I did this research paper for my World Food and Society class. After researching I have become quite passionate about Southern Sudan so I thought I would post it here:
The focus of this research paper is The Republic of South Sudan. This country is settled in the east central region of Africa with its capital being Juba. According to statistics from the Central Intelligence Agency as of July 2013 the population stands at 11,090,104 (Africa). As you can see from the map above the country is bordered by the countries of Uganda, Kenya, The Democratic Republic of The Congo, Ethiopia, The Central African Republic, and The Republic of Sudan to the North. The CIA reports that despite being one of the poorest countries on earth, the land has an abundance of “hydropower, fertile agricultural land, gold, diamonds, petroleum, hardwoods, limestone, iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, silver” (Africa).
Geographically South Sudan consists of a mix of vast fertile grasslands, wet and humid tropical forests, and one of the world’s largest wetlands in the form of swamps. The White Nile stretches across the country and contributes to these swamps. Sudan contains a vast array of exotic animal life from monkeys to buffalo, elephants and lions, giraffes, chimpanzees, hogs, and numerous different species of antelope and elk. In the south east region alone resides a migration of over 1 million antelope.
The Climate in South Sudan is tropical with high humidity resembling countries that lie along the equator. The country hardly has winter at all with temperatures ranging from 68-86 F. Summer temperatures fluctuate between 73-98 F. Humidity is drastically reduced during the dry season.
The economy of South Sudan is heavily dependent on agriculture, exportation of timber internationally, and petroleum. According to the World Bank GDP for 2012 stood at $9.337 billion (Sudan). Much of the population survives on sustenance farming by producing “sorghum, maize, rice, millet, wheat, gum arabic, sugarcane, mangoes, papayas, bananas, sweet potatoes, sunflower, cotton, sesame, cassava (manioc), beans, peanuts; cattle, sheep” (Africa).
The Republic of South Sudan has the number one highest maternal mortality rate in the world consisting of 2,054 deaths/100,000 live births, and ranks number 18 worldwide with the Infant mortality rate at a total of 69.97 deaths/1,000 live births. Major infectious diseases remain very high with food and waterborne diseases consisting of “bacterial and protozoal diarrhea, hepatitis A and E, and typhoid fever” Vectorborne diseases include “malaria, dengue fever, trypanosomiasis-Gambiense” (Africa).
South Sudan has a vasy array of ethic groups consisting of “Dinka, Kakwa, Bari, Azande, Shilluk, Kuku, Murle, Mandari, Didinga, Ndogo, Bviri, Lndi, Anuak, Bongo, Lango, Dungotona, Acholi” and languages being “English (official), Arabic (includes Juba and Sudanese variants) (official), regional languages include Dinka, Nuer, Bari, Zande, Shilluk” (Africa). Census data on religion is very conflicting with some statistics claiming the majority of the population consisting of various forms of Christianity, while other stats claim a much lower percentage. The rest of the religious affiliation is a mix of indigenous beliefs mainly being animist, with an Islamic minority.
In order to understand the current situation in The Republic of South Sudan you have to understand its history. What makes this country unique is that it is currently the youngest on Earth having achieved its independence from the North after the longest civil war in Africa’s history. According to International Affairs Fellow Payton Knoft writing for the Council On Foreign Relations, the approximate estimation was a “twenty-two-year civil war that cost the lives of an estimated four million southern Sudanese.” (Knopf). Many millions more were displaced and became refugees in neighboring countries.
The history of both North and South Sudan as a whole is a very complicated one. The story involves the region being under Egyptian rule from the Muhammad Ali Dynasty until achieving independence in 1956. Ever since independence they struggled with tribal, political and religious internal strife over power. The north was dominated by an Arab culture Muslim population, while the South consisted mostly of Christians and indigenous animist practicing peoples. Within these populations consisted dozens of tribes with many languages and dialects. The Muslim north forbid English being taught and enforced the Arabic language while the South taught English and retained its many other languages. Border clashes with the surrounding nations caused and still causes many armed conflicts. But to sum up the major conflict of Sudan as a whole I turned to a book which documented the root causes of the conflict; “The issue of self-determination quickly revolved around who was to inherit the instruments of state, and the internal battle was joined on those grounds.” (Johnson 128). This even included struggles within the Muslim north where there were some who wanted a theocratic dominated government and those who didn’t.
Civil war erupted and lasted 22 years between the north and the South to finally end with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in January of 2005. The CPA was meant to end the war, establish democratic government, share oil profits, and set a referendum for independence of the south. The history which led to this effort was a bloody one involving neighboring countries and the international community. If not for the intervention of the US and the United Nations, either the north would have dominated or they would still be at war. Holt and Daly summed up the effort “As the people of the south struggled even to survive, a travelling roadshow of international conferences purported to speak for them.” (Holt 194).
South Sudan became an independent state on July 9th of 2011. The country is a member of the United Nations, the African Union, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, and they signed the Geneva Conventions. Although there is much hope for this country, the situation currently is a dire one for many reasons. Much of the statistics of suffering for this country remain the same because of a lack of infrastructure. They are only now beginning to rebuild their country after the long bloody conflict. Despite having many rich resources including petroleum and an abundance of water sickness, starvation and disease still plague the nation. International agencies and corporations are beginning to invest in the country and slowly they are headed toward a path of prosperity.
After seeing these statistics I began to wonder what the route of the problem was. There are many contributing factors, but it seems one of the main problems is that there is a lack of connectedness among the ten states within the country. This is mainly due to the country desperately needing a highway system to create transportation routes in order to create an economic synergy. Much of the rural community is isolated and has no money to purchase goods which are now beginning to be produced and imported, and they have no way to travel long distances. So until an infrastructure and an economy can flourish, many of the same issues remain. Roger Winter director of the US Committee for refugees wrote some time ago about refugee groups; “Women and children often are left behind, displaced and without access to international assistance or protection. They are dying in shockingly large numbers. In some areas, virtually all children under 3 are dead. Young girls are rare…with an economy based on cattle herding, girls are allowed to starve so that resources can be devoted to their brothers” (Foster 82). A past issue of The Economist sums up much of the problem of poverty in this way:
“Villagers are too poor to buy fuel for the generator powering the water pump when bad weather thwarts solar power. Nor can they afford the school fees from which teachers’ salaries are paid. In any case, the mostly illiterate parents prefer to send their children to the fields or marry them off, hoping for a dowry paid in cattle. Many classrooms are never used…60% of the population are still cut off for half the year due to floods in the rainy season. Paved roads to connect the main towns of South Sudan’s ten states would cost $7 billion. At present only UN helicopters can be relied on to reach them…Less than 1% of the people have access to electricity. “This place makes Afghanistan look developed,” says one of thousands of foreign helpers. Three-quarters of frontline health care is provided by foreign outfits. Without foreign assistance, South Sudan would collapse (A new country rises from the ruins).
Efforts by the international community are constantly being brought in to address the many issues South Sudan still faces; “United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) deputy executive director Ramiro Lopes da Silva announced yesterday that his agency will assist eighty thousand people in South Sudan’s Jonglei state, who are victims of escalating ethnic conflict between the Lou Nuer and the Murle… Conflict between the Lou Nuer and the Murle predates the Sudanese civil war and the independence of South Sudan. Over the years, as now, it involves cattle theft, kidnapping, and revenge” (Campbell)
In order to address many of these problems the issue of food security and under-nutrition need to be addressed. Without a population of nourished peoples economic development will continue to be a major challenge. According to statistics in 2008 from UNICEF table “Countries that rank high in under nutrition based on anthropometric measurements of children under age 5” under “Percentage who are stunted (low height for age)” 43.4 % are stunted due to under-nutrition (Foster 79). The capability of individuals to join any workforce is diminished due to these issues. The country also faces a major water crisis. Julian Simon of the University of Maryland says that “New huge supplies of groundwater have been found in the Red Sea Province of eastern Sudan…” but saying that “human labor and ingenuity” are needed to properly utilize such resources. (qtd in Foster 178,179). Without a proper infrastructure, and with much of the population under-nourished, human labor is hard to come by.
Another major threat South Sudan faces is from the Lord’s Resistance Army led by Joseph Kony. North Sudan’s President Omar al-Bashir last year threatened to “liberate” the people of South Sudan from what he called the “insects” in their government. Joseph Kony confirmed that his forces “helped the Arabs to fight their war in the south…” If the north decides once more to break out in civil war they may use Kony and his guerrilla forces to help achieve this task.
Despite all these challenges, there is still much cause for hope. The international community is beginning to invest in the country. One highway has already been built. The end of war and conflict has allowed the population to concentrate their efforts on creative ways to produce agricultural yield. Foster and Howard point out an example of improved farming techniques in Sudan saying “…planting millet under the acacia albida tree improved millet yield. The tree roots drew nutrients from deep in the soil and the dropping tree leaves transferred those nutrients to the top of the soil.” (228). Slowly but surely changes in the country are beginning to be seen.
As the author of this research paper I must admit, I used to be a pessimist when it came to Africa. Most of my friends and family are pessimists. But I found this to be due to ignorance. Until I did the research I still was under the impression that South Sudan was still at war. I didn’t even know that they only recently gained independence. At the time independence was achieved I had just returned from the war in Afghanistan, and the last thing I did was follow the news. As for the people who saw it in the news at the time, it only became a short news story and they returned back to life.
I’m sure for much of the global community who knew of the history they breathed a sigh of relief. The problem I see though currently is that much of the world has tuned out. They think everything is now fine since the war has ended and they achieved independence. But now is the most critical time as ever. The same statistics of suffering and under-nutrition remain. If I had a voice to give to the international community I would say this, “Now is the time” The opportunity right now to contribute toward ending hunger and suffering is the greatest. The reason for this is that we now have access to a country that is not at war. It is no longer a suicide mission to go in and try to help. More of the business world needs to go in and negotiate contracts to jump start their economy. But I would also speak to the churches, missionaries and the charitable organizations around the world; Now is the time for aid. Foreign aid Dependency is no longer an issue. The projection of economic self-sufficiency is now a statistical and future certainty with the absence of war, and with the country now beginning to exploit and sell its petroleum reserves to the world. The isolated populations in rural communities are still starving and suffering. You are now needed more than ever.
I will conclude my paper with these facts, with a prediction and a challenge. The Republic of South Sudan’s majority are Christians. History shows that Christian populations tend to rule at peace with each other and prosper economically in the absence of war. The country is rich in petroleum among other resources which will guarantee its prosperity. Someday I truly believe this nation will have a flourishing economy, a modern infrastructure, highways connecting everything, shopping malls and grocery stores in every city, flourishing schools, and I believe starvation and under-nutrition will cease entirely and be a thing of the past. Our children and grandchildren will learn in school about the history and will be able to see the suffering and poverty which was once South Sudan, and they will be able to see it on video in color. They will learn in school of the triumphant cause of the many people who contributed toward ending the war, ending suffering and starvation, and the rebuilding of the nation into a modern one. Will you be able to tell your children and to tell the world that you were a part of that? Furthermore, if you are a religious person like I am and believe that you will someday stand before God Almighty, when he asks you what you did with the richness of American life and prosperity he blessed you with, will you be able to say that you brought food to the mouth of a single dying Sudanese woman, man or child? I truly hope so. If not you better go read your bible and see what he says to those who only used their riches for themselves. It will not be well for you. Get off the couch, quick watching American idle, put away the video games and mobilize. It’s time to make your life count for something greater than yourself. You may not be able to take a mission trip, but you could support someone else who does, or you can choose from among many ministries or charitable organizations who send relief aid to help suffering and starving people. Do some research and find one you trust. Some day it will be revealed to you what your money did to help someone else. It will count for time and for eternity. Check out these sites if you wish to find one to donate to:
Africa: Sudan. cia.gov/library/publications/the-world factbook/geos/od.html Central Intelligence Agency, np. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
“A new country rises from the ruins” economist.com/news/middle-east-and-africa/21577074 worlds-youngest-country-struggles-build-decent-government-and-society. The Economist, np. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
Campbell, John. Another Humanitarian Crisis Brewing in South Sudan?blogs.cfr.org/campbell/2012/02/01/another-humanitarian-crisis-brewing-in-south-sudan. Council On Foreign Relations, np. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
Foster, Phillips, and Howard D. Leathers. THE WORLD FOOD PROBLEM Toward Ending Undernutrition in the Third World. 4th ed. Boulder, Colorado; Lynne Rienner Publishers, Inc, 2009. Print.
Holt, PM, and MM Daly. HISTORY OF THE SUDAN From the coming of Islam to the present day. 5th ed. Malaysia, LSP Pearson Education Limited, 2000. Print.
Johnson, Douglas H. THE ROOT CAUSES OF SUDAN’S CIVIL WARS. Bloomington, Indiana, Indiana University Press, 2004. Print.
Knopf, Payton L. How to Secure Peace in South Sudan. cfr.org/sudan/secure-peace-south sudan/p25465. Council On Foreign Relations, np. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.
South Sudan, Country At A Glance. worldbank.org/en/country/southsudan. The World Bank Group, np. Web. 17 Nov. 2013.