South Sudan became an independent nation on July 9 amid ongoing internal conflict and after decades of civil war. The Independence Day celebration was filled with much excitement and hope for the future. The challenge of developing the country continues, however, and many obstacles lie ahead.
Beyond the work needed to organize a new government that can provide the security and services needed by the South Sudanese people, significant human development challenges loom, not the least of which is building an adequate health care system.
Donald Steinberg is Deputy Administrator of the U.S. Agency for International Development.
“In South Sudan it is still a very difficult situation. You have endemic respiratory diseases, endemic viruses, a very high prevalence of malaria, as well. We are also seeing a number of problems with malnutrition... This is probably the area where there is the greatest individual need.”
South Sudan must also find ways to accommodate millions of “returnees,” people returning to the South from the North, into the existing infrastructure and social order. Steinberg said that there are a number of towns where the returning population is actually higher than the existing population. But the returnees also present a unique development opportunity, as they bring with them a variety of skills and an eagerness to contribute to their country.
The United States is working with a number of international actors to help the country meet these challenges, providing what officials call four "pillars" of assistance to South Sudan:
The first is developing the agricultural sector and recognizing the key role it must play in generating employment and food security. Another is helping develop the skills and talents needed to run essential government agencies, such as the health, education and finance ministries. The third is developing the private sector to create the best possible environment for trade and investment in South Sudan. And lastly, creating an international framework that will support coordinated foreign engagement.
The international community has shown great willingness to assist in South Sudan’s development. The United States offers its support to South Sudan as it strives to meet human development challenges and build a more peaceful and prosperous future for its people.