Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The birth of a nation and challenges for the future

The people of southern Sudan have voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence

Election officials confirmed nearly 99% of voters who took part in a landmark vote in January favoured separation from the north. The move will pave the way for the creation of the world's newest nation by July.

In the past few months, tens of thousands of southern Sudanese have been returning home; most had been living in the north, some for decades.

Oxfam's emergency, preparedness and response team (EP and R team) has been intervening in some of the most crowded areas to help prevent the spread of disease. The team, funded by the European Commission Humanitarian Aid department, ECHO, has been working for the last few weeks in Leer county, Unity State, to provide some basic water and sanitation services to the local communities as well as the new returnees.

Southern Sudan remains one of the poorest and least developed regions in the world, and only recently emerged from decades of civil war.

After decades of war, southern Sudan needs to be built almost from scratch, and there are enormous challenges. Most people do not have access to clean water, sanitation, or adequate schools or healthcare.