Navigating Paths of Progress and Resilience in South Sudan

Dr. Samuel Doe ends his tenure as the Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Sudan in December 2023 after three years of service. During his farewell party on December 12, 2023, he shared his final reflections. Excerpts.

December 14, 2023

Dr. Samuel Doe (8th from left), joined by Ministers, top government officials and the academia during his farewell.

UNDP/South Sudan

As I conclude my tour of duty as the Resident Representative for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in South Sudan, I am filled with a mixture of emotions. When I first set foot in this resilient nation three years ago, South Sudan was grappling with challenges that tested the limits of human endurance. It was marred by conflict, facing complex humanitarian crises, caught in the trap of COVID-19 like the rest of the world, building a foundation of government, and yearning for a future that seemed elusive.

Today, as I look back on the journey we've traversed together, I am inspired by the transformation, resilience, and unwavering spirit of South Sudanese. To begin with, this is the longest spell of relative stability since independence and I congratulate H.E President Salva Kirr Mayardit, the signatories to the Revitalized Agreement for the Resolution of Conflict in South Sudan, and the citizenry for staying the course.

Dr. Samuel Doe joined by members of the Diplomatic Community, UN Country team, development stakeholders and his two deputies during his sendoff party.

UNDP/South Sudan

Amidst challenges, together we have laid a foundation for sustainable development, peace, and prosperity and I am inspired by the resilience and determination of the communities we serve. In the realm of peace and community cohesion, we witnessed the transformative power of citizens building peace through peace committees which enabled the youth, women and elders to shape their destiny.

Healthcare, another cornerstone of our endeavors, became a bridge to a healthier and more resilient South Sudan. From combating infectious diseases such as HIV and TB, supporting the country’s response and recovery from COVID-19, solarization of over 21 hospitals and health centers, installing oxygen plants, procuring, storage and distribution of  health supplies and laboratory reagents for HIV, TB, COVID-19, our collaborative efforts laid a foundation for a healthier south Sudan, and ensured access to HIV/AIDs and TB services in over 200 hospitals and health facilities across the country.

By fostering entrepreneurship, creating job opportunities, and supporting sustainable livelihoods, we endeavored to break the chains of poverty and unlocked the economic potential of this great nation. The markets we revitalized, businesses supported, and the youth we equipped with employable skills attest to the transformative power of local economic development.

With partners, we extended judicial, police, and customary dispute resolution mechanisms which eased access to justice and security. Building state institutions through human capital development has been our path to breaking the cycle of fragility. To that end, we injected Special Skills Experts in key government institutions comprising of the country’s best brains, heralding hope for a revitalized effective system of governance.

It was an honour to work under his leadership. Dr. Samuel Doe joined by UNDP staff during his farewell

UNDP/South Sudan

Yet, the journey is far from over. Many South Sudanese languish in insecurity and extreme multidimensional poverty. Food insecurity in a land of plenty is unacceptable and should be a national concern. South Sudan, like any nation in transition, is on a trajectory that demands continued dedication, collaboration, and visionary leadership. The road ahead may be challenging, but it is also filled with opportunities for stability, resilience, and sustainable development to thrive.

Crowned like a king. Staff dress Dr. Samuel Doe with traditional regalia to appreciate his leadership and contribution to development and peacebuilding in South Sudan.

UNDP/South Sudan

I would like to share two of my outstanding observations.

First, the only path to breaking the vicious cycle of protracted humanitarian crisis is sustainable development and not humanitarian assistance which can only perpetuate dependency. While humanitarian assistance has played a crucial role in alleviating immediate suffering, it is imperative that focus shifts to sustainable development assistance in areas such as education, civic consciousness, healthcare, and infrastructure development, economic empowerment, as well as agriculture and enterprise development. Most importantly, sustainable development should be local driven, leveraging local knowledge, resources, and capacities to spur growth.

Secondly, strategic engagement anchored on building partnerships, fostering trust, and empowering government and citizens at all levels of society is key to breaking the cycle of fragility and rebuilding effective governance in fragile and conflict settings.

Be like diamond precious. The Minister of Labour Hon. James Hoth Mai gave Dr. Samuel Doe a cow horn gift. A cow is a treasure and a source of wealth in South Sudan.

UNDP/South Sudan

At the heart of this engagement, is a recognition that stability and state efficacy are not achieved through isolation but through collaboration, interaction, discourse, active and deliberate involvement.  

Strategic engagement acknowledges the multidimensional nature of fragility and seeks comprehensive and well calibrated solutions. It places a premium on inclusivity, ensuring that diverse voices and perspectives are considered in the development of solutions, thereby laying the groundwork for sustainable peace. That is why UNDP has encouraged and supported spaces for engagement, reflection and discourse such as the Governors Forum, the Under Secretary Forum, and the DG’s Forum among others. These platforms have sowed seeds of accountable governance and inclusivity and empowered national and local government and communities to become architects of their destinies.


I extend my deepest gratitude to the Government, our esteemed partners, the UN family, and the warm and resilient people of South Sudan. It has been an honor and a privilege of my life to work alongside you, to witness your strength in the face of adversity, and to be a part of the collective efforts towards positive change.

This is not a good bye, but a see you soon as Dr. Samuel Doe embarks on a new work journey in the neighbouring Ethiopia.

UNDP/South Sudan

To the government officials at all levels – you won the victory for independence but you still have many more wars to fight including the war on poverty, hunger, inter-community hatred, polarization, corruption and institutional deficit.  I have no doubt that if you mobilize against these wars, you will win because you are Africa’s giants. 
To our development partners, thank you for your unwavering support and generosity. I am humbled by your trust in UNDP over the years. To my UNDP family, keep lifting one another as you serve for it is through our collective spirit that victory will be assured.

Thank you, South Sudan, for the privilege of serving alongside you. May the journey ahead be one of resilience, prosperity, and enduring peace.