Text – taken from the LWF wesbite (http://www.lutheranworld.org/lwf/)
Mary Obara (Kenya) has served as LWF Department for World Service (DWS) Sudan program coordinator since April 2009.
She spoke to Lutheran World Information about the response of LWF/DWS to the needs of the South Sudanese people as they emerge from a protracted war, and her hopes for the new nation.
The LWF is an important part of the massive humanitarian operation for South Sudan that has involved various actors.
The LWF has responded to emerging emergencies caused by drought, floods, high population movement and internal tribal conflict.
The LWF has also supported the formation of community structures during the recovery and reconstruction phase of South Sudan. These structures will form the foundation for further development initiatives.
With initiatives in food production, school construction and provision of water sources, the LWF has supported the South Sudanese to ensure their livelihoods and their right to food, education and other basic services like water.
As a result of these programs, the communities with which the LWF works are more aware of their rights. They are able to manage resources like water and are quickly learning to engage in activities like farming and small business initiatives to achieve self-sufficiency.
These efforts are geared to address the dependency syndrome cultivated by two decades of war during which communities entirely depended on aid provided through food drops or in refugee camps.
Challenges for the Future
Challenges include the lack of a clearly structured government and a framework for sustained activities.
Also, low levels of literacy have made it hard to change cultural practices that have been the norm for a long time. This especially has been the case in areas like response to hygiene practices, education for girls and women’s empowerment.
Hope for the Future
There is great hope for South Sudan.
It is a new nation with challenges ranging from lack of government capacity and very little infrastructure to limited human skills. But it has a huge natural resource base that, if used well, could propel the country’s development very fast.
It is a nation that now will have an opportunity to develop itself at a pace it desires, in areas it prioritizes.
The new country has a lot to do but will have the support of the huge goodwill of the international community.