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South Sudan: The World’s Youngest Nation in Jeopardy

 

As the youngest nation in the world, South Sudan’s setting has been characterised by border disputes, ethnic violence, weak governance and high poverty and segregation. Currently, 11.5 million people live in extreme poverty in South Sudan, which amounts to approximately 85.1% of the population. Our forecasts suggest that continuously rising poverty levels will result in 95.8% of South Sudan’s people living under $US1.90 a day. In Figure 1, we can see that by 2030, over 14 million people will face extreme poverty.

 

Figure 1: Number of people living in extreme poverty; Source: World Poverty Clock

 

The leadership conflict in the country has undermined the development of a diversified economy and growth. As a result, 85 percent of the working population is engaged in non-wage work and employed in agriculture or the rearing of livestock. Oil production contributes to 99% of South Sudan’s export revenue and 60% of its GDP. Due to its dependence on the volatile pricing of oil, GDP per capita fell from US$1,111 in 2014 to less than US$200 in 2017. The fiscal deficit in South Sudan has led to soaring inflation levels and immense food scarcity.

 

Since most consumer goods are imported, it is estimated that around 7 million people in South Sudan are experiencing near-famine hunger. Over 2.5 million South Sudanese have fled the country, producing the largest refugee crisis in Africa since the Rwandan genocide.

 

Despite leaders signing a power-sharing agreement last week, the country’s economic conditions require sustainable aid, access to employment opportunities and financing for private sector developments. The UN estimates that US$1.7 billion in humanitarian aid would be required to somewhat stabilise South Sudan’s extreme poverty levels. Only if the conditions of a ceasefire are upheld, can South Sudan focus on economic recovery.

 

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