A desperate and largely unknown humanitarian crisis is deteriorating in the Lake Chad Basin region of West Africa, forcing millions of people to flee their homes and leaving millions more in need of humanitarian assistance. Oxfam is providing life-saving support but help is urgently needed to prevent the crisis turning into a catastrophe.
Aid agencies urge donors to get priorities for newest nation right from the start
A coalition of 38 aid agencies today (6 September 2011) called on donors not to squander the opportunity to make a difference in the lives of the people of South Sudan, the world’s newest nation. The call came as new violence in Jonglei state increased emergency needs.
Donors are due to meet with Government of South Sudan officials over the next coming months to discuss development priorities. The country is one of the poorest in the world, with half the population living below the poverty line and, after decades of brutal war, is being built up almost from scratch.
In a joint report, the aid agencies, which include Oxfam, World Vision and the South Sudan Law Society, said it was vital that donors get their priorities for tackling poverty right from the start. The report outlines key priorities for donors working to improve lives in South Sudan.
Mary Kudla, Acting Country Director from Oxfam in South Sudan said:
“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. Today a 15-year-old girl 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. Donors need to get their policies on South Sudan right from the start.”
Crucially the report calls on donors to continue to provide emergency aid to the volatile nation and improve their understanding of conflict dynamics. Already this year, some 2, 611 people have been killed in violent conflicts, with tribal clashes in Jonglei State in mid-August resulting in the deaths of at least 340 people and displacement of 26, 800. A further 275,000 people have already been displaced by violence this year which has hindered much needed agriculture and crop cultivation.
Dong Samuel Luak, Secretary-General from the South Sudan Law Society said:
“South Sudan has a complex mix of emergency, recovery and development needs. The country remains vulnerable to natural disasters such as floods and drought and is still susceptible to conflicts. As the recent clashes in Jonglei show, people still need emergency aid. Sustained humanitarian funding is required, along with increased support for basic services and security and justice provision.
The report also calls on donors to build up the capacity of the government of South Sudan, so it is able to provide more and better services for its people including effective security and rule of law across the country. Government structures are extremely weak and being built up from almost nothing, especially outside the main towns. The agencies say that it will take time for South Sudan to assume full responsibility for the delivery of services. NGOs are currently responsible for the majority of basic service delivery in South Sudan, such as health, education and water and sanitation, and it’s vital that donors continue supporting these services as they support the government to build up its capacity to deliver these services itself.
The aid agencies also urged donors to support agriculture and income generating opportunities for the poorest communities. Currently only an estimated 4 per cent of arable land is cultivated, the production of livestock and fish is just a fraction of the potential and exports and trade between different regions of South Sudan are minimal.
Edwin Asante, Program Director from World Vision South Sudan said:
“In Western Equatoria mangoes lie rotting on the ground while traders import juice from neighboring Uganda. The local farmers’ association wants to buy a juicing machine, but they don’t have the money. Across the country, there is a complete absence of equipment and technology that would help South Sudanese farmers add value to their products. Wheat flour, maize flour, sugar and palm oil all available in abundance in their raw forms, are imported from neighboring countries. Donors could change this and tap into South Sudan’s untapped potential.”
The agencies also called on donors and the government to help build up social protection schemes to help the most vulnerable in South Sudan, such as cash transfers for those prone to food insecurity.
Notes to editors
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.
For more information, please contact:
Rebecca Wynn, UK, tel +44 (0) 1865 472530, mob + 44 (0) 7769 887139