Since gaining independence from colonial rule in 1956, the people of South Sudan have been the victims of constant violence and political turmoil, experiencing only short intervals of peace for nearly half a century. Throughout the First and Second Sudanese Civil Wars, an estimated 2.5 million South Sudanese lost their lives while over 4 million others were displaced.
The Sudanese Civil War formally ended with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005. In a referendum which took place in January, 2011, over 99% of the South Sudanese population voted for independence from the government in Khartoum.
On July 9, 2011, South Sudan became internationally recognized at the world’s 193rd nation.
While leaders of the new South Sudan know that the road towards development will not be without challenges, the people are optimistic for the future of their country.
Although Uganda has now experienced more than two decades of economic growth and stability after years of political conflict, it continues to face government corruption and fear of rebel group violence. The infamous Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA), a cult-like organization founded by Joseph Kony, terrorized the country from 1986 to 2006. Especially in the northern regions of Uganda, the LRA committed widespread violations of human rights, including forced labor and sexual slavery, mass murder, rape and torture. The LRA fled Uganda in 2006, but not before their terror had taken a heavy toll on the people living there. Communities are now working to rebuild their lives as they move forward from their unsettling past.
The Water Crisis in East Africa
The world water crisis is not a matter of scarcity, but of access. Today, nearly a fifth of the world’s population lives in areas where water is in short supply.
In Africa, two out of five people lack access to a clean water source. As a result, they face serious risks of contracting fatal illnesses, such as typhoid, guinea and ringworm, diarrhea, cholera, trachoma, dengue fever and river blindness. Annually, 2 million people in the world die of diarrhea linked to contaminated water and 84% of water related deaths occur amongst infants and children. 115 Africans die every hour from diseases caused by unclean water and poor sanitation.
Access to clean water not only affects the health of a society, but is a fundamental element for economic and social development. Because women and children spend a majority of their time working to procure a single resource, they are limited in their abilities to attend school or create small businesses. The agriculture industry also suffers from lack of reliable water sources, increasing the community’s risk for hunger and extreme poverty.