As we celebrated the birthday of America, another country just marked its first birthday a few days after. The Republic of South Sudan passed a referendum July 9, 2011 to secede from Sudan as an independent government. Two major civil wars caused rippling and devastating effects to the people, resulting in many fleeing the nation. Refugees scattered across various in attempts to stabilize their lives from the atrocities from home. Families must now start over. Imagine having to move to a land not knowing how to contact lost family members or how to start a new life. Many refugees who fled Sudan now travel back to South Sudan. First settlers into the Americas came into struggles like the people of South Sudan struggle to start new life. However, the early settlers into the Americas began life in a bountiful land of resources, whereas the refugees are coming into a land of hardship. The region of this new nation always struggled with famine, health care and overall social and economic stability.
While oil reserves remain a promising source of income for Southern Sudan, the governments of Sudan and South Sudan deliberate how to split oil reserves. War tensions remain, relegating focus from economic stability to military efforts. The central government of Southern Sudan faces daily test of providing its citizens with basic needs like food and health care. Food shortages due to drought from climate change vary year to year. To the dismay of millions, rains decreased and crops waned, exacerbating the source of food and income since 2010. The situation demands the attention of the world as a test of humanity.
Oxfam has been working with the Sudan and South Sudan region for decades. The major goals to aid the South Sudan focuses on helping refugees become independent. Specifically in South Kordofan, where continued violence and food shortages leave civilians in disarray, Oxfam distributes seeds for planting, improves supplies of clean water, protects health of livestock and helps people launch small businesses. And Oxfam affiliate based in Juba adds assistance to Jamam camps of Upper Nile state. In Darfur alone, a region experiencing high levels of severe violence and conflict, Oxfam focuses on assisting the region by:
- providing clean water, sanitation, and hygiene program with the help of water engineers to make pumps, tanks, pipes and taps
- ensuring camps have latrines, baths, soap, water
- educating people regarding hygiene and keeping water safe for drinking
- offering grants and loans to farmers and small businesses
- empowering women with high efficiency stoves to feed families and compete with food market, while helping to protect the environment
While South Sudan is struggling on its first birthday, continued efforts will allow the country to grow. With boost in awareness of the work of Oxfam and collaborating agencies, financial support, and pressure on legislators to support the government of South Sudan, we can hope for continued independence and success in this new nation. Happy Birthday to South Sudan and to many more.
To find out more, visit Oxfam at http://www.oxfamamerica.org/emergencies/conflict-in-the-sudans/what-oxfam-is-doing