South Sudan, donors discuss development priorities

South Sudan’s government outlined on Wednesday (Dec. 14) its priorities and plans to jumpstart the development of the newly independent country, earning pledges of support from key donors such as the United States, Norway and the Netherlands.

In his remarks before an international conference in Washington, South Sudan President Salva Kiir Mayardit said his government will prioritize building strong state institutions, rooting out corruption, promoting transparent and accountable governance, disarming militias, and accelerating nation building.

These priorities were largely welcomed by officials of donor countries, international organizations and private firms attending the International Engagement Conference for South Sudan, which runs through Dec. 15.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton promised assistance for the development of South Sudan’s private sector through technical assistance from the U.S. Agency for International Development and new trade policies. Clinton also identified agriculture as a priority sector for U.S. aid in the country, with USAID launching a host of initiatives aimed at developing the sector.

The European Union also announced assistance for South Sudan’s agriculture sector. The bloc said it will spend €80 million ($104 million) to help improve rural infrastructure, provide easier access to land and services, strengthen water management and support small-holder farmers in the country. The money is to be drawn from the €200 million aid package the EU promised for South Sudan in May.

Meanwhile, the Netherlands’s four-year bilateral program for South Sudan — worth some €75 million — will focus on rule of law, food security and water resource management, according to Dutch Minister of European Affairs and International Cooperation Ben Knapen.

World Bank President Robert Zoellick was also at the event, where he announced the bank is working with South Sudan’s other development partners to organize a donor conference in 2012, with the working theme “the effective use of resources for results.”

The International Engagement Conference for South Sudan is hosted by the United States, the United Kingdom, Norway and Turkey, along with the the European Union, African Union, United Nations, World Bank, International Finance Corp., Corporate Council on Africa and nongovernmental organizations network InterAction.

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributes to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.