Development Assistance versus Humanitarian Aid: Which will Help South Sudan to Move out of its Perennial Crisis Mode
Author: Jok Madut Jok
Organization: The Sudd Institute
Type: Weekly Reviews
Seven weeks since the Transitional government of National Unity was formed, however, international development assistance to South Sudan remains shut. The countries that sponsored South Sudan’s peace process have suggested that they have not really cut aid to South Sudan, but have simply channeled it toward humanitarian programs and away from direct government budget support and from contribution to funding public projects. This suspension was effected soon after the war broke out as a form of punishment to the government for escalating the war, a punishment many South Sudanese hoped would end as soon as the peace agreement was implemented. Many steps have been taken by South Sudanese over the last two months toward this implementation. These efforts are still lacking in major ways, but the promised resumption of aid was not to be. The donor world seems to remain outraged about the inclusion of certain personalities in the unity government, people who had previously been accused of presiding over the near demise of the country, and yet were reinstated. With them sitting at the helm of power, the world community seems to signal that there will be no bailout, out of fear that such assistance would go the same way it did before the war, into the pockets of these same individuals. The current Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, David Deng Athorbei, has particularly been seen by many in the international community as someone whose role is considered counterproductive to the economic well-being of the distressed nation. His reinstatement, therefore, surfaces as disregard to the concerns of those who want to help South Sudan embark on more productive reforms.
In short, the donors have pegged the resumption of aid to a number of specific demands that they believe the leaders of South Sudan must meet in order to build confidence in the government’s capacity to address head-on the crises facing the country. These demands include, among many, the establishment of the so-called Transitional Government of National Unity, followed by major institutional reforms, instituting fiscal and monetary policies that would re-stabilize the national economy, particularly through reduction in public expenditure and to stop the wastage of national resources through mismanagement and diversion. The donors have also suggested that direct financial assistance to government can only happen again through a negotiated process that would involve the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and complete with conditions that could be quite painful in the short term but necessary for long term recovery.
Jok Madut Jok is cofounder of the Sudd Institute. Born and raised in Sudan, Jok studied in Egypt and the United States. He is trained in the anthropology of health and holds a Ph.D. from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA). Jok recently joined the Government of South Sudan as undersecretary in the Ministry of Culture and Heritage. He was a J. Randolph Senior Fellow at the United States Institute of Peace and a fellow at the Rift Valley Institute. He is a Professor in the Department of History at Loyola Marymount University in California, from which he is on an extended leave. He has also worked in aid and development, first as a humanitarian aid worker and has been a consultant for a number of aid agencies. He is the author of three books and numerous articles covering gender, sexuality and reproductive health, humanitarian aid, ethnography of political violence, gender-based violence, war and slavery, and the politics of identity in Sudan. His book Sudan: Race, Religion and Violence, was published in 2007. Jok is co-editor of The Sudan Handbook, 2010.