Home | Comment & Analysis    Friday 11 September 2009

Rural development, a key to reduce poverty in South Sudan


By Khorhok Gar

September 10, 2009 — Even though the government of south Sudan has put so much effort on development projects that improve living standards and access to basic needs, such as water, shelter, food, health care and education, most people still live in a shadow of fear of starvation due to a multitude of harsh experiences they went through has a result of war and couldn’t help themselves with all abandoned resources we had in Southern Sudan.

The 21 years of civil war in Sudan has destroyed socio-economic of Southern Sudan, making almost the entire population of the region depends on food reliefs, even after the return of peace. Sudan is the largest country in Africa. Its area landmass is almost 1.2 million square miles. The land is very fertile and good for growing cash crops. With this huge potential in agriculture, South Sudanese farmers are still cultivating less than one percent of arable land. Thus making the region imported all the fresh foods and grain from neighboring countries and that food sometimes got rotten before they even reach Juba. As a result, hunger remains a major threat to venerable groups, especially children, women, elderly and disable person. Therefore, the government of South Sudan still faces significant challenges ahead and need to take some difficult policies decisions to reduce extreme poverty level in the region.

In fact, there are many aspects that are associated with extreme poverty in South Sudan. One of them is lack of roads that connects rural communities and urban centers. Many families who could have able to feed their family by selling their cows/goats are not able to do so, because they don’t have access to the market during rainy season. With improvement of roads infrastructures in the region, it will create an environment in which people can develop their full potential and lead a productive and creative life accorded with their needs and interest. And for government to achieve these goals, security and technical know-how people are key to success of such a program.

While we are anxious to see these programs initiated by the government, we also need to be aware that government cannot do it alone without help from ordinary people. So it’s importance for people of South Sudan to devote their time and energy on programs that are creating self-reliance and reduces hunger among rural communities. This can be done by initiating a national action plan that includes, but not limit to, improvement of roads infrastructures, cooperative societies, outlawing polygamy, and introduction of modern farming. These programs can reduce level of poverty in the region and it will make South Sudan one of the most prosper state in Africa.

The modernization of agriculture sector: There are many companies around the world who are willing to invest in agriculture sector if there is stability in the country. With current investment acts passed by South Sudan Legislative Assembly, farmer has chance to make good use of their land by leasing it to commercial farmers, in return commercial farmers will build roads, clinics and schools and at the same time they can creates jobs for local population beside paying taxes to government. With this plan in place both farmers and the government are benefiting from this dealt. People who are otherwise couldn’t have works will be employed in farm field and will be able to support their families without government assistant.

Second, polygamy is one of social policy that keeping people in poverty cycle. Right now, a Minister in the government of South Sudan is making around $75,000 to $100,000 a year about $5000 a month. But, yet most ministers remain in poverty line because they have many mouths to feed. And the reason for that is because people are married many wives, without putting into consideration the consequences of raising a large family. It’s become custom for many South Sudanese men whenever one get promoted they tend to marries a new bride, instead to invest in his children’s future and having better life with his family.

Therefore, we should be very mindful for the fact that poverty and insecurity are interrelated. Many Africa civil wars are associated with lack of opportunity and imbalance developments. For that reason, we need to avoid other countries’ past mistakes by reducing the level of corruption, poverty, promote integrity and good governance in Southern Sudan.

The author is based in Bor, Jonglei state. He can be reach at khorhok@hotmail.com

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  • 11 September 2009 17:36, by P Thon Aleu

    This a good writing brother; Just to engage oursevles in basic production will save our region from collapse and being called a weak state if independence comes.

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  • 12 September 2009 17:40, by west bor

    If we had many people like Gar who point out the problems that facing our new nation. I think our new nation would be better when ordinary people take a fight to overcome poverty and insecurty. however, the question still remain. how can they fight insecurity in South Sudan? One thing that people would do is to work together with the goverment to single out these criminals in theri community. On the goverment side, they need to put many resouces to construct the roads to connect rural areas to the main town so that we share our resources to win a war against the poverty and insecurity.

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  • 14 September 2009 17:58, by British Stephen

    This is an interesting article. However, what is the attitude of the South Sudanese (government, people) to foreign investors? As a British businessman, can I establish an agricultural or other business in the Juba region? Will this be easy? Will I encounter high levels of corruption? Will I find an experienced workforce? What is the banking sector like? Can I own land? Can I find good local business partners?

    Why should I invest in South Sudan and not in the rest of East Africa (perhaps Rwanda, which I visited last year)? South Sudan is regarded as ’high risk’ for so many reasons.

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