JUBA, May 28, 2013—As South Sudan heads toward the second anniversary of its Independence this July, the country is beginning to see the results of more than seven years of development efforts aimed at improving the lives of its 8.3 million citizens.
Across the country, 87 hospitals, clinics and other health facilities have been built to improve access to basic health services for more than one million people. The Juba Teaching Hospital, built in 2006-7, is attracting medical students from across the country and already is bringing much-needed health care to the residents of the country’s capital city and areas surrounding it. Mobile health clinics are bringing health care to rural communities and medical supplies are reaching more families in rural and urban areas than ever before.
In education, some 336 primary school rooms have been built, 2.2 million textbooks distributed to students in South Sudan’s 10 states and about 1000 teachers have been trained. More than 7000 students have received vocational training in a country where unemployment remains high.
“Before, children studied under trees, and now they have proper classrooms,” said Joseph Amule, who teaches at Loa Primary School in Central Equatoria, recalling how logs and rocks served as desks and chairs before furniture arrived.
Led by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS), the US$718 million Multi-donor Trust Fund for South Sudan or MDTF-SS, was created by the Government and 14 international partners to support reconstruction, poverty reduction, governance and human development. Launched in 2005, it was the single largest source of funding for the newly independent nation.
The MDTF-SS has financed over 300 public buildings such as hostels, hospitals, classrooms and government offices, including a complex of 18 ministries, and funded the repair of almost 2,500 kilometers of road linking Juba to state capitals throughout the country.
“Working through a difficult period of transition, the MDTF-SS has delivered substantial results,” says Bella Bird, World Bank Country Director for South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia. “Among the more satisfying, is the citing by an independent evaluation that the way in which the MDTF-SS projects were implemented helped build government capacity to deliver services, build infrastructure and design programs for poverty reduction.”
According to the Director General of the Water Resources Ministry, the Fund has helped more than one million people get better and easier access to basic health and sanitation services. It has also helped empower women, to participate in the economic growth of the country.
“The women of South Sudan have emerged from conflict strong and determined to rebuild their lives and the nation,” said Mary Jervas, Deputy Minister for Finance for South Sudan. “Through the MDTF-SS, over 108 women’s groups have been provided with funds for economic activities like tailoring, food processing and running retail stores.”
Despite the successes, South Sudan still faces many challenges. Youth unemployment remains high, a concern in a country with a large and restive youth demographic; agricultural production is low; one in seven women still dies in child birth—one of the world’s highest maternal mortality rates—and access to education, particularly for girls, is limited. A woman in South Sudan has a greater chance of dying in childbirth than completing school.
Though the MDTF-SS closes officially on May 28, 2013, the country will continue to benefit from international donor support for development through several sources, including a US$130 million credit from the World Bank Group’s Fund for the poorest countries, the International Development Association.
In a message at the closing ceremony of the MDTF-SS on Monday, President Salva Kir thanked the international community for its financial support.
“The World Bank and donors have provided assistance as part of the Multi-donor Trust Fund,” said Jervaz. “And we plan to continue working together to realize our mission of a peaceful and prosperous South Sudan.”.