South Sudan one year later
Independence for South Sudan has been a long time coming, but as it comes up to one year as a new nation, there are still many issues to overcome.
“We definitely could have expected more to have happened by now, but the freedom itself is key,” said Bishop Rev. Anthony Poggo.
Poggo is in Saskatchewan from South Sudan, thanking those who have supported his community through the Saskatoon-based Southern Sudan Humanitarian Action Development Agency and talking about the future of his country.
On July 9, 2011, people in South Sudan voted overwhelmingly in support of creating their own nation.
“Having this new nation is exciting because we now know at long last the war has ended,” Poggo said.
“Voting for separation and having peace for us was an end to marginalization and many south Sudanese when we became a new nation many people felt, at long last we are first class citizens in our own nation and they felt, we now have freedom.”
Civil war had plagued Sudan, since 1950s and while outright war no longer exists, the problems are far from over.
There are issues around where the border lies and around rights to the oil reserves, said Poggo.
When the Sudan’s government started taking a share of oil revenues to make up for South Sudan’s use of existing infrastructure and port, the government of South Sudan turned off the flow of oil.
“The government of the south didn’t think that was right or fair,” Poggo said.
However the decision has meant a loss of revenue for both countries.
“Because the loss of revenue by our government, it has now meant that the government is taking austerity measures,” he said.
“With the loss of income it has meant that people are not enjoying the fruits of independence as they should.”
But there have been some positive changes, a new road connect Poggo’s community of Kajo Keji, to the new nation’s capital of Juba, while provide new income opportunities.
A trip over the old route could take nearly 13 hours in the rainy season, but a bridge has opened a new route taking only four hours for about 70 kilometres. When it rains that time increases as drivers must wait for swollen rivers to recede before continuing on their journeys.
“We hope that once the road is done, we could do the trip in less than two hours,” Poggo said.
With the road, farmers in the Kajo Keji area will be able to get their products to market, something historically they were unable to do.
“If we have this food taken to Juba because the roads are better then it means it would be an incentive for the farmers to cultivate more … it helps improve their standard of living,” Poggo said.
“Because we’ve been at war all this time, we have one of the highest rates of illiteracy. We also have one of the highest rates of children who die at birth.”
With money earned in the market, families will be able to buy soap, salt, bed nets to prevent malaria, and have school fees for the children, he said.
Rev. Anthony Poggo is speaking at St. John’s Anglican Cathedral Hall in Saskatoon at 7:30 p.m.
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