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

Conclusions and recommendations

The humanitarian situation

1.  Failure to reach agreement on the outstanding matters from the Comprehensive Peace Agreement process—most notably oil-revenue sharing, border demarcation and the status of the disputed border region of Abyei—threaten the prospects for peace and development within South Sudan's short lifetime as an independent nation. We are deeply concerned at the prospect of a humanitarian crisis given the loss of South Sudan's oil revenue, combined with the increasing number of returnees and refugees arriving in the country and ongoing inter-tribal violence. (Paragraph 21)

2.  The decision by the Government of South Sudan (GRSS) to halt production on all its oilfields, despite undoubted provocation from Sudan, has potentially grave economic and humanitarian consequences for the South Sudanese population. It could also precipitate instability in the country. The UK Government must continue to press Khartoum and Juba to seek an equitable and sustainable agreement on the export of oil through Sudan's pipelines. We do not consider there to be any realistic alternative in the next few critical years. It must also be made clear that the UK, and other donors, cannot bankroll South Sudan through this austerity period. (Paragraph 22)

3.  We are concerned at the potentially unclear legal status of hundreds of thousands of people of South Sudanese origin living in the north. The UK Government must continue to press Khartoum and Juba to find a resolution to ensure that those who wish to move to South Sudan can do so safely, while those who prefer to remain in the north can have their legal status clarified. Many returnees to South Sudan are living in extremely difficult circumstances and DFID should divert additional resources to assist them if required. (Paragraph 23)

4.  DFID is operating in a difficult and fast-changing environment. It has already had to re-focus its development programme as a result of the pressures created by the oil shut-down. Given the mounting humanitarian challenges, we recognise that the Department may need to continue to modify its development plans and focus to a greater extent on humanitarian assistance. The key priority in South Sudan must be to prevent a humanitarian crisis. But, if the country is to develop, it will need to invest in health, education and infrastructure. (Paragraph 24)

DFID's South Sudan Office

5.  The establishment of a joint DFID and Foreign and Commonwealth Office operation in South Sudan—with DFID in the lead—is a welcome innovation and an encouraging example of joined-up government. It is early days but the signs are that the joint office is working well. The Government should seek to adopt a similar model in overseas counties where development assistance is central to wider UK foreign policy objectives. (Paragraph 27)

DFID's Operational Plan 2011-15

6.  When allocating funds for its development projects, DFID should as far as possible seek to strengthen and complement the limited internal capacity that already exists within South Sudan. We have some concerns that DFID's decision to fund the United Nations rather than the Episcopal Church of Sudan to deliver its school construction programme misses an opportunity to do so. (Paragraph 34)

7.  Given its cost and importance, we recommend that the Independent Commission for Aid Impact (ICAI) review the effectiveness and value-for-money of the Health Pooled Fund at a suitable moment in the future. (Paragraph 36)

8.  We welcome DFID's commitment to significantly increase funds to tackle neglected tropical diseases (NTDs) in the developing world. Given that several NTDs are endemic in South Sudan, DFID must ensure that South Sudan receives an adequate share of this money. (Paragraph 37)

9.  The improvement of equality of girls and women is crucial if South Sudan is to prosper, socially and economically, over the next generation. We strongly endorse the emphasis that DFID has placed on girls and women in its programme. While we recognise the current pressures and uncertainties surrounding DFID's programme, we urge the Department to maintain these programmes as a priority. (Paragraph 41)

10.  It is unsustainable for 40% of the Government of South Sudan (GRSS)'s budget to be spent on defence. Once the economic situation in South Sudan has become more stable, DFID should re-prioritise its support to reduce the size of the South Sudanese army and reintegrate ex-soldiers back into the community. This presents a considerable challenge given the high levels of unemployment and soldiers' lack of skills, but is important if the GRSS is to begin providing basic services for the population. (Paragraph 44)

11.  South Sudan is currently a society built on the work of NGOs and international donors. This cannot be sustainable. Building the capacity of the administration in South Sudan—at all levels—will take time but is essential if the new country is to become less dependent on others. DFID's capacity-building support to date has been largely focussed on Ministries and personnel in Juba. This work appears to have been effective and is highly valued by the GRSS. Given that basic services are primarily delivered at the state or local level, DFID must ensure that it strikes a balance between supporting governance in Juba and other levels of administration. (Paragraph 48)

12.  We welcome the intention within some DFID's projects, such as the Health Pooled Fund, to build the capacity of the South Sudanese Government, so that the government can gradually take primary responsibility for the delivery of basic services. Although the oil shut-down has disrupted some of these plans, DFID must ensure it resumes them once the economic situation in South Sudan becomes more stable. DFID should use its leverage and influence to persuade other key donors to integrate capacity-building support within their own development projects. (Paragraph 49)

13.  It should not only be the responsibility of the key international donors to build the capacity of the South Sudanese Government. Neighbouring countries in the region, such as Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia, can also play a valuable role, for instance through providing training to civil servants. DFID, alongside other donors, should seek to engage South Sudan's neighbours in this important work. (Paragraph 50)

14.  The expansion of the private sector in South Sudan—particularly in agriculture—will be crucial if the country is to diversify its economy and reduce dependence on oil in the medium term. We welcome DFID's emphasis in its 2011-15 programme to encourage the growth of the private sector. We urge it to continue to do so, with a particular focus on agriculture and the provision of basic infrastructure. The current oil crisis demonstrates that South Sudan's overwhelming economic reliance on oil is unsustainable. (Paragraph 54)

15.  Private sector investment in South Sudan is complicated by legal, land access and security issues. But we believe the country also presents real commercial opportunities. We recommend that CDC explore the potential for investment opportunities in South Sudan. This would tally with its broader aim of seeking greater involvement in frontier markets. (Paragraph 55)

16.  We commend DFID's speed and determination to establish and scale up its operation—and to put together a good team—in such a difficult working environment. DFID's actions over the past year have demonstrated that the UK is an enthusiastic and committed ally of the new independent South Sudan. (Paragraph 57)

17.   We recommend that the Department provide us with an annual update, for the remainder of the Parliament, on progress in delivering its South Sudan programme. This should include an analysis of DFID's work to build the capacity of government structures to enable the handover of basic service provision. (Paragraph 58)

Key multilateral donors

18.  It is hugely disappointing that the effectiveness of UK taxpayers' money has been diminished through the World Bank's problems in administering the Multi-Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) in Southern Sudan. We recognise, however, that the MDTF has achieved some positive results. Given DFID's record in Southern Sudan as an effective donor and as leader of the successful Basic Services Fund, we have reservations about the extent to which DFID should continue to channel bilateral aid through the World Bank in South Sudan. We believe that the Secretary of State for International Development should ask the UK's Executive Director to press for the Bank's board to consider the problems experienced by the MDTF and how to overcome them. (Paragraph 72)

19.  The UN Development Programme (UNDP) has a mixed record in South Sudan. The UNDP's administration of the Common Humanitarian Fund hindered the work of some NGOs in Southern Sudan, although the Fund is now operating better. DFID will continue to channel money through the UNDP on a variety of projects and it must monitor how effectively this money is spent. We are also concerned that the UNDP is overstretched and seeking involvement in too many sectors. (Paragraph 73)

20.  We urge the Government to press the EU authorities to scale up their office in Juba as a matter of priority. We are concerned that the EU's slow speed in recruiting staff in South Sudan may delay the delivery of important development projects on the ground and hinder the combined development and humanitarian efforts of the international donor community. (Paragraph 74)

Donor co-ordination

21.  It is vital that DFID, and other international donors, effectively co-ordinate their work in South Sudan, not least because of the limited capacity of the state, the scale of development needs, and the huge sums of money involved. Some mechanisms are in place—such as the Joint Donor Office and the various pooled donor funds—to facilitate co-ordination, and these are working in practice to some extent. We are pleased that DFID is co-operating with other key bilateral and multilateral donors, to ensure its programme complements, rather than duplicates, those of others. We urge the Department to continue this approach. (Paragraph 77)

22.  The Department, alongside other donors, should also provide the GRSS with the necessary technical support and advice to ensure that the Government can take a lead strategic role in co-ordinating the plans of donors. (Paragraph 78)

United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS)

23.  Given the range of security challenges in South Sudan—and the ineffectiveness of the country's army and police force—it is essential that the international community provides a robust peacekeeping force. The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS), however, has had a difficult beginning. It appears to lack the air assets it requires for a country of this size. It has been slow to produce a peacebuilding strategy. We are concerned that its mandate is too broad and unrealistic. (Paragraph 85)

24.  Costing almost half a billion pounds in its first year—and still under-capacity—UNMISS is also a hugely expensive operation. It costs the UK taxpayer two thirds of DFID's annual development and humanitarian budget for South Sudan. UNMISS does not currently provide value-for-money and its current resources have not been deployed most effectively. The UK Government should press the UN for an urgent review of UNMISS's cost, mandate, assets and operations, including the deployment of troops. (Paragraph 86)

25.  In the medium-term, the aim must be for the Government of South Sudan (GRSS), army and police to take on primary responsibility for internal security in South Sudan and for dependence on UNMISS to be reduced. This will require technical assistance, including assistance to the military (which will not count as Official Development Assistance). The Department should work alongside the United States, UNMISS and the GRSS to produce a strategy to enable this transition to take place. (Paragraph 87)

The Church's peacebuilding and mediation role

26.  It will clearly take time to build the capacity of the GRSS, army and police to take on primary responsibility for peacekeeping and mediation. In the meantime, DFID must not disregard the constructive role that the Sudan Council of Churches can play in this area. (Paragraph 90)

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Prepared 12 April 2012