Regional civil servants support South Sudan in statebuilding efforts

Kenyan Civil Servants congratulated by the Country Director of IGAD and the Ambassadors of Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya
Kenyan Civil Servants congratulated by the Country Director of IGAD and the Ambassadors of Ethiopia, Uganda and Kenya

“IGAD has been proclaimed worldwide as a model of South-South cooperation” stated Honourable Angeth Acol De Dut, Undersecretary of Labour, Public Service & Human Resource Development, at the exit workshop for the first 42 Civil Service Support Officers (CSSOs) who completed two years of service in South Sudan.

Republic of South Sudan/Intergovernmental Authority on Development (RSS/IGAD) Initiative

The RSS/IGAD initiative is an innovative approach to institutional strengthening.  Under the Initiative, 199 highly skilled and experienced public servants are deployed for two years from IGAD Member states, Ethiopia, Kenya and Uganda to 22 key Government ministries and commissions at the central, state, and county levels.  H.E. Fre Tesfamichael Tesfatsion, Ambassador from the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia explained their commitment, stating “As members of IGAD we need to develop together in peace and prosperity.”

RSS/IGAD Initiative

  • 199 highly skilled and experienced public servants are deployed for two years from IGAD Member states to 22 key Government ministries and commissions at the central, state, and county levels.
  • These Civil Service Support Officers provide support to assist the Government to deliver services at all levels in the areas of, public administration, financial management, human resources, rule of law, economic development and medicine.

With support from UNDP, these CSSOs are “twinned” with South Sudanese civil servants to ensure the direct transfer of skills and on-the-job mentoring.  This strategy goes beyond enhancing the skills of individuals, it aims to build the organizational systems of Government and create an environment where policy can be effectively implemented. 

Tangible Results

Deployed across the ten states of South Sudan these Civil Service Support Officers provide support to assist the Government to deliver services at all levels in the areas of, public administration, financial management, human resources, rule of law, economic development and medicine. Mr. Lizunela Duncan Ambembo, Head of the Kenyan Chapter of CSSOs explained that they “were all drawn from different specializations and were already placed in ministries helping building the nation when independence was declared on 9 July 2011.”  The first 42 CSSOs were deployed in 15 institutions, including seven hospitals throughout the country.  Honourable Kwong Danhier Gatluak, Deputy Minister of Labour, Public Service & Human Resource Development acknowledged their contribution, stating “During the bombing in Bentiu, you soldiered on and continued serving the people in the hospital.” H.E. Hanne-Marie Kaarstad, Ambassador from the Kingdom of Norway explained how the efforts by the CSSOs contributed to improved policies, better service delivery and highlighted that these results were based on positive feedback not just from the Government of South Sudan, but also from an independent team of researchers who evaluated the programme. H.E. Cleland Leshore, Ambassador from the Republic of Kenya emphasized that “this initiative takes a strategic and long-term perspective to capacity building” by responding to skills shortages.  Mr. Balázs Horváth, Country Director, UNDP stated “This innovative initiative of capacity building through mentoring and coaching has positively impacted the lives of countless people you may never meet.   Many successes have been recorded in the institutions that you have been working in, and much continues to happen as a result of your efforts and those of your colleagues.”

Moving Forward

Mr. Alex Bigira, Second Secretary, Embassy of the Republic of Uganda, underscored how this first group of CSSOs’ experiences helped to inform and better structure the programme for future CSSOs as well as would prove to be a learning experience for the CSSOs once they return home, stating “The legacy you leave behind will demonstrate your success and it will also translate into your future work.” 

This initiative has not only been a discussed and researched topic in development circles as a model of South-South cooperation but also will help guide future efforts.  Mr. Mohammed Abdel Rahman, Country Director, IGAD explained how the work of these civil servants has laid important groundwork for future efforts as it has informed the African Union capacity building initiative which will seek to deploy 1,000 technical experts from the continent throughout South Sudan to support skills transfer and development, but also provides a platform for discussion on engaging the Diaspora.