South Sudan: Prospects for Peace and Development - International Development Committee Contents

1  Introduction

1. The Republic of South Sudan gained independence from the Republic of Sudan on 9 July 2011. It was a day of celebration for the South Sudanese who had fought two long civil wars with the north since 1955 and had voted overwhelmingly—by 98.83%—for independence in January 2011. Tens of thousands watched the new country's flag raised at an independence ceremony in Juba. A host of international dignitaries, including the President of Sudan Omar al-Bashir, United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon and the British Foreign Secretary the Rt Hon William Hague MP, watched the events. Goodwill for the new country from the international community was, and remains, huge. It was clear from our visit to South Sudan five months later that a strong sense of optimism still prevailed across the country. Many South Sudanese we spoke to were hopeful about the future. Posters and billboards confidently proclaimed the ambitions of the young republic.

2. Yet, as the initial euphoria of independence dies down, it is clear that South Sudan faces a range of significant and complex challenges:

  • The new country has some of the worst social indicators in the world, particularly in the health and education sectors.
  • Years of conflict have left South Sudanese society highly militarised, and fragmented, with frequent outbreaks of internal violence.
  • Up to 40% of government expenditure is defence-related, primarily due to the large number of ex-soldiers on the payroll, and demobilisation will be difficult.
  • The economy is unhealthily dependent on a single resource: oil represents 98% of government income, yet production is expected to decline rapidly from the middle of the decade in the absence of new discoveries.
  • Government capacity at the national, regional and local levels is extremely limited, corruption is widespread, and the new country is heavily reliant on international donors and Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) to provide services for the population.
  • Relations between Juba and Khartoum are tense, with each side accusing the other of supporting rebel groups in its territory and ongoing violence in Sudan's Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile state could spill over into war.

3. The Department for International Development (DFID) has quickly established and scaled up a full office in Juba. DFID has developed a four-year development and humanitarian aid programme for South Sudan, amounting to some £360 million. This makes South Sudan one of the largest recipients of UK bilateral aid.

4. We announced our inquiry in September 2011 to examine the prospects of peace and development in South Sudan, with a particular focus on DFID's evolving programme of aid there.[1] We received written evidence from 22 organisations and individuals. We held two oral evidence sessions in January and February 2012 with NGOs, academics, representatives of the South Sudanese Church and Mr Stephen O' Brien MP, DFID Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, alongside his senior officials. We are grateful for all those who contributed evidence, both written and oral.

5. We visited South Sudan from 5 to 10 December 2011 to see first-hand the challenges facing the country and how DFID intended to spend its money. A sub-group of the Committee travelled first to Khartoum to hear the perspective of the north Sudanese on issues such as oil, returnees and conflict in border regions. In Juba we held meetings with government ministers and officials, including President Salva Kiir Mayardit, UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) officials, including the UN Special Representative of the Secretary General, Hilde Johnson, and representatives of other international donors, NGOs, the Sudan Council of Churches, and the private sector. Two sub-groups of the Committee visited Eastern Equatoria and Lakes states respectively to see DFID and EU-funded projects and to meet state and county level politicians and local NGOs. We wish to thank all those who helped facilitate our visit.

1   Our terms of reference were to examine: the extent of humanitarian need, especially among returning South Sudanese and those displaced by fighting in Abyei and Southern Kordofan, and any problems with humanitarian access; the provision of basic services, essential infrastructure and DFID's efforts to reduce extreme poverty and promote sustainable livelihoods; how DFID can help to improve governance, including at the county and local level; the management of oil and oil revenues for development; the role of the UN development and humanitarian organisations, the World Bank, other bilateral donors and the extent of coordination and leadership between them; the security situation including the effectiveness of the UN peacekeeping force, UNMISS, and the prospects for a non-militarised border; and the implications of potential membership of the Commonwealth and the East African Community. Back

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Prepared 12 April 2012