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Peter’s story: Youth journalist reports on food insecurity in Southern Sudan

© UNICEF-NYHQ/2009/Kavanagh
Peter Yel, 16, at the radio workshop sponsored by UNICEF Radio, Southern Sudan Radio and UNICEF's Education in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition Programme.

In the run-up to the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child – a landmark international agreement on the basic human rights of all children – UNICEF is featuring a series of stories about progress made and challenges that remain. Here is one of those stories.

JUBA, Southern Sudan, 3 August 2009 – "My mother is hungry," says Peter Yel, 16. "Food prices are too high." To ease the burden on his mother and five siblings in their village, Peter, a student in secondary school, has moved to Juba to live with his uncle.

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"Here in Southern Sudan, food is very expensive," Peter says. "When you go to the market and you want to buy food, you will be hungry because you cannot get the food."

Juba radio workshop

In June, Peter was one of the participants in a week-long radio production workshop for 10 young people from Juba.

UNICEF Radio – in partnership with UNICEF's ‘Back on Track’ programme on Education in Emergencies and Post-Crisis Transition, the UNICEF Southern Sudan Area Programme and Southern Sudan Radio – conducted the workshop with five boys and five girls chosen from local schools.

© UNICEF-NYHQ/2009/Kavanagh
Peter Yel interviews a fellow student, Philip Murad, at a week-long radio production workshop in Juba.

At the workshop, youths learned how to record, edit, write and produce a radio story of their own.

Investigating high prices

Peter's story explored the problem of hunger and high food prices in Southern Sudan. He visited Juba's famous Konya-Konya Market to find out why prices were so high.

In Konya-Konya’s busy alleyways, Peter met shopkeepers and shoppers, all of whom had their own opinions about food insecurity. One shopkeeper blamed the strengthening US dollar, while another blamed taxes on imported goods from nearby Uganda. Yet another interviewee blamed the lack of good transport.

One mother of seven, who was shopping for vegetables, said that when she goes to the market, the money she has isn't enough to buy all the food she needs for her children. She asked the Government of Southern Sudan to intervene.

"If they don't help us, we'll die of hunger," she told Peter.

Youth perspectives

Southern Sudan Radio broadcast Peter’s story on 16 June to commemorate the Day of the African Child.

UNICEF Radio and the ‘Back on Track’ programme will conduct a series of similar youth radio workshops in other countries in the coming months. The aim is to bring young people's perspectives into the debate around education in emergencies and post-crisis situations – and to commemorate the 20th anniversary of the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

Meanwhile, UNICEF's Southern Sudan Area Programme is working with Southern Sudan Radio to involve the new youth journalists in its programmes, empowering young people by giving them the chance to broadcast their voices throughout the region.




June 2009:
Peter Yel, 16, reports on high food prices in Southern Sudan.
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