By James Monyluak de Mijok Thon, Lethbridge, Canada
October 7, 2011 (SSNA) — The people of South Sudan at this critical moment need RSS government to deliver some serious projects and programs to address some serious social problems such as public, private, and special education, public health care issues, housing issues, roads improvement, water shortages, public insecurity, food insecurity, infant mortality, crimes, underage drinking, teenage pregnancy, families matters, tribalism, racism, nepotism, gender relations, unemployment, massive poverty, growing gap of social classes in South Sudan, domestic violence, environmental pollution, urban decay and many more, just to name a few. Most of the aforementioned social problems are the obstacle to overall welfare of South Sudanese nowadays.
From sociological perspective, social problems, also called social issues, affect every society, great and small. Even in relatively isolated, sparsely populated areas, a group will encounter social problems. Part of this, is due to the fact that any members of a society living close enough together will have conflicts. It’s virtually impossible to avoid them, and even people who live together in the same house don’t always get along seamlessly. On the whole though, when social problems are mentioned, they tend to refer to the problems that affect people living together in a society.
The issue of massive poverty, food shortages, lack of basic hygiene, and spread of incurable diseases, intra and inter-tribal conflicts, and lack of education inhibit the development of South Sudan society. Moreover, these problems are related to each other and it can seem hard to address one without addressing all of them.
It would be easy to assume that a social problem only affects the people whom it directly touches, but this is not the case. Easy spread of disease, for instance may tamper with the society at large, and it’s easy to see how this has operated in certain areas of Africa. The spread of HIV/AIDs in some African countries, for instance, has created more problems because it has cost the societies economically, socially, culturally, and politically. HIV/AIDs aren’t a single problem but a complex cause of numerous ones. Similarly, unemployment/massive poverty, illiteracy, lack of basic medical care, and shortages of clean drinking water in South Sudan don’t just affect those considered the victims, but affects the whole society, so to speak.
In a nutshell, nobody is exempted from the ongoing social problems in South Sudan. The massive poverty, unemployment, illiteracy, intra & inter- tribal conflicts, cattle rustling, militant rebellions, infant mortality, lack of adequate health care, just to name a few, all these affect us all – directly or indirectly, and that is why they must be addressed away by the people’s government.
Some revolution lessons from other countries compared to South Sudan liberation wars:
When certain groups or individuals rebel against the ruling government within a given countries, there are always reasons why they do so. Other countries had some revolutions in the past due to socio-economic problems that they had faced. South Sudan too fought a number of civil wars for socio-economic reasons as well.
The Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution, commonly known as the Cultural Revolution was a socio-political movement that took place in the People’s Republic of China from 1966 through 1976. Set into motion by Mao Zedong, then Chairman of the Communist Party of China, it was designed to further advance socialism in the country by removing capitalist elements from Chinese society, and impose Maoist orthodoxy within the Party. The aim was to restore Socialism-Marxist economic ideology for a post-commodity economic system, meaning that production is carried out to maximize use-value (to directly satisfy human needs, or demand) rather than to exchange on the market to generate a profit (to maximize exchange-value). The stage in which the accumulation of capital was viable and effective is rendered insufficient at the socialist stage of social and economic development, leading to a situation where production is carried out independently of capital accumulation in a planned fashion.
The 1959 Cuban Revolution was a successful armed revolt by Fidel Castro’s 26th of July Movement, which overthrew the US-backed Cuban dictator Fulgencio Batista on 1 January 1959, after over five years of struggle. According to geographer and Cuban Commandant Antonio Nunez Jimenez, 75% of Cuba’s best arable land was owned by foreign individuals or foreign (mostly U.S.) companies. One of the first policies of the newly formed Cuban government was eliminating illiteracy and implementing land reforms. Land reform efforts helped to raise living standards by subdividing larger holdings into cooperatives.
The Russian Revolution is the collective term for a series of revolutions in Russia in 1917, which destroyed the Tsarist autocracy and led to the creation of the Soviet Union. In a tsarist autocracy, all power and wealth were controlled (and distributed) by the Tsar Nicholas II.
All these revolutions had the same commonalties; that they meant to change socio-political or socio-economic situations within these countries so that the living conditions of their citizens improve.
South Sudan, too fought long and costly wars so that after independence, as we have achieved so, the ordinary citizens of this richer country would not be the same again as it has been the case since 1821 when foreigners entered and started to divide the country on religious and ethnic lines. South Sudanese people had been marginalized for so long and its people fought these wars to end this socio-economic or socio-political marginalization and create a system that alleviate people lives and not the former.
What is needed then to address these social problems in South Sudan after independence?
Well, there need to be some specific projects and programs designed and are implemented sooner to address these looming problems right away.
Projects and Programs:
Projects, by definition, are temporary activities with a starting date, specific goals and conditions, defined responsibilities, a budget, a planning, a fixed end date and multiple parties involved. This is always aimed to address some immediate social problem (s). On the other hand, programs, by definition, are plans of action aimed at accomplishing a clear business objectives, with details on what work is to be done, by whom, when, and what means or resources will be used. This could be a short or a long term plans of action depending on the scope of the program (s) itself.
Projects and programs needed now:
Installation of more water boreholes or water points in more villages/Bomas, Payams or Counties:
The most urgent problem in South Sudan now is water shortages. Dr Garang once said during the grand signing of the CPA in Nairobi, Kenya that SPLM base government in South Sudan slogans for development is “shall take towns to people” and not people to towns where they end up in slums as it happened in many countries. Garang had a clear plan for rural development prioritization and strategies. His untimely death had also mean leaving behind some challenging issues that could not be tackled easily by the current leadership given his overall leadership on the basis of organizational and methodological approach or abilities if you will.
In his public address to South Sudanese masses at Rumbek Freedom Square, in May 2005 in Lakes State, South Sudan, Garang laid out some crucial 13 Highways network development plan that would have connected ten states along with Southern Blue Nile, Southern Kordofan, Darfur, and neighbouring countries as well. Many people were more hopeful that these promises were going to be executed accordingly had Garang lived on to implement what he lectured for years during the war in regards to the development of South Sudan; however, the current leadership could have carried on with the same plans had it not been hampered by the previous mismanagement of public funds and poor dealing with both national and international construction companies that took away millions of Dollars without fully executing the construction projects awarded to them.
Now, today, federal, state, and local governments need to build more water points or boreholes in many places because many Southerners in their respective rural areas still fetch dirty water from streams for many purposes. This contaminated water is source for many fatal diseases that include waterborne diseases and other related diseases. Having more clean drinking water in more places could have at least prevented many fatal water borne diseases in many cases. The only way to do so is to carry out comprehensive survey in many rural areas to find out how many places are badly in need of water. If this water problem is addressed, it could also prevent summer time migration to far and risky places in search of water for human and animals’ usages.
Train more medical personnel locally and build more public clinics throughout South Sudan:
There is a need at this moment in South Sudan to train more medical personnel locally, build more clinics, and fully equip clinics to meet the demands of the locals. One of the visions of the SPLM/A from day one of the liberation was to address some basic medical matters in South Sudan. There need to be medical assistants/doctors, professional or trained pharmacists in that matter, midwives, and administrators, community health agents or CBR to be trained locally in South Sudan instead of training few privileged individuals outside South Sudan at expensive costs. The federal government needs to build more technical training centres in all ten states so that majority of South Sudanese can have equal training opportunities as expected. We cannot afford basic medical trainings outside of the independent country (South Sudan) that discriminate our people of who should or should not receive training in South Africa or Uganda or Kenya, but an inclusive training opportunities regardless of gender, region, race, and age.
Equally important, medical care should be a universal right throughout South Sudan given the highest degree of poverty in the region that many families cannot afford basic medical treatment within the South or outside South Sudan as we speak today. Everyone should have the right to health protection and care. The state should guarantees this right by providing free medical and hospital care by means of the installations of the rural medical service network, polyclinics, hospitals, preventative and specialized treatment centers; by providing free dental care; by promoting the health publicity campaigns, health education, regular medical examinations, general vaccinations and other measures to prevent the outbreak of diseases in years to come so that South Sudanese live healthy life and contribute to the overall welfare of the country so that our country can benefit from its citizens manpower in all aspects of societal levels or institutions.
Build more schools, train more teachers, and build technical schools in more places:
South Sudan needs to build more primary and technical schools and train more qualified teachers in many places so that they deliver the much anticipated knowledge to the present generation so that they can compete globally in this twenty-first century world economic. Doing so would ensure the speedy development in all areas given the fact that education is a key to everything. Having qualified teachers, well equipped schools, and good payment for teachers would guarantee South Sudan to reach its peak in scientific fields and world class researchers who would solve some health and social issues that affect our society at large. We cannot expect things to be perfected by foreign experts when we do not know exactly what we can do alone or with the outside help given the resources that we have in our country today. We can first explore our problems and solutions before approaching foreigners for that matter. Otherwise, do the good things that other countries have done by managing the public resources in good manner and bring foreign experts to help in areas that are considered to be sophisticated in terms of technology, especially building dams, canals, urban cities development, aerospace training, oil equipments installation, and other stuffs. But, when more people acquired technical skills locally, South Sudan could see more technicians that can solve some technical problems that we face in the South nowadays.
In my humble opinion, insecurity, which involves intra & inter-tribal wars, militancy or insurgency within the South, shortages of clean drinking water, lacks of basic medical care, and lack of at least qualified teachers along with underfunded school administrations, need to be looked at seriously and be addressed. Announcing new projects without proper management of the existing ones is a dangerous approach.
With the limited resources that in hand, we should adopt the following strategies:
1. Deploy SPLA forces to protect civilians before and after disarmament exercise in areas that are included in the disarmament exercise;
2. Build more water boreholes in more places, and train more plumbers or technicians, and make available the spare parts so they deal with any technical problems right on time;
3. Open some basic medical clinics in every village/boma, payam, and a satellite clinic in every county as a referral point. Train more medical assistants, midwives, pharmacists, and laboratory technicians;
4. Renovate the current schools if there are existing ones or build new ones where there are no schools at all. Provide them with facilities; make education affordable, flexible, available at all levels across South Sudan;
5. Build technical schools in the 10 capital cities of South Sudan to meet the growing demand of skills at current stages;
6. Import more technical trainers and medical doctors/specialists to South Sudan if RSS can affords to do so so that to avoid foreign medical treatment and training that have cost us millions of Dollars for years now;
7. Improve the sea and land transportation systems so that ordinary citizens can do the extraordinary business without hindrance;
8. Reorganize our Police and SPLA systems, especially with the acceptable moral values (professionalism, transparency, and accountability);
9. Facilitate reconciliation processes of all warring communities…so that peaceful coexistent is guaranteed;
10. Increase salaries of our “frontline workers” along with other civil servants so that they don’t leave their jobs and seek better pay elsewhere;
11. Employ qualify persons according to their areas of expertise to ensure proper deliver of basic services;
12. And finally, “RULE OF LAW” must apply to all equally regardless of who you are.
James Monyluak De Mijok Thon holds a BA-Diaspora Studies and Sociology from University of Windsor, Canada; he is currently a MA-Sociology student at the University of Lethbridge, Canada, and he can be reached at [email protected]