United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)
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In Maiwut, a county in South Sudan’s Upper Nile state, the delicious aroma of freshly baked goods emanates from a building, attracting passersby.

In traditional ovens, busy men and women bustle through the process of making bread and mandazi, a sweet offering often referred to as a fried African doughnut.

Some are responsible for preparing the dough, others for baking the bread, and a third group transports delectable items to the market for selling.

This bakery – a joint skill-building initiative by the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) and Save a Life International, an international nongovernmental organization, supports 60 people—30 men and women—some of whom have returned to Maiwut from Gambella refugee camp in Ethiopia.

The endeavour aims to ameliorate some continuing challenges such as lack of healthcare facilities, limited access to education, and negligible employment opportunities that affect residents and returning populations alike.

According to beneficiaries, the impact has been tangible.

“I was idle at home and finding it extremely difficult to make ends meet,” revealed Nyaruot Tongyik, one of the women working at the bakery.

“But now, I’m gainfully employed and make enough money to support my family. It’s been extremely good for my mental health and enabled me to educate my four children. Someday, I hope to start my own business,” she added with a smile.

For Nyachua Bim, the sole provider for her family, and a recent returnee to Maiwut, the bakery means a lot.

“Last year, I returned to Maiwut with my children, but I found it near impossible to get a job. But thanks to this initiative by our international friends, breadmaking is my new passion and my primary source of income,” she explained, beaming.

The smells and tastes of freshly baked bread in the market have also energized people during their regular grocery runs.

“I love this bread! It's so tasty. I always arrive at the market before 4 p.m. because they sell out within a few minutes,’ says Chuol, a resident of Maiwut town.

James Mwangi, Executive Director of Save A Life International, recounts training this dedicated group of new bakers for two months.

“Last year while actioning a similar project in Melut, we discovered that many parts of Upper Nile state were experiencing food shortages, including that of staple items such as bread. That’s when we partnered with UNMISS and provided intensive training here in Maiwut to this committed group. It’s very rewarding to see them thrive,” he reminisced.

Both individual households and restaurants are regular clients for these baked delights, a fact that gives the group confidence to continue their business, though the initial UNMISS funding for two months has now ended.

“I sell bread in Maiwut's market and enjoy the interaction with people who now approach us for bread-making training because there’s a very high demand for what we make in the market. I am optimistic that we will be a self-sustaining business,” stated Nyadieng Jock, another baker.

Picking up on the last point, Alfred Orono Orono, Head of the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Field Office in Upper Nile, emphasizes the need for communities to be at peace to achieve economic stability.

“UNMISS allocated resources to create this business, but ultimately it is community-owned. Each member plays a crucial role, making the project successful and sustainable,” he averred.

The bakery is part of the UNMISS Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) programme administered by the Protection, Transition and Reintegration Section that seeks to action small-scale, low-budget interventions to fill urgent public needs.

Distributed by APO Group on behalf of United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

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