Message from the Representative
The year 2012 was an eventful year and one that marked the beginning of the first programme of cooperation (2012-2013), between UNICEF and the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, which builds on gains made following the 2005 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA). The country programme responds to the unique requirements of the new country, and aims to lay the foundation for rapid acceleration of sustainable delivery of services for children in the new State, in progressive realization of their rights.
The children of South Sudan, in this first full year of independence, have faced a myriad of challenges to the realization of their rights through the dividends of peace and independence. Political tension with the Sudan and the resulting shutdown of the oil pipeline deepened the economic stress in the country. Humanitarian needs remained consistently high with some 175,000 Sudanese fleeing Sudan’s Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states and large scale internal displacement of more than 170,000 people due to internal conflict. However, despite the increased economic, political and communal instability, the country has managed to pull-back from large scale conflict erupting, avoided a major economic collapse and survived massive shocks.
Strong and enduring partnerships with national and international organizations and governments were instrumental in 2012, and determined many achievements. Thanks to these partnerships, the UNICEF- Government of South Sudan programme of cooperation has seen some notable achievements;
Key legislative and policy frameworks have been completed - The General Education Bill was passed by Parliament and the General Education Strategic Plan (GESP) was finalized, the Justice for Children Strategic Framework, and a three-year (2012-15) Action and Investment plan for Rural WASH was developed and endorsed. A draft strategy for Girls’ Education as well as curriculum guidelines for Life skills Education has been developed. In addition, broad consultations were held with youth and other stakeholders resulting in the drafting of a revised national Youth Policy.
Coverage of key basic services has continued to improve - South Sudan has remained free of polio for over 3 years and cases of Guinea Worm Disease have reduced by 50% since 2011 with the total likely to be below 600. The Country Office has continued to work towards sustainable service delivery through addressing national and state capacity gaps leading to enhanced coverage for children.
Funding for Education has enhanced - Appraisal of the GESP was completed leading to a successful application for Global Partnership in Education membership resulting in an allocation of USD36.1 million for three years. A further USD12 million was also confirmed from the Qatar Foundation through Educate a Child Initiative. This has provided much needed capital for strengthening the education system and demonstrating modalities for increasing basic education completion in South Sudan.
Timely and adequate humanitarian assistance has been provided to population affected by crises - including to 80,000 returnees from Sudan via Renk (Upper Nile State) and to 170,000 refugees in Unity and Upper Nile States. In particular, over 60,000 children benefitted from social welfare and protection services including family tracing/linking and reunification, psychosocial support services and community based care. Also, more than 80,000 severe acute malnourished children were treated.
Our successes must, however, be balanced with the considerable challenges that South Sudan continues to face. Whilst health indicators have improved over the years, child survival continues to be a key concern. Just about a third of all children have received full routine immunization, under-5 mortality is still quite high at about 105 per 1,000 live births, and the maternal mortality rate is the highest in the world reaching 2,054 per 100,000 live births.
Approximately 1.3 million primary school children are currently not attending school. The situation is particularly dire for girls. Only 13 percent of girls who enroll in grade one complete primary school, and less than one per cent make it through secondary school. Only 27 per cent of adults are literate, and among young women (15-24 years) the literacy rate is a mere 13 per cent.
Securing longer term predictable funding to support systems building remains a challenge and added to this is the high cost of doing business in South Sudan which was exacerbated in 2012 with austerity measures, high inflation, shortages of fuel, difficult terrain and insecurity affecting transportation costs.
In 2013 and beyond, UNICEF will continue work with the Government of South Sudan to face these challenges and support the realization of child rights throughout the country.
I would like to thank our donors for their generous support throughout the year. Despite the continued global financial crisis, the Government of South Sudan and UNICEF attracted significant funding from a wide number of Governments and UNICEF National Committees.
Lastly, I would also like to thank all our partners and well-wishers for supporting the children and women of South Sudan.
We look forward to your continued support in the year ahead.
Dr. Iyorlumun J. Uhaa