September 15, 2011
“Independence in South Sudan has come as the result of a long struggle. The country is now free, but destroyed. War has devastated the south, and nothing has been developed – everything must be built from scratch.”
A strong message delivered by Dr. Francis G. Nazario, Head of the Government of South Sudan Mission in Europe, at a recent event at the European Parliament (EP), and a sobering reminder of the tremendous challenges the country faces just two months after independence.
The new Republic of South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world, with half the population living below the poverty line. The country is also vulnerable to conflict and climactic shock, last year alone more than 220,000 people were displaced due to conflict and more than 100,00 were affected by floods. In the wake of brutal war and in the context of crippling underdevelopment, the South Sudanese government is unable to deliver basic services like health and access to water. “Everything is a priority” but ensuring food security and managing the mass influx of returnees are the most urgent concerns, said Dr. Nazario.
In a new and timely report, Getting it Right from the Start: Aid priorities in the new Republic of South Sudan, Oxfam, together with a group of 37 leading aid agencies, urges the EU Institutions and member states to prevent a funding gap as they shift from the provision of short-term humanitarian assistance to long-term development aid.
“South Sudan will require humanitarian assistance for the foreseeable future, partners must maintain the capacity to stay engaged” asserted Mr. E Asante, Programme Director of World Vision South Sudan, also speaking at the EP event, “and funding must be targeted at the opportunities that are opened up by relief programmes for sustained development”. In the aftermath of independence, a shift towards reconstruction must not come at the cost of attention to immediate humanitarian needs.
The report also calls on the EU and the rest of the international community to provide predictable funds for implementing agencies like NGOs, so that these are able to continue to deliver basic services and ensure a fair distribution of assistance across the country. It is important, stated Ms. A. Koulaimah, from the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection department (ECHO), that the government of South Sudan does not rush to take responsibility for everything at once as this could “result in a dynamic not conducive to development”.
Money must also be channelled to strengthen the capacity of civil society in South Sudan if long term development is to be promoted. For Mr. E. Asante “the international community and NGOs have a strong role to play in building a civil society able to request proper funding and initiatives and to keep the government and donors accountable”.
As pointed out by MEP Mariya Nedelcheva, who hosted the event, “the enthusiasm shown by the South Sudanese people must lead to the full participation of all Sudanese in building their country. Civil society is crucial”.Oxfam International EU Advocacy