HIV/AIDS in South Sudan
The Republic of South Sudan is located in Eastern Africa. Many know it for its newly-gained independence from Sudan and its status of being the youngest nation in the world. However, South Sudan is also one of the poorest nations in the world and is listed as 185 out of 189 countries on the Human Development Index (HDI). Due to ongoing conflict in the region, such as the recent civil wars, South Sudan has seen a spike in issues related to the country’s health system and many of its citizens are impacted by HIV/AIDS. Nevertheless, international and domestic institutions are taking major steps in combating the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in the region.

The Reality of HIV/Aids in South Sudan

One can characterize the issue of HIV/AIDS in South Sudan as being more concentrated in certain social groups and geographical areas. For example, HIV and AIDS are more prevalent in the southern regions of the nation and even more prevalent among female sex workers within those regions.

The transmission of HIV is a topic that is studied at length to combat the spread of the virus. According to the South Sudan Mode of Transmission Report (MoT), a study that occurred in 2014 regarding forms of transmitting HIV, the majority of the newest cases came from heterosexual sexual relations and mothers transmitting to their newborn children. Mother-to-child transmission often happened in cases of birthing, breastfeeding and pregnancy.

Another statistic that researchers often analyze when discerning the severity of the issue within a certain region is the percentage of the general population that has the virus. The U.N. Progress Report for monitoring HIV/AIDS in South Sudan states that around 2.5% of adults (ages 15-49) are living with HIV. This number, however, is improving due to help from institutions such as the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the U.N. These institutions are working on new ways of preventing the spread of HIV and treating those who have already been affected.

Something else that institutions take into consideration when attempting to combat viruses such as HIV is the general public’s knowledge of that virus. According to a survey on the attitudes and knowledge of HIV in Nimule, most adolescents had “fair” knowledge of HIV with 82% of the surveyed youth being aware that HIV can spread through sexual intercourse and 98% being aware that it can spread through blood. While the researchers concluded that there were some misconceptions surrounding the virus, it is commendable that most adolescents in the survey had a basic knowledge of the subject.

How Institutions are Battling HIV/AIDS in the Region

According to an article that the U.N. published, the prevalence of HIV/AIDS in South Sudan – and Africa as a whole –  is declining rather quickly. This is due to international institutions such as UNAIDS and the governments of Africa funneling money into their health programs. However, this article also stresses the need for continued monetary support to help these countries become healthier and safer.

One way that UNAIDS and African governments are helping combat this virus is through HIV testing. According to the MoH, there were around 32 facilities in South Sudan that provided HIV-related assistance, like testing. The South Sudanese government has also made it its mission to “Test and Treat all.” These testing efforts have made it a lot easier for institutions to pinpoint certain concentrations of affected individuals and allocate their resources accordingly. These measures to “test all” have been successful. The total number of people receiving antiretroviral treatment increased by around 20,300 between March 2013 and March 2018.

Another way in which institutions are helping the cause is by amping up anti-retroviral therapy (ART). This is an HIV treatment that helps to contain HIV replication. This therapy greatly reduces the mortality rate of HIV and even allows some patients to live completely normal lives. The “test all treat all” initiative has certain guidelines, one of which includes a minimum amount of time one can wait to receive treatment after testing positive for HIV (one week). Guidelines like these make it easier for governments and other institutions to manage the spread and treatment of the virus.

The Road Ahead

Although HIV/AIDS in South Sudan continues to be an issue, it is critical to note that governments and organizations are working to combat it. With the help of both international and domestic institutions, the cases of HIV continue to decrease year after year. However, it is still crucial to take into account that the issue has not reached its end, and continued support for South Sudan is of utmost importance.

– Tim Ginter
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Illiteracy in South Sudan
Lack of education can contribute to rising poverty rates in struggling countries. In South Sudan, more than 70% of the adult population is illiterate. This puts individuals at a disadvantage when it comes to finding employment. A lack of education among poor communities ultimately creates a cycle of social oppression. It is analyzing this correlation that can demonstrate how to improve education in developing countries.

Poverty and Education

In 2016, more than half of South Sudan’s children were not in school. This then contributes to the high rate of illiteracy in South Sudan. The lack of education present among the citizens of South Sudan then contributes to a higher number of illnesses and poverty. Individuals who do not obtain an education are less likely to seek medical attention until a disease has progressed into a critical condition. When individuals are not aware of preventative care, deadly illnesses such as sexually transmitted diseases can spread quickly, harming already struggling communities.

With a high rate of illiteracy in South Sudan comes an increasing number of individuals living in poverty. In 2021, more than 6 million citizens of South Sudan were in great need of humanitarian assistance. Not being able to read impacts individuals’ knowledge of health and food, therefore contributing to a poor community. The Sudanese depend greatly on agriculture for means of survival, but improper farming tactics can create aversive effects, such as the contamination of water.

The Good News

UNICEF indicates that a child has a 50% higher chance of survival if born to an educated mother. This means that a woman who has been able to obtain an education can care for her child better and ensure they receive an education. The present issue is that illiteracy in South Sudan is higher in women than in men. Fewer than 1% of Sudanese girls obtain an education.

UNICEF, along with Global Partnership for Education (GPE), developed a plan for the year 2022 that would grant $41.7 million in order to decrease the number of children out of school by 15%. This funding enabled reading materials to undergo distribution to schools while also funding training for teachers. Not only this, but GPE built 25 schools, allowing 10,000 students to receive an education.

In this program, GPE enabled a gender-specific strategy that would promote greater gender equality among educated civilians in South Sudan. The goal is to increase the number of girls obtaining an education. Placing a greater amount of students in classrooms could then decrease the number of preventable illnesses. Not only this but establishing fully functioning classrooms would also lead to greater job availabilities.

Illiteracy in South Sudan is detrimental to its community. When individuals are not able to receive an education, it creates a cycle that further places the Sudanese into poverty. Lack of knowledge of nutrition and proper health care physically harms citizens. Infant mortality rates are also higher in those who are born to illiterate parents. Enabling women to receive an education could drastically increase the number of children attending school in the future. Decreasing the illiteracy rate for those in South Sudan would promote a healthier community.

– Micaela Carrillo
Photo: Flickr

Health Crisis in South Sudan
The health crisis in South Sudan consists of unprecedented flooding, disease outbreak and a lack of food. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), maternal mortality ranges from 789 to 1,150 per 100,000 live births in South Sudan. Additionally, only about
41% of people have access to safe drinking water and only 11% can access adequate sanitation facilities. The United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) increased its efforts to provide the most vulnerable populations with basic health protections. Here are five ways UNICEF is solving the health crisis in South Sudan.

5 Ways UNICEF Is Solving The Health Crisis in South Sudan

  1. Disease ControlSouth Sudan is battling communicable diseases such as pneumonia, which has a 13% prevalence in the country, and malaria, which accounts for 35% of visits to the hospital. The health facilities in the country were destroyed and looted because of the previous conflicts, which further spread communicable diseases. However, UNICEF provided 174,577 people and 86,846 children with primary healthcare services. At the start of January 2022, 21 counties experienced a measles outbreak. In response, UNICEF and other partners organized a vaccination measles campaign for about 300,000 children ages six months to 15 years at the beginning of October 2022. These immunization efforts spread to children under one to stop the health crisis in South Sudan. 
  2. WASH ServicesThere are many people without water, sanitation and hygiene because of the yearly floods in various regions of South Sudan. Additionally, the previous conflicts in South Sudan destroyed the country’s most basic water and hygiene facilities. However, UNICEF provides safe drinking water to various communities in South Sudan by drilling boreholes and giving families purification tablets. There are additional services that UNICEF implemented in the country as well, such as the construction of bathrooms and the encouragement of washing hands to prevent the possible spread of diseases.
  3. Food and NutritionAccording to the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, about 54% of the population in South Sudan lacks food. The health crisis in South Sudan continues with seven of the country’s states with severe food insecurity for 15% of the population. Data shows that 25,000 children suffer from severe acute malnutrition in some states. UNICEF provides nutrition services for the two most vulnerable populations: women and children. The organization treated 235,967 children (127,535 girls and 108,432 boys) with Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) by allocating resources towards inpatient and outpatient therapeutic programs, targeting 78% of the burden. Lastly, with feeding and counseling services, UNICEF reached 1,755,674 pregnant women or caregivers of children 0-23 months.
  4. Media Literacy – In October 2022, UNICEF increased its Risk Communication and Community Engagement (RCCE) efforts for Ebola. Through community engagement, UNICEF supported the National Malaria Control Program and launched the “Zero Malaria Starts with Me” campaign. Data demonstrates that UNICEF worked with the government to broadcast 18 talk shows and 1,674 radio jingles in eight languages more than 40 local radio stations, reaching more than 40% of the population. The broadcast messages educated the public about nutrition, immunization and infant diseases. Furthermore, educational materials for high-risk areas of illness or low health reached about 15,000 people. Lastly, UNICEF supported the Integrated Community Mobilization Network (ICMN), which included COVID-19 prevention information for 175,780 households and face-to-face interactions spreading scientifically accurate vaccine information to local communities for the health crisis in South Sudan.
  5. EducationThe health crisis in South Sudan is one of the worst in the world, especially for children. Furthermore, there is a maternal mortality rate for children under 5 of 135 per 1,000 live births. However, UNICEF is educating the local health workers in South Sudan. The organization provides local health workers with the necessary knowledge and tools to cure diseases in most rural communities. Additionally, there are essential drugs along with education to increase the complete eradication of dangerous and prevalent diseases.

The amount of work and effort UNICEF provides to various countries in need worldwide is insufficient to list it all. Whether through WASH services or food nutrition, the organization is helping to solve South Sudan’s major health problems. UNICEF demonstrates that intergovernmental humanitarian organizations are essential to the world’s global health.

– Andres Valencia
Photo: Flickr

Charities Operating in South Sudan
South Sudan is a country in dire need of assistance. Having seceded from Sudan over a decade ago, the fledgling nation’s history has been fraught with conflict between its government and armed opposition groups. The fighting stopped in 2018 when South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir and the leader of the main opposition force agreed on a peace deal. The opposition leader became the vice president and he and Kiir have been working toward unity and a new constitution.

However, the South Sudanese people are still in trouble. More than 60% of the population is facing food insecurity, the country is chronically underdeveloped and extensive flooding devastates many areas. Here are five charities operating in South Sudan.

5 Charities Operating in South Sudan

  1. Sudan Relief Fund: The Sudan Relief Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit religious organization founded in 1998 and is dedicated to bringing food, safe drinking water, clothing, shelter and medical attention to the people of South Sudan. The organization seeks to aid in the development of infrastructure necessary for South Sudan’s growth and stability. Some of its accomplishments include the Catholic University of South Sudan, which the organization helped build and continues to fund, and the “Mother of Mercy” hospital which is a full-scale hospital with 400 beds. Moreover, the organization also provided more than $5 million in support to South Sudan in 2021. Many of the South Sudan Relief Fund’s operations and aid efforts take place right in South Sudan, ensuring that most of the donations go right to where people need them.
  2. International Rescue Committee (IRC): The IRC is a global humanitarian aid, relief and development 501 (c)(3) nonprofit. The organization operates in more than 40 crisis-affected countries and has assisted in some of the worst humanitarian crises like Afghanistan and currently Ukraine. South Sudan is one of the countries the IRC aids and the country is under a “crisis watch,” according to the IRC website. On October 17, 2021, the IRC issued a statement about its emergency response to assist the South Sudanese people affected by conflict, disease and flooding.
  3. Helping Hands for South Sudan: Helping Hands for South Sudan is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity based in Palo Alto, CA. Its founder, Gabriel Akim Nyok, is a Sudanese refugee and was one of the “Lost Boys and Girls of South Sudan,” the nickname for the 20,000+ children who fled from southern Sudan during the civil war. He came to the United States in 2006 and has since taken multiple trips to South Sudan and Uganda to meet with locals, school officials and refugees. His goal is to help facilitate educational needs in the country and previously sponsored the education of South Sudanese children. Nyok has direct involvement in the charity’s operations as its chairman. About 99% of donations go directly to children and a donation of $500 can sponsor a child’s education for a whole year.
  4. Water for South Sudan: Founded in 2008, Water for South Sudan is a charity that helps provide people with clean and safe water through sustainable means. Its founder, Salva Dut, was also a “Lost Boy,” like Gabriel Nyok. The charity takes a collaborative approach by leveraging its existing resources and using them to work alongside communities in need to build or repair water wells. Its projects also include building latrines and commencing hygiene education programs to improve water practices. According to 2021’s report, the charity received more than $1.9 million in contributions and drilled 48 new wells, rebuilt 48 wells and successfully taught 99 hygienic training practices.
  5. Hope Ofiriha: Hope Ofiriha is an NGO registered in Norway and with the South Sudanese government. It has a 501(c)(3) status in the U.S. Its mission is to assist women and children in overcoming social injustice, disease, poverty and illiteracy in Magwi County, one of the poorest and most remote places in the world. According to Hope Ofiriha’s website, its small-scale grassroots projects aim to act as a “hand-up,” not as handouts. The categories of its projects are education, health care, agriculture, child sponsorship, microcredit and the environment. The NGO was originally founded in 1996 as a group that provided agricultural workshops to widows to give them the skills necessary to become self-reliant. Although the organization has grown tremendously since then, its sentiment of helping women (and now children) become self-sufficient has remained the same.

Concluding Thoughts

These five charities operating in South Sudan are making a substantial difference in the country because of their direct approaches and willingness to garner input from the South Sudanese people.

– Matthew Wikfors
Photo: Flickr

Foreign Aid to South Sudan
The need for foreign aid to South Sudan is quickly growing. Not only is South Sudan’s humanitarian crisis worsening but extreme flooding, mass famine, economic troubles and aid cuts combine to exacerbate poverty and instability. As the Russia-Ukraine war continues, South Sudan struggles as donors scale back their donations and redirect their foreign assistance budgets to aid Ukraine.

Violence and Political Unrest

The political situation in South Sudan is shaky and has led to violence and insecurity among the South Sudanese people. For context, South Sudan voted to secede from Sudan and became an independent state in 2011. However, shortly after, in 2013, civil war broke out due to a conflict between South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir, Sudan People’s Liberation Army in-Opposition (SPLA-IO) and “other armed groups and affiliated militias.” The warring parties reached a peace agreement in 2015, but that quickly fell apart in 2016. In 2018, Kiir and Riek Machar, former leaders of the SPLA-IO, signed a peace accord in hopes of resolution.

The peace accord led to the division of power in a unity government officially inaugurated in February 2020, with Kiir as president and Machar as the first vice president. In August 2022, the unity government decided to extend by two years the post-civil war “transitional period,” which the government previously agreed would end in 2022. “Due to the lack of progress on many provisions of the peace agreement,” the transitional period will end in 2023, Africanews reports.

The need for foreign aid in South Sudan is critical because the general violence may have lessened, but the prevalence of other atrocities has risen. For example, United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) found a “218[%] increase in conflict-related sexual violence” at the end of the second quarter of 2022.

In 2021, UNMISS documented 440 civilian murders and 64 rapes in Western Equatoria committed by the SPLA-IO and the military. South Sudan has held no perpetrators accountable and some senior officials in the government are advocating against accountability for various crimes, including ones committed by rebel groups and government authorities.

Flooding and Extreme Famine

The need for foreign aid to South Sudan is also high due to recurring mass flooding and extreme famine. According to the U.N. Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), in 2022, the flooding impacted around 1 million people. Bearing in mind that South Sudan has a population of about 12.4 million people, this statistic means flooding has affected around 8% of the country’s total population.

A World Food Programme (WFP) report published in July 2022 reveals the extent of the extreme famine within South Sudan. Of the population of 12.4 million, around 7.7 million people are enduring severe food insecurity. This equates to more than 60% of the population struggling to meet their food needs. The report also reveals that more than “one-third of the counties in South Sudan have Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates that exceed the emergency threshold of 15[%].”

Economic Woes and Aid Cuts

In areas such as Warrap, locals say the price of basic goods has risen by 50% due to the “war in Ukraine as well as local currency depreciation and other supply chain disruptions.” In an October 2022 interview with The New Humanitarian, Agany Monychol, a doctor who runs a hospital in Tonj, said malnutrition cases are now twice as prevalent due to the rising prices of food.

The New Humanitarian also notes that aid cuts are not just a result of donor reallocations to Ukraine but also stem from a distrust of the South Sudanese government due to corrupt spending.

In June 2022, the WFP suspended aid to 1.7 million South Sudanese people due to “critical funding shortages.” Donor funding for Monychol’s hospital had also been reduced by 30%, leading to staff cuts and patients struggling without medicine.

Action to Assist South Sudan

The humanitarian crisis and growing poverty rates stem from a combination of factors, which is why foreign aid to South Sudan is crucial. According to the latest official World Bank estimates from 2016, 82% of South Sudanese people live under the national poverty line, giving South Sudan a first-place ranking for the highest poverty rates out of the World Bank’s recorded list of country-specific poverty estimates.

Despite funding shortfalls, the WFP provided 4 million people in South Sudan with food aid between January 2022 and June 2022. The U.S. is also committed to providing aid to South Sudan. According to the Department of State’s website, the U.S. is the top-ranking provider of foreign aid to South Sudan. From January 2022 to August 2022, the U.S. supplied South Sudan with more than $371 million worth of humanitarian aid.

As the youngest nation in the world, it will take time for the government of South Sudan to address issues relating to poverty while focusing on establishing political stability to maintain peace. Until then, it is important to continue to provide foreign aid to South Sudan in order to address the humanitarian crisis.

– Matthew Wikfors
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction in South Sudan
South Sudan is considered the youngest nation in the world, officially gaining independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, after a vote for independence was passed via referendum in January of that year. Data from the World Bank shows that the poverty rate in South Sudan was 82.3% as of 2016 – the highest poverty rate in the world. The World Bank also outlined some of the other issues South Sudan faces including severe flooding, food shortages a humanitarian crisis coupled with a vulnerable government built upon a shaky peace treaty. These issues make it extremely difficult for South Sudan to address the poverty crisis.

The Difficulty of Addressing Poverty Reduction in South Sudan

The most significant of the issues South Sudan faces is the state of its government. In 2013, a violent conflict broke out leading to atrocities committed against civilians. All sides in the conflict signed a peace deal in 2015 for a unity government but the deal collapsed in 2016, leading to more conflict. In 2018, that deal became revitalized when President Salva Kiir and the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA/IO), Riek Machar, came to an agreement. Machar became vice president under the new government and the agreement was set to expire in February 2023. However, the parties who signed the peace agreement agreed to extend it to February 2025 in order to address peace reforms.

That front requires more work due to the injustices committed against South Sudan’s people by the military and rebel forces. For example, a U.N. peacekeeping mission in 2021 documented the killings of 440 civilians and the rapes of 64 women and girls in Tombuura by the SPLA/IO. None of the perpetrators were held accountable.

U.N. Special Representative for South Sudan Nicholas Haysom expressed the need for South Sudan’s government to address violence and uphold justice. In a speech to the U.N. Security Council, Haysom addressed the extension to the peace agreement and stated that it is a roadmap that should serve as a  waypoint, not an endpoint. The reforms that the South Sudanese government makes should serve as a means to generate long-lasting stability. They should not serve as a means to an end. It requires measures to prevent setbacks or gains from reservation. Haysom also reaffirmed the importance of international assistance, which will lead to poverty reduction and governmental stability in South Sudan.

Addressing Poverty

While the outlook for South Sudan may seem grim, there are solutions to poverty that various charities are implementing through foreign aid. The World Food Programme (WFP) is one example of an organization working to bring peace to feuding groups in South Sudan by addressing food insecurity. In an article about the Malual Mok and Thony communities, the WFP demonstrates its poverty reduction and peacekeeping efforts. Both the Malual Mok and Thony live in an agricultural area called Majak-Kot. The communities previously considered each other enemies, but a series of agricultural projects from the WFP helped to foster a sense of community between them. Instead of fighting over the land and competing to grow food, both communities peacefully coexist and grow food together for mutual benefit.

Moreover, nonprofit charities are also working towards poverty reduction in South Sudan. Many South Sudanese refugees founded charities dedicated to poverty reduction in South Sudan. One example is Helping Hands for South Sudan. Gabriel Akim Nyok, one of the “Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan,” a group of thousands of orphaned children who became refugees to escape from the civil war, founded this charity. After staying in the U.S. for five years, Nyok returned to Sudan in 2011 to visit the South Sudanese refugee camps. In doing so, he became determined to give the children the same opportunity for education that he received. Nyok and his charity have helped put South Sudanese refugee children through school each year. Helping Hands uses donations to put children through school and pay for their education and works directly with South Sudanese communities to improve schools and education.

– Matthew Wikfors
Photo: Flickr

Deadliest Diseases in South SudanSouth Sudan is a country in North Africa, bordering the Central African Republic, Sudan, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo. According to the World Bank, the world’s youngest country is experiencing a humanitarian crisis and two-thirds of the 11.4 million population is in need of humanitarian assistance. Of note, the World Health Organization states the average life expectancy is only 57 years of age. The rate of maternal deaths is 789 per 100,000 live births, 37.9 for neonatal deaths and 90.7 per 1,000 live births for children under 5. Communicable diseases are the leading cause of death, with malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia being the biggest killers of children under 5. Below are the deadliest diseases in South Sudan.

The 5 Deadliest Diseases Impacting South Sudan

  1. Pneumonia. In 2019, UNICEF reported that one child dies every hour from pneumonia, leading to 7,640 deaths of children under 5. In 2018, 20% of deaths among children under 5 were caused by pneumonia. The disease causes suffocation by the lungs filling with fluids, and is caused by infection from bacteria, viruses or fungi. In places with malnutrition, inequality, high levels of air pollution and unsafe water, pneumonia is likely to be found. It can be avoided by vaccines, having safe water to drink, handwashing and treatment of antibiotics.
  2. Malaria. According to Malaria Consortium South Sudan, “approximately 95% of South Sudan is endemic of malaria, with high transmission in the country throughout the year.” This translates to 2.3 million people who are at risk of malaria nationwide. Of note, 50 to 70% of all health facility visits and hospital admissions are caused by malaria. Its symptoms appear up to two weeks later, which include having a fever, headache and chills before progressing. The disease is caused by parasites and mosquitoes through bites but can be treated and prevented by vaccines, chemotherapy and vector control.
  3. HIV/AIDS. UNAIDS states that 2.5% of 15 to 49-year-olds have HIV in South Sudan as of 2020. One in four people is knowledgeable about their HIV status, whereas only 18% of people are being treated. UNAIDS has a 90-90-90 target of supporting people with HIV, and over five years has trained 69 peer educators and navigators, given out over six million male and female condoms, and over 500,000 water-based lubricants, and has diagnosed and treated 1,271 HIV cases after thousands of gender-based screenings as of 2021. HIV could lead to AIDS if left untreated, and is transmitted by bodily fluids, childbirth and using unsafe or shared needles. There’s currently no cure, but it can be treated by antiretroviral drugs and therapy.
  4. Cholera. In 2014, South Sudan’s capital city of Juba had an outbreak of cholera that hit multiple counties. There were 586 confirmed cases with 22 total deaths. The Ministry of Health created the Cholera Response Task Force to “strengthen the coordination of the outbreak response and support the emergency response task forces in all 10 States.” Cholera is caused by unclean water in unsafe sanitation areas where bacteria cause acute watery diarrhea. It can be treated by oral rehydration solution and prevented by oral cholera vaccines. Without treatment, cholera can lead to death within hours.
  5. Hepatitis E. This disease impacting South Sudan has been on the rise since 2014, with cases increasing from 564 in 2020 to 1,143 in 2021 with five deaths. Males aged 15 to 44 years had the most cases, then male children ages one through four, and lastly, females aged 15 to 44 were also reported to have the greatest number of cases. Hepatitis E is spread through fecal-oral contact that progresses into liver disease. Internally displaced-people camps and pregnant women are most at risk in South Sudan.

Looking Ahead

To combat the deadliest diseases in South Sudan, the Ministry of Health created a five-tier plan called the “National Health Policy,” running from 2016 to 2026. The first tier reduces maternal and child death rates by introducing more technical equipment and professional staff members. The second tier is to prevent all communicable, non-communicable and tropical diseases. The third tier improves emergency management, surveillance and recovery. The fourth tier supports specific-health needs. Finally, the fifth tier reduces environmental factors and promotes awareness of social health factors.

– Deanna Barratt
Photo: Flickr

New Schools
In most cases, high poverty rates and poor education go hand-in-hand with each other. However, some of the poorest nations in the world are taking steps to better their educational systems. One of the best ways to do this is to increase access to education by creating new schools.

La Salle Secondary School, South Sudan

In 2011, South Sudan gained independence and became the world’s youngest country after decades of civil war. Unfortunately, it also became one of the world’s poorest countries with a national poverty rate of 82.3% in 2016.

In addition to its high poverty, according to data from 2018, just about a third of the country’s population is literate. With less than 5% of eligible children attending secondary school and “72% of primary-aged children” not attending primary school in 2017, South Sudan is “the most educationally challenged [country] in the world,” the La Salle International Foundation says.

In response to the issue, in 2018, the De La Salle Brothers established a new all-boys high school in Rumbek. The school can hold more than 300 students and training has been provided to local teachers to ensure that students are receiving the best education possible. Classes at the La Salle Secondary School began in 2019.

Royal International College, Equatorial Guinea

Equatorial Guinea is located on the West Coast of Africa and is the only African country to have Spanish as its primary language. Despite standing as a resource-rich country thanks to its minerals and oil reserves, it still had a poverty rate of 76.8% in 2006.

Education in Equatorial Guinea is cost-free and mandatory for children up until age 14. However, Equatorial Guinea tends to have “high dropout rates,” and in 2004, just 50% of primary-aged students attended primary school in the country, the U.N. said.

Also, the entire country has only one main tertiary institution for post-secondary students, the National University of Equatorial Guinea. The goal of the Royal International College is to provide more post-secondary options for students while preparing them for the global stage. The Royal International College plans to open in 2023, boasting an internationally accredited curriculum and international teachers. The school will contain 20 classrooms, a computer lab, a science lab, a reading room and various recreational facilities.

Bougainvillea, Madagascar

Africa’s island nation, Madagascar, had a poverty rate of 70.7% in 2012. According to UNESCO, as for education, one-third of Madagascar’s children do not finish primary school. Furthermore, 97% of 10-year-old children in the country do not have the reading skills to “read single sentences,” Forbes reported.

In 2017, primary school enrollment stood high at 76% but took a nosedive to about 24% for lower and upper secondary schools. Even though enrollment in primary school is high, only 7% of children actually finished primary school in 2017.

Thanks to Maggie Grout’s nonprofit, Thinking Huts, Fianarantsoa city welcomed a new school in April 2022 named Bougainvillea. Unlike most schools in the world, Bougainvillea is an entirely 3D-printed school. Planning behind Bougainvillea took seven years; but, the building construction took about three weeks. Bougainvillea allows up to 30 students to learn at a time.

West African Vocational Schools, Guinea Bissau

Guinea Bissau is a tropical country on the West Coast of Africa. The country’s poverty rate stood at 47.7% in 2018. Education in Guinea Bissau is mandatory for children between the ages of 7 and 14; however, just 55% of children participate in basic education.

The West African Vocational Schools (WAVS) in Bissau have provided more than 1,000 individuals with vocational skills over the last 10 years. In 2020, WAVS expanded, building a 28-acre new campus in the nation’s capital city.

The new WAVS campus aims to train 1,000 students annually, unlike the initial campus, which could only train 1,000 students per 10 years. Once the school opened in April 2022, students had access to English, French and computer classes.

With these new schools bringing educational opportunities to thousands of children, hope exists that the upcoming generation will be well-prepared both academically and professionally. Furthermore, as education continues to improve, the world can possibly anticipate a dip in the global poverty rate.

– Tyshon Johnson
Photo: Flickr

Technology in South Sudan
South Sudan is a small country in northeastern Africa that achieved independence from Sudan in 2011 and is the world’s newest country. Following its independence, a civil war broke out between the two largest ethnic groups in South Sudan, the Dinka and Nuer tribes. Since the resolution of the conflict in 2018, South Sudan has been working hard to improve technology within its information and communication systems in order to revitalize its economy, advance foreign relations and expand networks to all citizens in South Sudan.

The Need for Technology

Information and communication technology (ICT) is a “diverse set of technological tools and resources used to communicate, and to create, disseminate, store, and manage information.” ICT includes any mechanism which facilitates communication and the transfer of information including the internet, computers, cellular devices, radio and television. From education and health care to business, the development of ICT has had a huge impact on nearly every aspect of modern society.

In South Sudan, nearly 80% of the population resides in rural areas with extremely limited access to the internet or mobile services. In 2021, only 8% of South Sudan had internet access, severely limiting the population’s access to the global market as well as valuable international and regional information.

Prior to COVID-19, South Sudan had been experiencing economic growth with a 9.5% GDP between 2019 and 2020. While much of the world transitioned to virtual methods of business and communication as the pandemic progressed, the lack of technology in South Sudan’s rural areas resulted in most of the country experiencing isolation from the world. Without sufficient ICT outside of South Sudan’s capital, Juba, rural populations lost access to even more valuable resources.

The Development of ICT in South Sudan

Despite the obstacles of the pandemic, the development of technology in South Sudan is still underway. In the past, the only way to access the internet was through very expensive satellite-based and mobile phone providers. However, the country has been working since 2018 to lower the price of communication by extending its fiber-optics infrastructure. As a land-locked nation, the quickest way for South Sudan to do that was to negotiate plans to tap into the existing fiber-optic networks of Uganda and Sudan.

Since its onset, the project has seen great success. Between 2020 and 2021, the percentage of internet users in South Sudan rose by 1.5%, and the number of people with mobile connections increased by 17%. In July 2021, President Salva Kir proudly inaugurated the first-ever South Sudanese-owned mobile telecom company, an operation that intends to expand ICT services to citizens in rural areas while simultaneously boosting the economy. 

Looking Ahead

While there is still room for progress, South Sudan continues to show resilience in the face of COVID-19. A large majority of the country still lacks access to ICT and each new broadband network connects those who experienced isolation. There is great potential for the continued development of information and communication technology in South Sudan in the future.

Hannah Gage
Photo: Flickr

Facts about South SudanIn South Sudan, poverty and food insecurity are prevalent despite the country’s abundance of natural resources. Challenges include civil wars and prolonged violence. These challenges contribute to a significant number of people living below the poverty line within the nation. Several facts about South Sudan provide insight into the country’s economic and social landscape.

9  Facts About South Sudan

  1. A 50-Year Conflict. From 1955 through 2005, North and South Sudan faced civil wars and conflict. In January of 2005, the leaders of North and South Sudan signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). This agreement granted Southerners a revised Interim Constitution and partial autonomy. However, even with a signed peace agreement, social, political and economic conflict continues in South Sudan.
  2. Gaining Independence. In January 2011, 98% of Southerners in Sudan voted to secede from the north. Due to this vote, in July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan was formed — the world’s youngest country.
  3. High Poverty Rate. South Sudan has a population of about 12 million people. The overwhelming majority of the population, about 80%, resides in rural areas. According to the World Bank’s latest estimates, about 82% of South Sudanese people endure poverty, surviving on less than $1.90 per day.
  4.  An Abundance of Natural Resources. Although South Sudan falls high on the poverty scale, the country has many natural resources. The Nile River, petroleum, marble/dolomite, aluminum, iron ore and gold stand as the nation’s major natural resources. Of these resources, oil fuels the country’s economy, with outside investors dominating the sector. The issue is that about 85% of the population works in non-wage pastoral jobs and does not benefit from the abundance of natural resources.
  5. Water and Sanitation are Limited. In 2019, just half of the South Sudanese population had access to safe drinking water. Also, just 10% of people had “access to basic sanitation.” On a positive note, due to the work of the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), almost a million more South Sudanese people received “access to improved drinking water” between 2008 and 2019.
  6. Inadequate Health Care. Less than 50% of the South Sudanese population has access to health services. The government allocates only 2.6% of its budget to health care. For this reason, many citizens rely on non-governental organizations (NGOs) for their health care needs. Doctors Without Borders is a movement dedicated to providing medical aid globally. In 2019, Doctors Without Borders had 19 project sites across South Sudan. The organization’s medical assistance is vast and ranges from tackling malaria to vaccinating children and treating gunshot wounds.
  7. Food Insecurity is High. More than 60% of the population is currently enduring food insecurity. The International Relief Committee (IRC) believes that famine will increase even more in 2021. This stems from the cumulative effects of “conflict, an economic crisis, recurrent flooding and COVID-19” as well as displacement. The IRC is advocating for an infusion of support to stave off famine in South Sudan. Action Against Hunger is an NGO currently aiding South Sudan in hunger relief. As the world’s hunger specialist, its goal is to create new, better ways to deal with hunger. In 2020, it helped 558,079 people in South Sudan. Of this number, the organization’s health and nutrition programs helped more than 300,000 people. Further, 103,004 people received help through “food security and livelihood programs.”
  8. Life Expectancy is Increasing. South Sudanese life expectancy stood at 57.6 years of age in 2018. For males, the life expectancy was 56.1 years old. For the female counterpart, the life expectancy was higher at 59.1 years old. This is a steady increase over the years — 20 years ago, in 1998, the life expectancy at birth stood at 48.3 years old.
  9. Access to Education. More than 70% of South Sudanese children are not attending school. Some of these children live in pastoral settings and need to follow the herds so they cannot attend school. Girls are the largest group of students out of school.  This is due to poverty, cultural and religious beliefs and child marriage.

Looking Ahead

These facts about South Sudan may seem discouraging, but there are NGOs working on solutions. World Concern is a faith-based organization that works in South Sudan and 11 other countries. The organization provides assistance in the areas of water access, health, child protection, education, food security and nutrition, disaster and crisis response as well as economic resilience. World Concern supports countries village by village and operates in eight villages in South Sudan.

Hope is on the horizon for the people of South Sudan as organizations like World Concern, the IRC, Doctors Without Borders and Action Against Hunger step up to help. Coupled with the country’s abundance of natural resources, these efforts ensure South Sudanese people are able to rise out of poverty.

– Ariel Dowdy
Photo: Flickr