The Sudd Institute in 2015
Author: Jok Madut Jok
Date: 24 December 2015
In 2015 South Sudan has remained in serious turmoil. The civil war has defied the efforts of mediators, directly and indirectly killing thousands of people, with the rest of the population living on edge. Close to 4 million people have experienced disastrous food deficits, with roughly 200,000 people living in the United Nations civilian protection sites, all across the country. Several minor anti-government rebellions broke out in Western, Central and Eastern Equaotria and violence, political or communal, has continued to consume Jonglei, Lakes, Unity and Upper Nile states. Much of this violence is linked to the two-year old civil war, but some of it is ethnic-based, old and partly driven by competition over dwindling economic resources.
Other horrendous events that led to the death of hundreds of South Sudanese include random criminal attacks in urban centers, targeting of activists, and attacks on highways and deadly sectional warfare in parts of Warrap and Lakes states. The explosion of a fuel tanker in Mundri, Western Equatoria, in September, killing 200 people, shocked everybody, both in its death toll and the lack or delayed response from the country’s authorities. All of these deaths have demonstrated both the fragility of life in the country during the last two years, as well as the inability or unwillingness of public institutions to protect the citizenry.
South Sudan’s economy, apart from its mismanagement by the Juba-based authorities, and the high cost of war, has suffered major shocks, from the decline of oil production due to the civil war, the drop in oil prices, and the recent depreciation of the national currency, the South Sudan Pound. This depreciation has particularly brought the country’s population under serious pressure as commodity prices skyrocketed. This pressure is likely to continue into the New Year, perhaps beyond, but will remain unpredictable for the foreseeable future. But all through the ravages of violence, the economic challenges and the narrowing political space for people living in urban centers, there remains an incredible hope about the IGAD-led peace process that is aimed at reconciling the government of Salva Kiir Mayardit with the armed opponents led by Riek Machar. Throughout the year the Sudd Institute has maintained a program of balanced public analysis that attempted to improve the understanding of the complex politics and nuances of the policy debates on these and other significant issues facing the country.
The Sudd Institute’s work, which tries to inform decision-making on critical policy matters of South Sudan and its international relations, took our researchers to all secure corners of the country for field research and outreach, most of which has resulted in public events held every month in Juba and supported by the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). Some of this analysis has criticized public officials and the political leadership of the country, all with an eye to pointing out major policy deficits and offering possible remedies/policy interventions.
The Sudd Institute provided a platform for policy-makers and experts to engage in open debates with a national audience and with the representatives of the international community in the country. Prominent politicians, academics, journalists, civil society activists, and a variety of invited speakers from the neighboring sister countries and beyond, have come through the Institute for consultations or have participated in this year’s public events.
Our publications included monthly reports, policy briefs and weekly reviews, all of them covering security and violence, peace and reconciliation, political parties and democratic reforms, corruption and the rule of law, service delivery, constitution and national cohesion, and the economy and the diminishing livelihoods, oil dependency and the environment, South Sudan’s foreign policy and its declining status in the community of nations. The Institute also reported on specific events, especially on the on-going war and the efforts to broker a deal to settle it. In examining trends in South Sudan’s policy dynamics, our research assessed the ability of the young country to recover from the self-inflicted wounds of the last decade since it embarked on the drive to secede from Sudan.
Considering stability is now likely to be attained in the country, especially with the return of political exiles and the SPLM-IO just before Christmas, the Sudd Institute will mobilize resources to enable its analysts to pay close attention to a number of policy analysis priority areas, including security (both physical and economic), service delivery (health, education, and policing), natural resources management, peace and reconciliation, and governance.
If you are interested in a full review of the Sudd Institute’s outputs in 2015, the publications are available for free on the website: www.suddinstitute.org. Questions related to accessing these resources can be directed to our research director, August Ting Mayai at firstname.lastname@example.org and/or our interim communication officer, Zacharia Diing Akol at email@example.com.
The Sudd Institute is grateful for financial support received from a variety of donors and partners, especially the UNDP, and on behalf of the entire team I thank you all for your generosity during 2015. Wishing you all a peaceful, healthy and productive 2016.
Jok Madut Jok
The Sudd Institute Board of Supervisors
+211 955 169 174