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Barsabas Efuk Joseph Ojiok – Community Liaison Assistant, United Nations Mission in South Sudan

I started my MSc Food Security and Development in September 2017. After graduating from the School of Agriculture, Policy and Development in September 2018, I am able to continue working as Community Liaison Assistant for the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS).

My department's, Civil Affairs, main objective is the protection of civilians. It also covers a range of programs which include peace building and conflict mitigation, dialogues, mediation, reconciliation and capacity building for the youth.

My work is multifaceted. I liaise with the government and the local community to ensure that the concerns and perceptions of the population are communicated effectively and in a transparent manner. I act as a language and cultural interface, engaging with both the civilian population and government in issues of mutual concern and cooperation. This involves planning, coordination and conducting community workshops that focus on conflict resolution and mitigation, dialogues and sports for peace activities.

Part of my work also includes the provision of local level facilitative support to UNMISS uninformed component and civilian substantive components based on the needs that they want to communicate.

I also support the activities of Dumudang agricultural Farm based in Jebel LADU. I provide consultancy work to the farm and the projects they are implementing.

I greatly enjoy being able to affect people's lives positively, being able to inspire others is something that I am hugely passionate about. I would like to see a society where everyone is free and dependent on their skills and knowledge. When I see this in my community, I will know I have made a positive change. Working with children, women, and youth on social issues through traditional mechanisms is the part of my job that I enjoy the most.

I chose to study at the University of Reading based on the fast response of Admission Staff as well as the diversity of the School. When looking on the website, I saw people from all different backgrounds represented in every activity.

In the future I hope to be in a senior leadership position in the field of food security within or outside the United Nations and addressing pressing issues in the field of food security.I believe that the content that I learnt as part of my programme at Reading will help me to achieve this. It has helped me to broaden my understanding of Food Security in which I now know about the entire food system and the role of NGO's in this issue, especially those dealing with humanitarian response and safety net. The use of case studies throughout my course helped me to understand why Africa and the rest of the global south still remain food insecure.