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Foreign Aid and South Sudan

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Analyse debates about foreign aid to improve health outcomes in a particular country or region. In your opinion, what is needed to improve health outcomes in poor (aid recipient) countries and/or communities?

South Sudan

South Sudan separated from Sudan and gained its independence in 2011. This world's newest country has the third-largest oil reserves in Sub-Saharan Africa and yet it has one of the world's poorest population --- 50.6% of a population of, approximately 11 million people, is living below the national poverty line. From 2006 to 2010, South Sudan received approximately one billion US dollars from foreign aid and a total of $1.4 billion US dollars one year after its independence. Sharing an oil-rich border with North Sudan, 98% of the government's budget relies on its oil revenue,

What is the role of foreign aid in South Sudan?

Foreign aid agencies have contributed billions of dollars during the period when South Sudan is signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and after its independence in 2011 (Ajak, Larson, & Pritchett, 2013). This money didn’t go directly to South Sudan's government. But it funded almost everything including water, food, security training, drugs, textbooks and a range of other services. Also, 4/5 of health care in South Sudan is provided by outside groups. Services and funding are provided by a number of national and international NGOs and the United Nations (UN) agencies that operate in the region. Many foreign aid programs, such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), also have been working on assisting South Sudan's long-term development such as providing supports in governance, disease prevention and medical trainings, and improving infrastructure (click here for details).

However, the effectiveness of foreign aid to improve health outcomes in South Sudan has become a controversial topic.

Arguments against foreign aid in South Sudan:

Opponents argue that the provision of aid services will only foster the country's dependency on foreign aid, which undermines the country’s political and social coherence. The government of South Sudan is seen as a failure for meeting the population’s health needs. It focuses mostly on purchasing fire equipment for its ‘anti-fire safes’ at a cost of 7, 959, 400 USD, while leaving the responsibility of providing primary health care to foreign aid groups and local NGOs. With the reliance on health care services provided by foreign aid groups, the government has very little attention on promoting health and welfare of its population --- the government’s total expenditure on health was only 2.6% of GDP in 2012 (WHO). The latest ongoing civil war began in December 2013 has caused thousands of deaths and displaced over one million people, which is “chipping away at all the development gains made in the past three years”. Because of the increasing demand of aid services due to ongoing conflicts, foreign aid groups have very few chances to strengthen the local capacity and it will come to a time when foreign donors are no longer able to respond to the increasing demand of aid and humanitarian services in South Sudan.

Arguments for foreign aid in South Sudan

Foreign aid plays an important role in helping the country to step out from the post-conflict situation (Downie, 2014). The provisions of foreign aid services and funding aim to meet the most crucial and most urgent humanitarian needs in South Sudan. Since South Sudan became independent with almost nothing (e.g. lack of basic infrastructure, fragile health care system and unsettled border with Sudan), more time is needed for this young country to develop and foreign donors should not give up on South Sudan just because they haven’t seen much improvement in the first few years after its independence. However, some proponents also argue that South Sudan should not be abandoned but foreign donors need to reflect on their current approach of providing aid service to South Sudan. As the country is beset with conflicts, many donors are taking money out of development projects for humanitarian relief. In the video below, Balazs Horvath talks about why foreign donors should go beyond the current crisis in South Sudan and take the risk in building its capacity of development in the long run: if the idea of long-term development is missing, then it will further lead to more serious humanitarian crisis in the future.

-

References:

Ajak, P. B., Larson, G. & Pritchett, L. (2013) South Sudan's Capability Trap: Building a State with Disruptive Innovation

In my opinion, foreign aid is not the ultimate solution of ending poverty and suffering in poor countries, especially for post-conflict countries like South Sudan. The main causes of the slow improvement and even -worse situation of South Sudan today are political instability and civil unrest, where foreign aid has stuck in a endless loop: the ongoing conflicts lead to an increasing demand for humanitarian aid services, while foreign donors cannot focus on long-term development projects, which actually is the grassroot approach to solve conflicts and poverty. It is hard for foreign aid donors to choose https://docs.unocha.org/sites/dms/SouthSudan/South_Sudan_Media_Briefing_Pack/South%20Sudan%20humanitarian%20and%20development%20statistics%20-%20December%202013.pdf http://www.theguardian.com/global-development/datablog/2012/jul/09/south-sudan-in-numbers-key-statistics BRANCH, Adam; MAMPILLY, Zachariah C. Winning the war, but losing the peace?
The dilemma of SPLM/A civil administration and the tasks ahead. Journal of
Modern African Studies, Vol. 43, n. I, p. 1-20, 2005. Available at: < http://www.jstor. org/stable/3876257>. Accessed in: 5 Sep. 2011. https://www.devex.com/news/undp-to-donors-don-t-abandon-south-sudan-s-long-term-development-83362 Ravelo, J. L. (2014). What foreign aid got wrong in South Sudan. Devex, viewed 12 September 2014: https://www.devex.com/news/what-foreign-aid-got-wrong-in-south-sudan-82713

WHO, http://www.who.int/countries/ssd/en/
Video: http://youtu.be/cJloCMijyDc http://csis.org/files/publication/121114_Downie_HealthSudan_Web.pdf http://www.newsudanvision.com/diaspora-publisher/2726-commentary-challenges-and-pitfalls-of-south-sudan-health-sector-in-post-conflict-era http://youtu.be/cJloCMijyDc South Sudan

- South Sudan separated from Sudan and gained its independence in 2011.

- This world's newest country has the third-largest oil reserves in Sub-Saharan Africa

- 92% of the government's budget relies on its oil revenue

- It has one of the world's poorest population: 50.6% of a population of, approximately 11 million people, is living below the national poverty line

- It also has the world's highest maternal mortality rate

- Communicable diseases (e.g. malaria) and non-communicable diseases (e.g. malnutrition) both contribute to its high burden of disease

- From 2006 to 2010, South Sudan received approximately one billion US dollars from foreign aid and a total of $1.4 billion US dollars one year after its independence.

What is the role of foreign aid in South Sudan?

Foreign aid agencies have contributed billions of dollars during the period when South Sudan is signing the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) and after its independence in 2011 (Ajak, Larson, & Pritchett, 2013). This money didn’t go directly to South Sudan's government. But it funded almost everything including water, food, security training, drugs, textbooks and a range of other services. Also, 4/5 of health care in South Sudan is provided by outside groups. Services and funding are provided by a number of national and international NGOs and the United Nations (UN) agencies that operate in the region. Many foreign aid programs, such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), also have been working on assisting South Sudan's long-term development such as providing supports in governance, disease prevention and medical trainings, and improving infrastructure (click here for details).

However, the effectiveness of foreign aid to improve health outcomes in South Sudan has become a controversial topic.

Arguments against foreign aid in South Sudan:

Opponents argue that the provision of aid services will only foster the country's dependency on foreign aid, which undermines the country’s political and social coherence. The government of South Sudan is seen as a failure for meeting the population’s health needs.

It focuses mostly on purchasing weapons for its ‘anti-fire safes’ at a cost of 7, 959, 400 USD, while leaving the responsibility of providing primary health care to foreign aid groups and local NGOs (Ngor, 2013).

With the reliance on health care services provided by foreign aid groups, the government has very little attention on promoting health and welfare of its population: the government’s total expenditure on health was only 2.6% of GDP in 2012 (WHO).

The latest ongoing civil war began in December 2013 has caused thousands of deaths and displaced over one million people, which is “chipping away at all the development gains made in the past three years (Ravelo, 2014)”. Because of the increasing demand of aid services due to ongoing conflicts, foreign aid groups have very few chances to strengthen the local capacity and it will come to a time when foreign donors are no longer able to support all the functions of a country.

Arguments for foreign aid in South Sudan

Proponents argu that foreign aid plays an important role in helping the country to step out from the post-conflict situation.

The provisions of foreign aid services and funding aim to meet the most crucial and most urgent humanitarian needs in South Sudan (Downie, 2014).Since South Sudan became independent with almost nothing (e.g. lack of basic infrastructure, fragile health care system and unsettled border with Sudan), more time is needed for this young country to develop and foreign donors should not give up on South Sudan just because they haven’t seen much improvement in the first few years after its independence (Stephens, 2014). However, some proponents also argue that South Sudan needs foreign aid services not only for short-term relief, but also supports in long-term development. Foreign donors need to reflect on their current approach of providing aid service to South Sudan. As the country is beset with conflicts, many donors are taking money out of development projects for humanitarian relief. In the video below, Balazs Horvath talks about why foreign donors should go beyond the current crisis in South Sudan and take the risk in building its capacity of development in the long run: if the idea of long-term development is missing, then it will further lead to more serious humanitarian crisis in the future.

[pic]

In my opinion,
Foreign aid is not the ultimate solution of ending poverty and suffering in poor countries, especially for post-conflict countries like South Sudan. But it can become an effective tool for a better development, if uncertainty and risks are properly managed.
The main causes of the slow improvement and the even-worse situation of South Sudan today are political instability and civil unrest, where foreign aid has stuck in a endless loop: the ongoing conflicts lead to an increasing demand for humanitarian aid services, while foreign donors cannot focus on long-term development projects, which actually is the grassroot approach to solve conflicts and poverty. So foreign aid is not the only one to be blamed for South Sudan's situation today. To tackle this problem, especially for promoting health of the population, it is necessary for the government to collaborate with foreign aid groups to meet the real needs of its people, such as increasing access to primary and secondary health care, training and educating local health workforce, and developing a more stable health care system, instead of using most of its budget in enhancing militaries and buying weapons. It might take a long period of time to see the effects of long-term development projects, but if the government doesn't face and act to solve the country's problems rationally, foreign aid will never actually touch on the real issue of the country and South Sudan might become another case of 'failure'.

References:

Ngor, A. (2014). South Sudan Health Sector in Post-Conflict Era: Challenges and Pitfalls. viewed 12 September 2014:

http://www.newsudanvision.com/diaspora-publisher/2726-commentary-challenges-and-pitfalls-of-south-sudan-health-sector-in-post-conflict-era

Ravelo, J. L. (2014). What foreign aid got wrong in South Sudan. Devex, viewed 12 September 2014: https://www.devex.com/news/what-foreign-aid-got-wrong-in-south-sudan-82713

WHO (n.d.) South Sudan, viewed 12 September 2014: http://www.who.int/countries/ssd/en/

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