APPG for Sudan and South Sudan report
From the 9th to 15th of April 2012 a delegation of five parliamentarians travelled to South Sudan as representatives of the Associate Parliamentary Group for Sudan and South Sudan, the All Party Parliamentary Group on Agriculture and Food for Development, and the Inter-Parliamentary Union. The delegation was accompanied by an expert in agricultural development, Dr. Guy Poulter, Senior Fellow at the National Resources Institute.
The visit coincided with critical political developments. During our time in South Sudan conflict along the border with Sudan escalated, notably with the SPLA’s occupation of Heiglig (also known as Panthou in South Sudan) and Sudan’s retaliation. We were struck by the pride expressed by many South Sudanese towards this military strategy and how this sharply contrasted with the condemnation and concern expressed by the international representatives with whom we met1. The worst-case scenario of an all-out war between Sudan and South Sudan, all too likely at the time of our visit, has not come to pass at the anniversary of South Sudan’s independence. The AU Roadmap for peace, supported by UN Resolution 2046, was accepted by both sides on the 4th of May and brings some promise, with the opening of a new round of negotiations in Addis Ababa which began at the end of May. However, the APG is extremely conscious of the difficult nature of the issues which have yet to be resolved between the two countries, not least border demarcation and the sharing of oil revenues.
Our visit focused on food security and agricultural development in South Sudan. South Sudan’s potential for agricultural development is a common catchphrase for those advocating for diversification of the economy, and the Government of South Sudan has prioritised food production with the initial aim of making the country food self sufficient by the end of 2015. At the same time, low agricultural production, widespread insecurity, returning populations and refugees fleeing insecurity in Sudanese states of Blue Nile and South Kordofan, commercial blockages and a sharp increase in commodity prices means food insecurity has reached crisis levels in six of the ten states in South Sudan. The on-going dependence of national revenue on the expendable (and currently inoperative) oil sector places the twin goals of agricultural development and food security in an even sharper focus.
The joint visit set out to:
Assess the situation in South Sudan with a particular focus on the critical issues of food security and agricultural development. This assessment incorporated the broader context of the current political situation; peace and security considerations; the delivery of basic services, markets and infrastructure; existing international donor strategies as well as; South Sudan’s current economic, and human rights record;
Analyse progress towards internationally agreed targets such as MDG 1 to halve the proportion of hungry people by 2015 and the CAADP Maputo Declaration to allocate 10% of South Sudan’s overall budget to agricultural development;
Seek to understand the role of the International Community, in particular donors such as the UK Government, in contributing towards food security and supporting the Government of South Sudan in delivering upon its priorities and meeting the most basic needs of its citizens;
Build understanding and develop connections between Parliamentarians in the UK and in South Sudan as well as between the Governments of the two countries, reinforcing the commitment of UK Parliamentarians to South Sudan and tackling the challenges that it continues to face.
The delegation was struck by the potential of this young country, its hopeful people, fertile land, undiscovered natural resources, and strategic location within the region. We believe that the UK government has a historic relationship with Sudan and South Sudan – both pre-1956, and more recently as a guarantor of the CPA and member of the Troika – and continues to have a key role to play.
The delegation urges:
Continued, long term engagement – both politically and through donor mechanisms
Coordination and collaboration with the international community, including regional players such as Kenya and Uganda
Continued positive engagement and support for the Government of South Sudan
The APG for Sudan and South Sudan is extremely grateful to the Inter-Parliamentary Union for its support for this visit.