Polit Waar

In 2013, only two years after its independence, the promising future of the youngest country in Africa, the Republic of South Sudan, was compromised by political crises, struggles, and conflicts. Five years later, the country emerged from its civil war and embarked on the pathway of peace, reconciliation, and nation-building. Robert F. Kennedy Human Rights Defender Polit Waar decided he would not stay in the margin of history and that he would be a changemaker who would help his country to heal and flourish.

Polit’s commitment to a better future for the Republic of South Sudan was birthed by the pain of seeing his country, so rich in resources and potential, struggling to fulfill the promise of democracy and meet the essential needs of the population.

“The underdevelopment which is a result of the misuse of resources or underutilization of resources in South Sudan is a great factor that pushes me every day,” shared Polit. “Surprisingly, South Sudan is the third oil-producing country, but we have nothing to show for it.”

RFK Human Rights Defender Polit Waar understands that nation-scale changes start with grassroots initiatives. Fueled by his desire to serve his community, Polit founded the Community Oversight Committee (COC) in 2020, a community-based NGO that operates in South Sudan. The idea of the COC developed from an observation: in his village, Deng-Jok Payam, which is populated by 45,000 individuals, hardly any health service is provided. Before the intervention of the COC, inhabitants of the village went through a great ordeal to access a professional healthcare provider. Children, pregnant women, and elderly people were the most affected by the situation at the time, due to a lack of access to among others prenatal care and malaria treatment. Although the formation of COC was not a solution to all the problems facing the community, it brought great relief.

Polit describes the impact of the NGO as “one of the greatest things that ever happened to my people as it operates as a Primary Health Care Center (PHCC) and employs a clinical officer, two nurses, three midwives, and five supporting staff members.” Not only is the NGO meeting the needs of 45,000 people in terms of basic healthcare, but it is also providing employment and helping individuals to find sustainable sources of income to support their families and dreams.

Over the past several years, COC has gained credibility among international organizations in South Sudan and is funded by UNICEF and partners with Save the Children.

Polit Waar doesn’t intend to stop there. He believes that in addition to access to healthcare, the people of South Sudan need quality and affordable legal services. He also believes that beyond his community, it is important at the national level to reform, conceive, and implement policies that meet the needs of the citizens. To meet these needs, he has undertaken legal studies and other training. In December 2023, He graduated from the Human Rights and Democratization in Africa Master’s Program offered by the Center for Human Rights at the University of Pretoria. Before that, he undertook his undergraduate studies at the University of Nairobi and also joined the Kenya School of Law’s one-year Advocates Training Program (ATP) for pre-bar admission training, all of them in Kenya. With the knowledge and competencies acquired, he is committed to raising awareness and advocating for the reform of the governance and healthcare sectors. He is also leveraging influence to become a policymaker who will put his expertise to the service of these reforms, so long awaited by his fellow citizens.

The dream of RFK Human Rights Defender Polit Waar is to become a leader of his fellow South Sudanese. Inspired by Nelson Mandela, Polit emphasizes that “leadership positions should be used for the greater good of the few people alive, the majority who are not yet born and those who are no longer with us.”

Profile written by STTP Youth Advisory Board Member, Philippe Plagbe.