The Republic of South Sudan became the world’s newest nation and Africa’s 55th country on July 9, 2011. Renewed conflicts in December 2013 and July 2016 have undermined the development gains achieved since independence and worsened the humanitarian situation. As a consequence, South Sudan remains severely impacted fragility, economic stagnation, and instability a decade after independence. Poverty is ubiquitous and is being reinforced by ongoing intercommunal conflict, displacement, and external shocks.
The signing of a revitalized peace agreement in September 2018 and subsequent formation of Government in February 2020 have contributed to recovery and peace-building. Conflict events decreased significantly in 2019, allowing some refugees previously displaced in the region to return. At the same time, a resumption of oil production in oil fields previously shutdown due to conflict had raised the prospects of an oil-led recovery. The country, however, faces the risk of these gains being reversed, with increasing incidents of subnational violence in 2021 and early 2022, flooding and the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbating an already dire situation.
South Sudan remains in a serious humanitarian crisis. Some two-thirds of South Sudan's population, 8.9 million people, are estimated to be in need of humanitarian assistance in 2022, an increase of 600,000 since 2021. Extreme levels of acute food insecurity persist across the country and an estimated 8.3 million people, including refugees, are expected to experience severe food insecurity in the coming lean season. Almost 4 million people remain displaced by the humanitarian crisis, with nearly 1.6 million people displaced internally and some 2.3 million refugees in six neighboring countries. Women and children continue to be the most affected. The increase in needs is largely driven by the rising food insecurity, the triple shock of sub-national violence, a second consecutive year of major flooding, and the impacts of COVID-19, deepening an already dire humanitarian crisis.
South Sudan is highly prone and vulnerable to climate-related shocks that have devastating impacts on people’s welfare. Since independence in 2011, the country has suffered severe droughts and floods, severely impacting the country’s development efforts. The most recent floods (May-November 2021) – reportedly the most devastating since the early 1960s – are estimated to have affected 9 out of 10 states, impacting 800,000 to 1.2 million people and displacing more than 300,000 people.
Due to lower oil exports, government revenues, and disrupted agricultural production, the economy contracted by an estimated 5.4 percent in FY2020/21, while 4 in 5 individuals remain under the international poverty line. In the agriculture sector, flooding precipitated estimated losses of 38,000 tons of cereals (3.6% of 2021 gross cereal production) and 800,000 livestock according to FAO estimates. These events had detrimental effects on household wellbeing as flooding was concentrated in areas that were already facing high levels of food insecurity.
Living conditions continue to be impacted by violence, displacement, and climate shocks. At the same time, public expenditures on key social sectors including health, education, water and sanitation, and agriculture and rural development are limited. Among the most affected population groups, internally displaced populations experience significant service delivery gaps which impacts their quality of life. A significant proportion of IDPs do not have adequate access to safe water and sanitation infrastructure and healthcare services, with a high level of food insecurity. While access to healthcare services is high across IDP sites, the limited availability of medicines and discrimination have been cited as significant constraints on healthcare service delivery among the IDP population. At the same time, food security indicators show that large proportions of these populations experience inadequate food consumption.
The main priorities of the government are to address the underlying causes of the conflict and to stabilize the economy. Going forward, strengthening service delivery institutions, governance, and economic and public financial management systems will prove critical as the country seeks to build resilience to future shocks, providing building blocks for a diversified, inclusive, and sustainable growth path. As the economy recovers from multiple shocks, sustaining the momentum into the medium-term will also crucially depend on the government’s ability to stimulate the creation of a sufficient number of quality jobs to absorb a young and expanding labor force.
Last Updated: Apr 21, 2022