Can South Sudan reunite to create a shared vision for the future?

The 9th of July is the date that South Sudan will come into being as a new country. With less than two months to go the South’s leadership are debating the country’s future constitution and development experts are discussing what the priorities of the new country should be.

South Sudan (Creative Commons bartpogoda)
Developmental economist Abhijit Banerjee recently suggested South Sudan could trial a health insurance policy and a cash giving programme to alleviate poverty. While interesting suggestions Chris Blattman points out; in a new and fragile nation, with little bureaucratic capacity successful implementation of such policies may be too great a burden. Before such interesting poverty alleviating policies could be successfully enacted physical and bureaucratic infrastructure needs to be in place. Blattman also notes the importance of increased stability and reduced conflict in Sudan in order to successfully carry out poverty alleviation.

The UN believes there are now seven rebel groups in the south looking to overthrow the government. Reports of conflict and death are becoming an almost weekly occurrence. This conflict undermines attempts at poverty alleviation and the promotion human development in South Sudan. The US, UK and Norway recently recognised the need to ensure increased stability in Sudan. A joint statement from USAID’s administrator, Rajiv Shah, with UK and Norwegian development Ministers Andrew Mitchell and Erik Solheim, promised to support stability and spoke of the need to foster economic growth in the region.

However the unfortunate reality is that discussions about South Sudan’s next steps and what is needed should have been resolved already. In an ideal scenario South Sudan should be in the process of implementing its development strategy already, not debating its content whilst fighting internal conflicts. The sustained failure to resolve many of the long standing disputes between the north and the south, such as border demarcation, also remains deeply worrying…..

Luckily there is still some time left to address the issues and unify the south.

This week’s anniversary celebrations of the formation of the South’s Sudan People Liberation Movement’s should be used to remind the Southern Sudanese people of their shared vision for a new country and bring the people back together around this unifying idea. Internal conflicts need to be put aside and the south must be encouraged to work together and also work in successful cooperation with the north. International advice, training and administrative assistance can help support this process so that by the 9th of July the Southern Sudanese people have a shared vision for the future.

Photo: South Sudan (Creative Commons bartpogoda)