Learn more about specific causes in The Republic of South Sudan that you can get involved in.
EnvironmentSouth Sudan faces many environmental concerns in light of sustained conflict and desperation within the nation. The largest threats to the health of the environment include soil degradation due to irresponsible agricultural practices and pollution from the oil industry.1 With an economy dependent on oil revenues and a populace dependent on agriculture for jobs and nutritional sustenance, South Sudan is particularly vulnerable to these types of environmental hazards.1
FamilyBecause of violent conflict, in 2017 there were over 2 million people internally displaced in South Sudan and another 1 million who were living in refugee camps in surrounding nations.1 The war has also caused many families to be separated, and there are a large number of orphans and abandoned children.2 Only 4% of women have access to contraceptives, which this contributes to large family sizes. Every woman gives birth to an average of five children.3
EducationNearly 75% of children are out of school, and this, combined with poor education funding, makes South Sudan among one of the worst places in the world for a child to receive an education. Only 10% of the population completes primary school which makes for an adult literacy rate of 27%.1 There are also gender discrepancies regarding access to education with only 33% of those in school being girls.1 The large amount of displaced and refugee children make it difficult for all to receive education, and there is also a severe lack of qualified teachers. Religious bodies are often instrumental in educating children, but even this is limited because of continued conflict.2
PovertyApproximately 50% of South Sudan’s population, or 6 million people, live below the poverty line.1 Corruption and conflict stop the government from providing the most basic needs to its citizens, and this leaves many families without adequate food or water supplies and safe living conditions.2 Humanitarian aid is desperately needed in South Sudan to curb the effects starvation could cause, but many international workers are barred from entering the nation.3
ReligionMost residents of South Sudan practice traditional tribal religions, but a minority identify with Christianity. Traditional religions, which approximately 85% of South Sudanese citizens practice, typically involve multiple gods of different hierarchical standings.1 Although freedom of religion is promised in the constitution, there are reports of religious persecution with many militant groups targeting places of worship.2
Clean WaterLimited access to clean water and sanitation services is a pressing problem in South Sudan. 32% of the population does not have access to drinking water.1 This has serious implications for the health and development of the citizens of South Sudan, particularly children. Only 15% of South Sudanese people are able to obtain sanitary latrines.2 After decades of war, the internal infrastructures of South Sudan were destroyed, making it extremely difficult to provide access to clean water and adequate sanitation.
EconomyYears of civil conflict have devastated South Sudan’s economy. Plagued with high inflation, widespread poverty, and dramatic income disparity, the South Sudanese government has many obstacles to overcome.1 South Sudan is the most oil-dependent economy in the world. In fact, oil comprises roughly 60% of the country’s GDP. Despite the large oil revenues, 80% of the workforce is employed in the agricultural sector, mostly in subsistence farming.2 High levels of political instability continually undermine economic growth and the development of a functional infrastructure that promotes business.3
GovernmentSouth Sudan is one of the youngest countries in the world, and independence was obtained in 2011 from Sudan through an internationally brokered peace agreement.1 This ended one of the longest civil wars in African history, which claimed 1.5 million lives. However, this did not end the war for South Sudan, as it then plunged into an ongoing civil war.2 This conflict has made it difficult for the government to provide services, stay clear of corruption, and remain functional. There is no accountability, little voter participation, and government officials are known to embezzle money.3
HealthFaced with widespread poverty, a relatively new government without a strong foundation, and a populace struggling to meet their own most basic needs, health conditions are considered among the worst in the world.1 In 2017, the country faced one of the worst famines in modern times with over one-third of the population experiencing severe hunger. This food shortage was exacerbated because some humanitarian aid organizations were not allowed into the country and there was poor control of where resources went.2 There is high prevalence of cholera and HIV/AIDS, and the life expectancy is only 58 years.3
ChildrenSouth Sudan is one of the worst countries in the world for children to live in. Because of prolonged conflict, over 1 million children have fled the country and another million have been internally displaced.1 Children are most susceptible to food insecurity—and hundreds of thousands of children had severe acute malnutrition in 2017. Boys are at risk for becoming child soldiers, and girls are often raped, forced into marriages, or abused.2 Over 50% of girls are married before age 18.3 Hunger, poverty, and poor health facilities are so widespread throughout the nation that South Sudan has one of the highest child mortality rates in the world with 160 out of every 1,000 children dying before age 5.4
Human RightsFreedom of the press is not protected, and many people speaking out in opposition to the government are subject to arrest or violence.1 Although the transitional constitution provides for freedom of association and assembly, this is not upheld. Those who speak out against the government or violent opposition groups can be unfairly harassed. The government is also hostile towards humanitarian workers, and in 2015, dozens of international aid workers went missing or were killed.1 Prison conditions are poor, with little food or sanitation structures for inmates who are often not given fair trials. Violence against women and girls is common, and often, they are raped based on their ethnicity.2
AnimalsSouth Sudan is home to magnificent animals and safari lands. However, many of these animals live on land that is not protected and are therefore susceptible to poachers and the effects of urbanization. The new government is struggling to create sustainable policies to protect animals.1 Giraffes, hippopotamuses, warthogs, buffalo, and zebras are common, but elephants are dwindling in numbers.2
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