With the help of a World Bank-funded project, the community is working hard to change that. About 40 young people are clearing a 43km path to make it usable by vehicles, with support from the Local Governance and Service Delivery Project (LGSDP). The path connects to the main road leading to the Ibba County Headquarters, making the area more accessible and easier for the government to deliver services to those who live there.
The LGSDP is the flagship project of the Government of South Sudan, which aims to deliver services to the rural poor while simultaneously strengthening the capacity of county governments. The $98.5 million project helps to strengthen the link between local government and rural beneficiaries through Payam Development Grants, which are spent on projects that have been prioritized by the communities.
The project also engages non-governmental organizations (NGOs) to manage a community mobilization exercise focusing on conflict and social mapping, and ensuring participation of all members of the community. The process encourages communities to prepare a list of their priorities that are incorporated into county development plans and budgets, and supported by a technical assistance firm.
The communities in Moruko Payam unanimously selected the access road project as a priority, to connect their communities with the county capital of Ibba. The motivated youth, equipped with tools such as hoes, axes, shovels and rakes, have been spearheading this clearing effort with support from the Directorate of Roads in the Ministry of Physical Infrastructure in Western Equatoria. In response to the community members’ request, the county government has agreed to support them with machinery to help clear the larger trees, including a chainsaw and someone to operate it.
“The success of the Moruko feeder road project is an indication that the ideas championed by the LGSDP are viable and worth pursuing,” said Paskwale Kazini, director general of the Western Equatoria State Ministry of Local Government.
With the work now nearing completion, Francis boasts that Moruko Payam will now be able to catch up with the rest of the Ibba County in development, and allow them to open the area to tourists interested in fish and wildlife.
The project has also inspired other payams, said John Kamingara, executive director of Ibba County.
“Other payams of the county where the project has not yet reached are eagerly waiting for their turn,” he said. The LGSDP is currently covering 10 counties in four states throughout South Sudan, and is supporting projects identified by communities, including water, health and education.
Martin Onyach-Olaa, World Bank senior urban specialist and task team leader for the project said the objective of the project is to empower county governments and strengthen their capacity so they can respond to the community’s needs. In a country still struggling with conflict, Onyach-Olaa said it is important for communities to see tangible benefits being provided by their government.
“I was greatly impressed by the enthusiasm of the communities and their contributions to this project, as well as the government’s responsiveness and support to the people,” he said.