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South Sudan, July 2013: On the eve of South Sudan’s second birthday, “Innovation” is the buzz word among young people

© UNICEF South Sudan/2013/Campo

By: Kanako Ohara

July 2013 - South Sudan is an overwhelmingly young nation: over 60% of the populations are children and youths. Martha is one of them. She is one of the fortunate ones to get a good education.

Martha, 23 a recent Information Technology (IT) graduate from the University of Juba is passionate about IT. She was one of the participants for a special event organized by UNICEF “Innovate for Independence” as part of the celebrations. The event was a one day workshop for young South Sudanese focused on locally-driven, innovative solution design which brought together students from the University of Juba's Computer Science and Architecture schools, professors from the University, selected sector specialists, and members of the UNICEF team – another first for the new nation. Through a series of creative thinking and design exercises, the participants identified a set of priority issues for the youth, and began working on the design of innovative, home-grown solutions in response to the challenges identified. 

“I’ve never participated in this type of workshop before. Today I’m learning many new things, especially about health as my group today is looking at issues of health in South Sudan. We shared our ideas with others how we can address it.”

© UNICEF South Sudan/2013/Ohara

Through a series of design exercises, Martha’s group came up with several exciting ideas, including the concept of a music festival to promote key health issues including awareness and knowledge sharing components, and a fundraising mechanism to support community health workers.  

The participants of the Innovate for Independence workshop participated in a full day of learning, sharing and suggesting creative solutions to tackle various issues that they are passionate about.  In the midst of political and economic challenges that South Sudan is still facing, these young innovators have proven their potential as agents of change—defining and pursuing their collective vision for the future they want. 

“On our second Independence Anniversary, I would like to urge our government to give young people a chance to be heard and also to participate fully in the development of this country. Also, young people should not be afraid of sharing their ideas,” ended Martha with a smile.



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