Is US aid Helping Southern Sudan Move Forward?

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton shakes hands with Sudanese Vice President Ali Osman Taha after their bilateral meeting at the Waldorf-Astoria in New York, on Sept. 21. Photo by: U.S. State Department

As Southern Sudan prepares to secede next year, there is little evidence that the region is capable of being independent.

A report commissioned by the U.S. Agency for International Development in June found that “capacity building efforts in Southern Sudan are currently neither strategic nor focused. With few exceptions, [the] objectives are sweeping, unspecific, detached from actual performance, impossible to measure, and thus unlikely to succeed,” Newsweek reports.

Humanitarian officials in Juba argue that aid for Southern Sudan focused more on “recovery” efforts, restoring basic social services, and less on institution building.

“You had the wrong kind of people here for the first five years,” one veteran aid official in Juba said on condition of anonymity. “We should have brought in these old Brits who built the central bank of Botswana. Most of the people who know how to construct state structures are lying drunk on the beaches of Zanzibar. Instead, we brought in all these Oxford and Ivy League grads [with other expertise].”

Newsweek concludes: “ Whatever happens, the United States is unlikely to abandon Southern Sudan altogether. The U.S. foreign-policy tradition has always displayed a strong idealistic streak alongside its pursuit of the national interest, and that won’t disappear … depending on the times, statesmen in Washington tend to toggle between crusading moralism and cold-eyed pragmatism … Americans will probably always seek to heal far-flung spots like Southern Sudan. If they want to be effective, however, they’ll also need to heal themselves.”

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.

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