South Sudan

Situation and cooperation

People from South Sudan arriving at Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in northern Uganda

After a total of almost 40 years of civil war, the need for international support in South Sudan is vast. An entire new state must be built from scratch. Numerous institutions which, until 2011, were the responsibility of the central government for the whole of Sudan and were based in Khartoum, need to be built up step by step in the new state. This is no easy task, since there are too few properly trained officials available and the political situation makes progress more difficult.

Since hostilities flared up again in July 2016, the political and economic situation in South Sudan has worsened continuously. Corruption dominates public life and is putting a strain on the government’s relations with both the people and international donors. On Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index for 2016, South Sudan is ranked 175th out of 176 countries evaluated.

Social situation

The United Nations Human Development Index (HDI 2015) ranked South Sudan 181st out of 188 countries assessed. A large part of the population now depends on humanitarian assistance, almost four out of the roughly 12 million inhabitants have been displaced. Agricultural production has been seriously affected by the civil war. Parts of the country are threatened by a severe hunger crisis.

Until now, civil society has hardly been able to establish organisations. Local non-governmental organisations (NGOs) lack funding and human resources. In the run-up to the parliamentary and presidential elections in 2010 and the referendum in 2011, NGO networks did, however, spring up, some with the support of Sudanese people living in exile. There is potential here for development initiatives. The churches play an important role in providing basic services, and also in reconciliation work, in South Sudan.

Economic situation

Dr Taban Dafala showing the medication he has smuggled from Uganda to Jalimo in South Sudan in order to treat people there.

The economy of South Sudan depends to a large degree on oil exports. These exports account for around 60 per cent of the country's gross domestic product. Slumping oil prices and a drop in oil production because of the civil war have worsened the economic situation in the country.

It has not yet been possible to build up a private sector. Almost all products are imported from the neighbouring countries of Uganda and Kenya. The decades of fighting that have forced people to leave their land and their homes mean that much basic agricultural knowledge has been lost. A great deal of farmland is unusable because of the insecurity generated by civil war and because the land has been or is thought to have been mined.

South Sudan has virtually no infrastructure. The country has practically no energy supply, water or sanitation, telecommunications or transport networks. Since the 2005 peace agreement was signed though, the government of southern Sudan has been endeavouring to improve living conditions in the regions that had previously been severely neglected. Following its declaration of independence, the government of South Sudan had drawn up a comprehensive development plan with the support of the donor community. Much of the progress achieved since 2005 has been destroyed in recent years by the civil war.

Priority areas of German cooperation with South Sudan

A woman and her child from South Sudan in Bidi Bidi refugee camp in northern Uganda

In response to the new outbreak of civil war in July 2016, the BMZ has shifted German development cooperation in South Sudan into crisis mode. This means that ongoing projects have been adjusted so that measures that take effect comparatively rapidly (for instance the distribution of seeds, cash for work programmes) can mitigate the acute impact of protracted violence. The main focus of all activities is on helping the most vulnerable, such as women, children, refugees, internally displaced persons and communities hosting a large number of refugees. Implementation is carried out wherever the security situation allows.

The BMZ has made some 100 million euros available for projects in the areas of water supply and sanitation, agriculture and food security. The German implementing organisations KfW and GIZ are responsible for implementing the projects. To do this, they cooperate closely with local and international non-governmental organisations and multilateral organisations. 

In addition, the BMZ is supporting several sustainability-related projects by multilateral partners and non-governmental organisations including church-based agencies, which help improve the living situation for the people in South Sudan.

Further development activities by the German government are in the planning stage. The aim is for these measures to help stabilise the crisis-ridden country, bring lasting peace and, in the short to medium term, master the consequences of the current crisis. Several development activities in the region are complementing our activities in South Sudan. Projects in northern Uganda, for example, which has experienced a huge influx of refugees from South Sudan, receive support.


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