AID began in response to concerns expressed by the Archbishop of Nigeria in 2008 about the Church in South Sudan, then the newest country in the world. Therefore South Sudan has always been a major focus of AID’s work. More recently AID has also begun to work in Uganda and Kenya. Please read below for information on these countries which informs and inspires our work.
South Sudan emerged as a new country after decades of civil war in which 2 million people were killed and 4 million were displaced. During this time infrastructure was destroyed, education and training neglected and governance undermined.
A vast country larger than western Europe, Sudan gained independence from the UK in 1956 but within itself remained disunited, with north pitted against south. Southerners sought greater representation in the governance of the country, which was largely dominated by northern Sudanese, whilst northerners looked to benefit from the rich resources of the south without giving those living there a say in their own affairs. These tensions escalated into the First Sudanese Civil War which took place between 1955 and 1972. After 11 years of ceasefire a second war – effectively a continuation of the first – broke out in 1983. This war saw the emergence of the rebel movement: the Sudanese People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) which was led by Dr John Garang. In 2005, this war ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) which was brokered by the US, the UK and Norway. In 2011, after a referendum in which 98.83% voted for independence, South Sudan officially gained its freedom from Sudan on 9th July. South Sudan (itself larger than France) has huge potential for development, but the challenges remain enormous.
Current Humanitarian Situation
The people of South Sudan suffer from extreme poverty and some of the world’s worst health conditions. For example, 1 in 28 women die in childbirth, and 1 in 7 children die before their 5th birthday. However, churches of all denominations are strong and have a reach into every community. Furthermore, the church is trusted, having played a vital role in looking after and supporting local people throughout decades of conflict. With meagre resources but enormous trust and faith, the church often intervened to save lives and homes in the face of extreme violence and oppression. Churches can play a central role in stabilising the new country.
Current Political Situation
South Sudan, only a few years after receiving its independence has broken down into civil war. This has largely been caused by corrupt leadership from different groups seeking dominance. This is highlighted by ‘Transparency International’s’ most recent 2016 ‘Corruption Perceptions Index’ in which South Sudan ranked 175th (out of 176 countries). Thousands are crossing the border daily to escape the violence and insecurity plaguing South Sudan. Though full blown war seems more unlikely as time passes, the country is stagnant and hope is distant.
Uganda gained independence from Britain in 1962 and since then has had periods of conflict and civil war, it is now relatively peaceful and developing though corruption is still a big issue. It is the world’s second most populous, landlocked country and very passionate about football.
AID, in partnership with the ICMDA, is training South Sudanese students to be health workers in a hospital in Kampala and, more recently, has started an agriculture programme in the North of Uganda, working both with South Sudanese refugees and Ugandans.
Kenya gained independence from Britain in 1963 and has the largest GDP in East and Central Africa. AID is currently working with the diocese of Kirinyaga to support a microfinance project the diocese set up.