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LOGOSEED Project Sparking Community Self-Mobilization in Local Development

By Judith Omondi

Every twice a month, the community of Kuajena Payam, Jur River County comes together to discuss new ideas on how to improve their common welfare.

The meetings, which began last year, have resulted thus far in the clearance of two community access roads; the establishment of a riverside vegetable farming project; and the repair of several broken water hand pumps. All this has been achieved only with labour and resources from the community.

“Every time they meet, whatever is decided is implemented. Every chief is tasked to inform his people about what is required,” Ango Anei, a local community mobilizer explains.

Kuajena, one of the six payams (administrative units) of Jur River County, is participating in the Local Governance and Service Delivery Project (LGSDP), a Government development project.

The project, which is locally as LOGOSEED, provides technical assistance to counties in planning, budgeting and oversight of local development programs. At the same time through its implementing partner, HealthNet TPO in the former Western Bahr el Ghazal (WBeG), the project has facilitated community mobilization in which local community development structures are organized and trained to participate in Local Government decision making processes.

The structures, known as Boma Development Committees (BDCs) and Payam Development Committees (PDCs) are going further to use their new found skills to mobilize the community’s own resources towards development, an outcome which is surprising to many given the long held belief of entrenched local dependency on humanitarian aid.

“Perceptions are changing,” says Stefano Wieu, the LOGOSEED State Coordinator for the former WBeG region. “This project has been one of the biggest eye-openers for this community, especially their participation in development process, a thing they regarded as somebody else’s job for years.”

According to Stefano, local communities have a lot of potential that the government can tap in order to compliment its own development initiatives; what they need is only leadership that can give them a sense of strategic direction. “If county authorities can take it as a lesson, they (the community) will be able to add more over what the Government provides.”

A good example is the Ajugo Pimary School of neighbouring Kangi payam, which has been selected to benefit from a two-classroom block through LOGOSEED funding. As they wait for the project to kick off, the local community has already mobilized funds that have been used, not only to clear land for the proposed construction site, but also to repair a broken borehole close to the school.

The community also has expressed commitment to contribute stones and timber for additional structures in the school. “We like to join hands,” comments Santo Oyoo Ochola, a BDC member of Ajugo boma. “The project has brought the classrooms. The stones and timber for teachers’ office will be our responsibility. We don’t want to be given everything without sweat.”

A similar initiative is taking place in the War Ayat village of Wanbai Payam, where community members have already collected piles of locally available rough stones and pledged timber to support the proposed LOGOSEED funded two-classroom block. “We were surprised by this project. They came to the community and wanted to know our needs,” states Akech Mayor Deng, a member of the local PDC. “We are now doing what we can do until the government is able to start working on the project.”

Women from Warayat community, Wanbai Payam, Jur River, gathering stoned for the construction of the primary school site

In Rocrocdong Payam, the local PDC has successfully lobbied an NGO to repair a broken borehole in their local health care facility, mobilized the community to clear the grass around it, and negotiated with its unpaid striking health workers to return to work.

The PDC is now thinking further about how the community can be mobilized to contribute towards the much-needed renovation of a part of the roof recently blown off by the wind and maintain a salary for the six healthcare workers.

“There are a lot of things happening. The communities have changed the way they do things,” says Augustine Nawuyo, the Project Monitoring and Information Officer in the region.

County authorities too have learned that communities can make a significant contribution to development. Pasquale Madut, the planning director of Jur River is one of them. “We as county authorities found it surprising to see communities engage in this process. Our people have been messed up by so many organizations just giving them food and water,” he says.

Pasquale, who recently accompanied the LOGOSEED team on field visits to local bomas was also impressed at the capacity to self mobilize. “We found that many hand pumps had been repaired,” he says. “Most community members told us that they had organized themselves before to repair the pumps.”

Judith Omondi -Community Engagement Specialist, Local Governance and Service Delivery Project

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