Oxfam Australia and World Vision Australia today urged the Federal Government to support the recommendations of a new joint-agency report on South Sudan, to ensure the people of the world’s newest nation have a hopeful future.
The report, called Getting it Right from the Start: Priorities for Action in the New Republic of South Sudan, identifies priority areas in South Sudan that donors should support, based on the experience of 38 aid agencies that work directly with communities on the ground.
The report comes ahead of the upcoming South Sudan donor conference in Washington DC, where Government of South Sudan officials will meet with donors to discuss development priorities for the world’s newest nation.
The Australian Government has publicly stated its long-term commitment to South Sudan. Since 2004, it has provided $136 million to Sudan, making the country the second largest recipient of Australian humanitarian and development assistance in Africa.
Australia is one of the many countries that committed some funding ahead of South Sudan’s independence in July 2011. The upcoming donor conference is expected to generate a far more detailed discussion of the country’s key development needs and priorities, as well as further funding commitments from donors.
The report identifies ten key priority areas for action, including calling on donors to continue to provide emergency aid, as well as development assistance. It also recommends that donors improve their understanding of ongoing conflict within the country, and increase support for agriculture and income generating opportunities for the poorest communities.
The report says it is vital that donors continue to support NGO services as well as helping the government to build up its capacity to provide more and better services for its people, as government structures remain extremely weak especially outside the main towns.
Oxfam Australia Africa Regional Manager Andrew Hartwich said it was vital that all donors get their priorities for tackling poverty right from the start.
“The war is over, and the struggle for independence achieved, but the struggle to ensure peace and safety for all and win the battle against extreme poverty in South Sudan is only just beginning,” Mr Hartwich said.
“Today a teenage girl in South Sudan is more likely to die in childbirth than finish school, and people are still being displaced from their homes due to new violence. The excitement following the birth of a nation is hard to overstate, but the disillusionment following a failure to deliver change for the poorest would be equally severe.”
World Vision South Sudan Program Director Edwin Asante said a lack of equipment and technology as well as conflict has prevented South Sudan from developing its agricultural industry potential.
“Most parts of South Sudan are fertile, but currently only an estimated four per cent of arable land in the country is cultivated,” Mr Asante said.
“South Sudan has the potential to produce maize, sorghum, rice and many other food and cash crops for both local consumption and export. However, farmers do not currently have the resources to process these products or have access to markets. Therefore, most of Sudan’s food is imported from neighbouring countries.
“With the support of donors and the international community in the right places, the Government of South Sudan could change this and not only feed its people, but also develop South Sudan’s untapped export potential.”
South Sudan is currently one of the poorest countries in the world, with half the population living below the poverty line. After decades of conflict, the country is now being built up almost from scratch.
A copy of the report can be downloaded here. For more information please contact Oxfam Australia Media Coordinator Sunita Bose on 0407 555 960 or World Vision Australia Media Officer Sacha Myers on 0457 926 018.
Aid agencies that have signed up to the report are: Action Against Hunger, ACTED, ADRA South Sudan, American Refugee Committee, Association for Aid and Relief, Japan, AVSI, CARE, Caritas Luxembourg and Switzerland, CHF International, Cordaid, DanChurchAid, Danish Refugee Council, GOAL Ireland, Handicap International, HealthNet TPO, Humane Development Council, International Aid Services, ICCO, International Medical Corps, International Rescue Committee, JEN, Malaria Consortium, Malteser International, Medair, Mennonite Central Committee, Mercy Corps, Merlin, Mission Aviation Fellowship International, Norwegian Refugee Council, Oxfam, Pact, Plan South Sudan, Population Services International, Relief International, Saferworld, Save the Children, South Sudan Law Society, and World Vision.