Last July 9, 2013, I was privileged to have witnessed the celebration of the 2nd independence day of the newest country in the world, South Sudan.
After decades of civil war, the Republic of South Sudan finally gained full independence from Sudan on 9 July 2011. Development progress is somehow evident already in the capital, Juba, in terms of infrastructure and real estate development. However, the city is still far from being a modern capital city.
The whole country still lags behind in terms of basic social services and other infrastructure facilities like paved roads as well as having an airport with no international civil aviation standards and river channels not having been made navigable.
There is no electricity supply yet in most part of the country including the capital Juba. Businesses and offices make much use of generators. Water supplies are mostly from boreholes or River Nile fetched by water tank trucks, and being delivered daily to every household. Drinking water are mostly from imported plastic water bottles available at small shops.
Aside from the limited access to social services, widespread epidemic diseases has been plaguing the country, with Malaria and Typhoid cases rising in numbers.
Social unrest and tribal wars that causes widespread conflict displacement in certain states have also escalated since the country gained its Independence. Other crimes such as robberies, ambush, car hijacking, and killings have intensified the past few months particularly in the main roads leading to Juba. Expatriates humanitarian NGO workers have now become primary targets of crimes since the beginning of this year.
Only after two years of independence, the government’s reputation has already been tarnished by rampant corruption and political instability. Hence, South Sudan entered the international community as one the poorest countries in the world with more than half of the population surviving below the poverty.
However, despite the immense challenges facing the country, its people are still hopeful that the country can move beyond these social problems and eventually enjoy its status as the newest sovereign nation in the world.
But for now, South Sudanese are celebrating their new found freedom, relishing the end of decades of war.
Peace and prosperity to South Sudan!