projects such as business, trading and market participation to create an environment of success. This project will capitalize on youth enthusiasm for cooperating to build small businesses, their knowledge of the local economy and their entrepreneurial spirit to earn an income for their households.

How does the idea fit within the larger ecosystem that surrounds it? Urgent needs are usually a symptom of a larger issue that rests within multiple interrelated symptoms - share what you know about the context surrounding the problem you are aiming to solve. (500 characters)

The ecosystem of country-wide conflict has disrupted agriculture, while the economic crisis caused by ongoing conflict has resulted in a breakdown in healthy markets and infrastructure. As resources and opportunities become more limited particularly within PoC sites which are restrictive and host groups who had historically fought against each other in the area, tensions are fueled and unemployed youth are more likely to engage in negative behaviours and fall victim to local political tensions.

How does the idea affect or change the fundamental nature of the larger ecosystem that surrounds it (as described above) in a new and/or far-reaching way? (500 characters)

The new idea of cash transfers to youth to catalyze peace-building for shared economic opportunities, in tandem with peace education and entrepreneurship training, will empower youth to act as agents of change and reduce poverty in their communities. By positively demonstrating mutually beneficial business development and market participation can mitigate tensions within youth groups, youth will be bridge builders for people and beliefs to promote peace and prosperity in a wider ecosystem.

What will be different within the target community as a result of implementing the idea? What is the scope and scale of that difference? How long will it take to see that difference and how will it be sustained beyond BridgeBuilder support? (500 characters)

The impact will extend to the wider community by spurring a shift towards greater social cohesion, reduced conflict, and long-term poverty-reduction in Malakal. The difference will be seen within the first year through cash injections for vulnerable households to mitigate the effects of extreme poverty. This youth-led change will be sustained through the business development and group savings after the first year wherein a small amount of savings will be directed towards new loans for youth.

How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

When asked which parts of the project they value the most, the resounding theme was moving beyond ‘peaceful co-existence’ with members from other ethnicities and use peacebuilding as a way to poverty reduction. Based on youth suggestions, two additions have been made to the project idea: 1) Participatory market assessment tools are being developed to help youth identify the most strategic options for group businesses, and adapt to future market trends, and 2) Community sensitization activities, with endorsement from influential community leaders, will be used to foster support for the inter-ethnic group business model. In consultation with potential female beneficiaries, women identified two key obstacles that might prevent them from fully participating: Traditional beliefs against women working outside of the home, handling cash, and household responsibilities. The project idea has evolved to include involvement of group leaders to influence attitudes towards women in business.

What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years? (You can attach a timeline or GANTT chart in place of a written plan, if desired.) (1000 characters)

1-3 months - Youth will be selected through the vulnerability selection criteria highlighted earlier. A participatory market assessment will be conducted alongside the youth to determine potential market opportunities. Community engagement and discussion with community leaders will be taken to make them aware of the scope of the project. Cash transfers will start to the youth households. Youth training curriculum will begin. 3-6 months – Training will be finished at the 6 months mark. Business plans will be developed and approved after training completed. Capital will be provided for the business start-up. Cash transfers will continue to youth households until end of 12 months. 6-12 months – Businesses will be established. Cash transfers up until 12 months to youth households. Ongoing technical support will be provided by War Child Canada and UNYDA. 1-2 years – Youth collaborate on establishment of loan system with UNYDA. Savings into fund begin at 18 month mark.

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of roles and responsibilities for each entity). (Feel free to share an organizational chart or visual description of your team). (500 characters)

War Child Canada (WCC) will work in partnership with the Upper Nile Youth Development Association (UNYDA) on implementation. WCC will carry out entrepreneurship training, cash transfer and business development support for groups, while UNYDA will facilitate the peacebuilding education and group savings components (using the War Child Canada training packages). WCC will be responsible for overall project management, financial accountability, monitoring and evaluation, ensuring quality outcomes.

What aspects of the idea would potential BridgeBuilder funds primarily support? (500 characters)

BridgeBuilder funds will support trainings, cash transfers for youth and business capital. Trainings will encompass peacebuilding education, life skills, entrepreneurship, business/financial management, and group savings. Unconditional cash transfers will be given to youth participants for the first 12 months of the project for basic household needs. Cash grants for business start-up will be given to youth business groups after business designs are approved and all trainings are complete.

In preparation for our Expert Feedback Phase: What are three unanswered questions or challenges that you could use support on in your project? These questions will be answered directly by experts matched specifically to your idea and needs.

A. Are there placed where cash transfers and peacebuilding have been brought together? What have been the results? B. War Child Canada is in the process of developing participatory market assessment tools for youth does anyone have experience with, or examples of these? C. There is skepticism around providing cash grants to young people, but War Child Canada has found it to be positive in previous projects. Does anyone have programmatic evidence to support either the benefits or negatives?

Final Updates (*Please do not complete until we reach the Improve Phase*): How has the idea evolved or responded to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase and any further insights provided if you participated in the Expert Feedback Phase? (1000 characters)

Based on youth suggestions, two additions have been made to the project idea: 1) Participatory market assessment tools are being developed to help youth identify the most strategic options for group businesses, and adapt to future market trends, and 2) Community sensitization activities, with endorsement from influential community leaders, will be used to foster support for the inter-ethnic group business model. In consultation with potential female beneficiaries, women identified two key obstacles that might prevent them from fully participating: Traditional beliefs against women working outside of the home, handling cash, and household responsibilities. The project idea has evolved to include involvement of group leaders to influence attitudes towards women in business. Based on insights from the Expert Feedback Phase, we will extend unconditional cash transfers to the first full year of the project and include a gender-sensitive market assessment. See below for further details.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

War Child Canada has taken the suggestion from the expert feedback to extend the unconditional cash transfers to the first full year of the project, allowing youth to meet immediate needs and contribute to household income while their group businesses are in the early stages of growth and to avoid defaulting on the business start-up grant due to extreme vulnerability and the subsequent myopic spending behavior. Informed by War Child Canada's experience in vocational training and small business support in a variety of countries, as well as the growing evidence base which the expert has referred to, we fully agree with the importance of participatory gender-sensitive market assessments to accurately inform entrepreneurs in the design of their business models and market entry points. While potential participants have expressed interest in certain business ideas in the project design and feedback phase, the plan is to provide them with training and tools to asses the market, profitable opportunities, their competitive advantage and distinct contributions they can make. War Child Canada staff will support them through this process and provide technical oversight on compiling the findings. A particular focus of the market assessment and the monitoring of the project, as discussed with the expert, will be the distinctive outcomes of cash transfers to girls and boys respectively, and the effects these transfers will have on the overall household and community for peace and prosperity.

Note that you may also edit any of your previous answers within the proposal. Here is a great place to note any big final changes or iterations you have made to your proposal below:

1. Extension of unconditional cash transfers to individuals for up to 12 months rather than 6. 2. Participatory gender-sensitive market assessment tools are being developed to help youth identify the most strategic options for group businesses, and adapt to future market trends. 3. Community sensitization activities, with endorsement from influential community leaders, will be used to foster support for the inter-ethnic group business model. 4. Monitoring of the project will have a particular focus on outcomes of cash transfers on girls and boys and the household and community. 5. Changes to the User Experience Map to reflect above timeline changes.

Explain your project idea (2,000 characters)

Ethnic conflict in South Sudan predates the country’s independence from Sudan in 2011. These tensions further escalated in 2013, ignited by a political struggle between the President and former Vice-President. As a result, conflict continues to wage resulting in the death of more than 50,000 civilians, displacement of more than 1.5 million and irreparable damage to the economy, agricultural sector and social fabric of society. According to Human Rights Watch, 2 million South Sudanese children are out of school and more than 70 percent of the population are illiterate. The second largest town after Juba, Malakal was at the center of the civil war and bore the brunt of its effects. Young people in Malakal face enormous challenges in accessing education, finding work and earning a steady income, compounded by fragile markets and weak governance, leaving them vulnerable to becoming involved in systemic ethnic clashes and violent political struggles. The project integrates mutually reinforcing components of peacebuilding and income generation in an effort to begin to rebuild trust between groups of youth, with an aim to link peacebuilding efforts and cooperation for economic benefits for all. Youth will be provided with the requisite tools and skills to start, scale-up and sustain income generating activities including cash transfers and participation in businesses and savings groups, intentionally comprised of young people from different backgrounds. At the same time, youth will be trained in peacebuilding education and conflict resolution to promote collaboration for income generation, savings and market participation. Peacebuilding and conflict resolution will be an integral part of the soft skills component of the project, helping young people to address perceived differences, promote mutual understanding and build healthy relationships as they relate to business development, savings groups, and everyday life.

Who are the beneficiaries? (1,000 characters)

Our beneficiaries will be youth ages 18 – 35 (50% females) who are out of work, school or training programs in Malakal Protection of Civilians site, Upper Nile State, South Sudan. The specific ethnic groups targeted are the Dinka, Nuer, and Shilluk youth in the Protection of Civilians site and Malakal Town which have been victim to the ongoing conflict and politics of the country, yet they share the markets for their livelihoods. They will benefit through the opportunity to form their own business and receive support and training throughout the 24 month period to create a sustainable group of youth business leaders from different ethnic backgrounds and communities. Investing in youth now, will achieve longer term stability of the next generation of youth in Malakal.

How is your idea unique? (1,000 characters)

Livelihoods training and economic support alone do not always prevent youth from becoming involved in violence; conversely, peacebuilding alone does not offer youth economic opportunities or reduce poverty in their communities. Some organizations have begun implementing peacebuilding-economic development initiatives for youth, however; cash transfers to youth as a catalyst to peacebuilding for economic opportunity is not widely practiced. War Child Canada has been working with conflict-affected communities in South Sudan since 2011, providing livelihoods and peacebuilding support to youth and their families. Last year, War Child Canada implemented a successful cash-for-work project with youth in Malakal. Years of experience has informed an in-depth understanding of the communities, the conflict drivers, as well as strong relationships with the youth and community leaders, uniquely positioning the organization to implement this new idea.

Idea Proposal Stage (choose one)

  • Initial Design: I am exploring the idea, gathering the inspiration and information I need to test it with real users.

Tell us more about your organization/company (1 sentence and website URL)

By providing access to education, opportunity and justice, War Child Canada gives children in war-affected communities the chance to reclaim their childhood and break the cycle of poverty and violence Website: https://warchild.ca

Expertise in sector

  • 5-7 years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

In 3-4 sentences, tell us the inspiration or story that encouraged you to start this project.

The impetus for the idea came from youth feedback on a recent peace-building project; female and male youth said they had learned to respect members from other ethnic groups, but that they would like to improve the functionality of these newly formed relationships through business start-up and management. They said: “We need something to reduce our economic stress in a way that helps us peacefully engage in small businesses for group benefit and to cooperate to reduce violence among youth"

Please explain how your selected topic areas are influenced, in the local context of your project (1,000 characters).

Peace has been compromised at the national level, further exacerbating tensions in Malakal. Many communities are targeted by political, military, or para-military to mobilize youth groups for their own means . Political fragmentation undermines the peace negotiations and the stability of the country . Prosperity has also suffered by limiting opportunity for investment, sustainable businesses, education, training, or employment. Inflation rates are over 800% with 48% of the population is identified as being in ‘Crisis and Emergency levels’ of food insecurity. Malakal Protection of Civilians site is particularly sensitive, given the restrictive environment and tension within the Protection of Civilians site limiting opportunities for income generation. The resulting cycle of poverty is a challenge to immediate and long-term peace and prosperity.

Who will work alongside your organization in the project idea? (1,000 characters)

Youth in Malakal have been engaged in this project design from the start. Their strengths, needs and interests have been incorporated through participatory focus group discussions. Many of them have ideas for businesses that they would start through cooperation with each other and with cash capital, such as a phone charging centers, a hair dressing salon and charcoal sales. The result is a youth-led project design that builds on the successes of previous initiatives. The Upper Nile Youth Development Association (UNYDA), will work alongside us. UNYDA is a local network of youth associations that foster the capacity of youth to transform their socio-economic circumstances and strengthen peaceful relationships in their communities. War Child Canada and UNYDA have worked in partnership with South Sudanese communities providing youth leadership training, community engagement and capacity building to create sustainable, youth-led peace structures.

Please share some of the top strengths identified in the community which your project will serve (500 characters)

During focus group discussions with local youth, we learned about their enthusiasm for additional market opportunities by working cooperatively with others and building their skills in income generation activities. Their current participation in the market speaks to their resilience, earning income for their households despite existing barriers. They have acute knowledge of market gaps and needs and have already designed business concepts. Our project will respond to this expressed need.

Geographic Focus

South Sudan: Malakal County (Malakal Protection of Civilians site & Malakal town), Upper Nile State

How many months are required for the project idea? (500 characters)

24 months

Did you submit this idea to our 2017 BridgeBuilder Challenge? (Y/N)

  • No

32 comments

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Comment
Photo of Arzoo E Karbala
Team

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Photo of Arzoo E Karbala
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Photo of suman  desai
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Photo of Joan Mumaw
Team

Congratulations on being a winner with a great proposal. We will be very interested in the progress of this initiative. Solidarity with South Sudan had a teacher training college in Malakal which was virtually destroyed in this recent civil war. We would like to see the community rebuild. Hope is with these youth. May you be successful in the implementation so that you can take this project to other areas of the country which need similar incentives for peace and rebuilding of lives and communities.
Sr Joan Mumaw, IHM, Friends in Solidarity, US partner to Solidarity with South Sudan

Photo of Ashley Meek
Team

Thank you so much Joan. Do you have programs in other areas of the country?

Photo of Joan Mumaw
Team

Yes, Solidarity with South Sudan runs a Teacher Training College in Yambio, the Catholic Health Training Institute in Wau (trains registered nurses and certified midwives); an Agricultural Training Project in Riimenze (also the site of 6000 IDPs). We are also on the staff of the Good Shepherd Peace Center outside of Juba. (A conference and training center open to all groups) We also do training of teachers and training of pastoral teams in areas like Malakal, Bor, Meridi, etc. And trauma healing workshops around the country when travel is possible. www.solidarityfriends.org or www.solidarityssudan.org

Photo of Kathleen Rommel
Team

Hi Ashley,

This is a very interesting project, and congrats on making it to this phase! Like you, I am particularly interested in hearing more feedback on cash transfers and their success. Specifically, have you had any feedback from the community about how those who have not received the transfer are treating those who have?

Thanks for taking the time to share!

Photo of Ashley Meek
Team

Hi there Kathleen,

For this current project, we haven't chosen anyone yet. For previous War Child Canada projects using cash-for-work or unconditional cash, it's a sensitive activity on selection of beneficiaries and one that we always make sure to be transparent with the groups of people we work with. We often use community leaders as a guide for selecting beneficiaries, however we don't take their word as final, often we apply our own vulnerability criteria which is agreed upon with the stakeholders and verify each household before registering them for cash transfers or business support. We don't want to fall into the trap of relying too heavily on persons of influence in a community, especially in a context such as a PoC site with very complicated relationships between persons. In most cases, we have witnessed in the past, most community members welcome the cash transfers and often we have witnessed one household sharing with others who do not receive the transfer. Market actors are often also quite happy because it means more money flowing in and out of their businesses and through the community. There is always the challenge of not meeting 100% coverage of a community, however this is the reality in every cash project regardless of size, so I think it's just a matter of transparency at the beginning of the project and outlining the objectives and scope of the project with everyone to avoid these issues arising later on.

Photo of Kathleen Rommel
Team

Hi Ashley,

This is incredibly thoughtful and helpful, thank you! As our team discusses options around cash transfers, I'll be sure to reach out with any additional questions!

Thanks again,
Kathleen

Photo of Ashley Meek
Team

Yes of course, please do reach out if you have more questions. I would also suggest the CaLP resources available, if you haven't seen them yet, for unconditional and conditional cash transfers. They can be of great use and practical guidance and at the very least a stepping stone to formulating your own interventions.

Photo of Kathleen Rommel
Team

Thank you—These resources are very helpful!

Photo of Nicole Ballou
Team

Hi Ashley,

Congratulations! This is an incredible project, and it's exciting to see your emphasis on youth-driven social change and your commitment to the engagement of youth in Malakal in project design and implementation. I was interested in what you wrote about the factors women identified as obstacles to their participation. How have group leaders been able to address these obstacles?

Thank you, and I look forward to learning about your project as it develops! Good luck!

Best,
Nicole

Photo of Ashley Tillman
Team

Hi Ashley Meek hope you are well! It seems like your email isn't working mind sending me a quick email note from another email address?

Photo of Ashley Meek
Team

Hi Ashley, I sent you an email from my War Child Canada account. Did you receive it? I have been getting the OpenIDEO updates through this account. Thanks!

Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Ashley,
I really appreciate the effort you've put into this project and the rationale behind it. I have seen in my own experience as an educator, what a profound difference small means of economic support can make in the success and completion rates of students, and how much lives can be transformed by creating the kind of pathways you are engaging. Congratulations on your work, and keep it up!

Photo of Ashley Meek
Team

HI Marnie,

I appreciate the kind words on the design. We're hoping to come out of this with something we can scale up eventually and perhaps look at different contexts. War Child Canada is always looking for ways to incorporate local partners and realistic goals from the communities we're serving, we hope this design will achieve that. Best of luck on your proposal as well!

Photo of Marnie Glazier
Team

Thanks so much, Ashley!

Photo of Tom Smolich SJ
Team

Dear Ashley and Colleagues,

Thank you for this presentation. I am the advisor matched to your proposal for feedback. I am not an expert in cash transfers, so I hope what I can offer is of some assistance. Others who read this, please feel free to add your comments and challenges to my thinking!

A. Are there placed where cash transfers and peacebuilding have been brought together? What have been the results?

I am not aware of this rationale per se. That being said, I would suggest that your proposal has as much in common with lending circles as it does with cash transfers. You are essentially creating a communal project and using cash transfers as the vehicle to allow young people to focus on the activity. I would add that it is the activity itself (starting businesses made up of diverse partners) which will generate the change, not the cash transfers and individual activities, which is the norm.
At the risk of diving into "programme speak," I would encourage you to deepen the logical framework of your effort. Cash transfer programmes (and research) tend to focus on individual outcomes. You are doing something different here.

Also, I wonder if six months is really long enough for the transfers; often nascent businesses fail because the capital is needed to meet everyday expenses and life emergencies. Unless a business is profitable from Day 1, the pressures the cash transfers alleviated in the planning phase will still be present and pressing.

B. War Child Canada is in the process of developing participatory market assessment tools for youth does anyone have experience with, or examples of these?

Again, no expert. However, you might look at https://seepnetwork.org/files/galleries/629_TN_Guidelines_Experiences_508.pdf,
a USAID publication which is ten years old, and worth reading. The key is participation, as noted.

Something the report highlights, and something I would agree with, is the incomplete information that youth have about markets, business, etc. Looking at your Experience Map, the four businesses identified do not draw on the particular contributions/expertise of young people and are likely very competitive spaces; in addition, charcoal sales can be problematic on a number of levels. As you develop the programme, I would encourage a focus on the distinctive markets/ contributions that youth can enter/make.

C. There is skepticism around providing cash grants to young people, but War Child Canada has found it to be positive in previous projects. Does anyone have programmatic evidence to support either the benefits or negatives?

Most cash assistance to youth involves education---staying in school and providing cash payments to substitute for the income youth would otherwise generate. Generally they are successful. The two things worth learning from these studies: cash transfers to girls often have distinctive outcomes from transfers to boys, and the effects these transfers have on families is significant. This is related to gender, educational expectations, etc...some topics you have already touched on in this proposal. May I suggest going into this are with eyes wide open.

Good luck on this effort, and thanks for the energy and imagination that has gone into it.

Peace,
Tom Smolich SJ
Jesuit Refugee Service

Photo of Ashley Meek
Team

Hi Tom,

Thanks for the insightful feedback, we really appreciate your participation in this process. In response to your particular comments:
A) Our team has taken your suggestion to extend the unconditional cash transfers to the first full year of the project, allowing youth to meet immediate needs and contribute to household income while their group businesses are in the early stages of growth. We will also flesh out our theory of change and logic models to articulate the group and societal change that we seek to achieve (rather than simply individual changes) through business development and peacebuilding, with cash transfers as a critical tool.
B) Informed by War Child Canada's experience in vocational training and small business support in a variety of countries, as well as the growing evidence base which you have referred to, we fully agree with the importance of market assessments to accurately inform entrepreneurs in the design of their business models and market entry points. While potential participants have expressed interest in certain business ideas in the project design and feedback phase, the plan is to provide them with training and tools to asses the market, profitable opportunities, their competitive advantage and distinct contributions they can make. This way, they can make informed decisions and adjust and/or change their initial ideas as necessary.
C) Absolutely. We will certainly be taking a gender sensitive approach, from beginning to end!

Photo of Tom Smolich SJ
Team

Ashley,
Thanks for your comments. I'm glad what I wrote made sense. The decision for a year of cash payments seems like the right one to me, and increases the chances of success.
Speaking of which, all success in this project!

Tom

Photo of Macheru Karuku
Team

Hi Ashley,
I salute you for all that you are doing in South Sudan. We in Kenya are key stakeholders of whatever happens in that country whether it is in times of peace or war. In peace time Kenyans benefit immensely by seeking employment or dong businesses there while they suffer even physical injuries during the war. In addition Kenya hosts the South Sudanese refugees, a task that is not easy for us.
In my view Your idea is very appropriate as it would not only benefit Sudan but also the larger environment. I wish you all the best in your undertakings. Thanks.

Photo of Ashley Meek
Team

Hi Macheru, thanks for the words of encouragement. Your initiatives at Camp Mahon seem very innovative and responsive to issues of poverty, conflict and environmental degradation in the area. Best of luck with your idea!

Photo of iACT
Team

Hi Ashley,
So great that you are working with youth in South Sudan, caught in cycles of violence, and that War Child Canada is truly including them in the project design from the start! Your idea to combine cash transfers in tandem with peace education and entrepreneurship training sounds promising and we'll be eager to learn about your progress and lessons learned from the tools you develop.

Photo of Ashley Meek
Team

Hi there,

Thank you for the kind words. We're hoping to learn from this process as much as possible in order to come away with a design that we feel can bring about some significant change. The discussions we had with the youth in the communities provided us with a lot of really valuable points to include in the initial design and we plan to keep that conversation going.

Photo of Jill LaLonde
Team

Hi Ashley, I really enjoyed reading about your project. I work for OneVillage Partners, a community-led development organization operating in rural Sierra Leone. We are building out a follow-on to our picture-based financial literacy and empowerment program to include skills in starting and operating a business. I'm curious if you have or use any tools that help individuals with a basic market assessment to determine the highest potential business opportunities for their investment. Best of luck in the Beneficiary Feedback Phase!

Photo of Ashley Meek
Team

Hi Jill, great question. We have also recognized a need for basic, individual market assessment techniques to empower beneficiaries to make decisions on business viability, rather than relying solely on a wide scale market assessment. We are actually in the process of developing these tools! I'm really interested in learning more about your picture-based financial literacy and empowerment program, perhaps we could chat more about it offline? Thanks!

Photo of Jill LaLonde
Team

Hi Ashley, Absolutely! I'd love to chat, and it would be great to keep in touch as each of our organizations builds out these tools. Can we set up a time for a Skype call? My email address is jill@onevillagepartners.org.

Photo of Ashley Meek
Team

Definitely. I'll send you an email :)

Photo of Janet Ilott
Team

Hi Ashley! I used to work for War Child Canada way back at the organization's beginning! It's a wonderful organization! I really applaud you for this initiative! South Sudan is a very difficult context in which to work and your project is really important. I would like to know more about how you plan to incorporate the gender element in this project? Here in Haiti we are struggling with this issue. How will you achieve 50% female representation? I'm also asking this because I've worked in South Sudan and I remember how difficult the inclusion of women was there. I would love to hear your input on this.

Photo of Ashley Meek
Team

Hi Janet, thank you so much for your valuable question. The inclusion of women continues to be a challenge in South Sudan, which is why so much of our work is focused on ensuring access for girls and women to bring transformative, sustainable change.

While South Sudan has experienced an increasing number of women holding positions as civil servants and politicians, many South Sudanese women, especially those in rural areas, are subject to continued unequal gender relations and lack of opportunity to engage in peacebuilding initiatives.

In focus group discussions held with young women from target communities at the project design stage, they demonstrated great interest in engagement in peacebuilding and market initiatives at the local level, but identified a variety of obstacles to participation such as: low literacy levels; times and locations of activities; lack of transportation; household responsibilities and societal beliefs and practices that uphold traditional gender norms.

In keeping with War Child Canada’s child-centered development approach, which focuses on the systems of relationships that children/youth experience, this project will promote equitable participation in ways that extend beyond the individual, but also into households and communities. War Child Canada will facilitate female participation by ensuring that activities are at times and locations that are neutral and accessible, that transportation is reimbursed, child care is provided and that literacy is not a required skill for engagement.

Moving beyond individual factors, War Child Canada will leverage progress and successes made in gender equality in its ongoing work in Malakal, which will serve as a foundation for the involvement of young women in this project. War Child Canada will also draw on the deep-rooted relationships with communities, which have been developed through long-term and continuous presence in Malakal’s conflict-affected communities. War Child Canada works with local volunteers to strengthen social norms that positively reinforce the value of women and denounce harmful traditional practices in their communities. Both male and female volunteers are equipped and supported to lead awareness-raising events, public dialogues, music dance and drama, as well as small group discussions. Further, War Child Canada invokes the power of local influencers, providing community leaders with tools and knowledge to foster transformative change in attitudes and behaviour towards gender equality and participation of women in all domains of society.

Photo of Ashley Tillman
Team

Hi Ashley, great to see you in the Challenge! Would love to learn a little more about your program. Two questions that immediately come to mind: 1) how do you identify and select, which young people get to be a part of the program? and 2) Can you share a bit more about the peace building part of your program?

Dima Boulad and Jean-Marc Mercy curious if either of you have any questions or thoughts too!

Photo of Ashley Meek
Team

Hi Ashley, thanks for your interest! In response to your questions:
1) Our beneficiaries will be youth ages 18 – 35 (minimum 50% females) who are out of work, school or training programs in Malakal Protection of Civilians (PoC) site and Malakal Town in Upper Nile State, South Sudan. Emphasis will be placed on youth from the Dinka, Nuer, and Shilluk tribes/ethnicities, as these groups are most actively involved in the conflict in the target areas.

War Child Canada will employ a conflict-sensitive approach, working with community leaders and members to develop selection criteria for beneficiaries that will take into consideration: equitable representation from diverse tribes and ethnicities (with a focus on the groups mentioned above); inclusivity of youth with disabilities; level of access to services; vulnerability; socio-economic background, and; other considerations as locally relevant. Vulnerability criteria will include conflict affected youth who are primary caregivers for children, heads of households, or members of households identified as extremely vulnerable (single female-headed households, high number of dependents, little to no current household income, persons with disabilities, pregnant/lactating female youth).

War Child Canada strongly adheres to a ‘Do No Harm’ approach in all programming and will ensure that the beneficiary selection process will be informed by a conflict and gender analysis in each unique target area. Upon finalization of the selection criteria, community leaders and members will be involved in the final selection, in coordination with IOM who registers PoC households.

2) This program will be based on War Child Canada’s peacebuilding approach, which has been successful in 5 conflict-affected countries, including South Sudan. The end goal is to transform, rather than continuously resolve conflict, and to empower youth to promote peaceful co-existence. The approach brings youth from conflicting groups together in a safe space to learn about each other, address perceived differences, foster mutual understanding and trust, as well as identify shared goals for collaboration (in this case, small businesses). To equip youth with fundamental skills to build and sustain peace, modules on effective communication, conflict prevention and non-violent conflict resolution are also included. The exercises and modules are delivered through a mix of discussion, participatory activities, including arts and sports for peace, all which have been effective platforms for eliciting thoughts, feelings and capacities required for transformation of conflict and collective peacebuilding efforts.

With an aim to link peacebuilding to income generation and market integration in this new pilot project, War Child Canada’s proven peacebuilding approach will be adapted to focus on helping young people to build robust relationships and prevent/resolve conflict for business development, savings groups, and market participation. The peacebuilding component will precede any business development or entrepreneurial training and will remain a complimentary aspect for the duration of the pilot.