South Sudan

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CRS in South Sudan

Following several decades of  civil war with Sudan, industry and infrastructure in landlocked South Sudan are severely underdeveloped and poverty is widespread. Subsistence agriculture provides a living for a large part of the population. Nevertheless, South Sudan does have abundant natural resources. At independence in 2011, South Sudan produced nearly three-fourths of former Sudan's total oil output. The government of South Sudan derives nearly 98% of its budget revenues from oil. 

In January 2012 South Sudan suspended production of oil because of a dispute with Sudan over fees. This suspension lasted 15 months and had a devastating impact on the economy. 

Since independence, South Sudan has struggled with good governance and nation building and has attempted to control rebel militia groups operating in its territory. Since December 2013, CRS and South Sudan have had to confront the reality of fragile, inter-ethnic relationships that have loosely held the country together, devoid of a unifying national identity. The consequence of these weak relationships, coupled with destabilizing political jockeying, has been large-scale fighting and displacement in the world's newest nation.

CRS and its local partners are working to strengthen relationships and promote healing, while continuing to deliver lifesaving emergency and development assistance.

See our policy position here. 


People Served: 1,303,641 (FY 2014: 452,106 direct; 851,535 indirect)

Population: 11,562,695 (July 2014 est.)

Size: 248,777 sq. mi.; slightly smaller than Texas

CRS' History in South Sudan

Catholic Relief Services has operated in South Sudan since 1983. For nearly 25 years, CRS supported the people of South Sudan with emergency assistance and conflict mitigation amidst a period of prolonged civil war. In advance of the country's independence in July 2011, CRS increased assistance to basic service delivery while scaling up its efforts to strengthen civil society and reduce the potential of conflict around the 2011 referendum. Following independence, CRS labored to deliver broad-scale recovery and development in areas devoid of basic services for more than 50 years. We have advocated for effective, responsive and equitable governance.

CRS’ agriculture work in South Sudan engages vulnerable communities to meet their long-term food and livelihood needs. CRS has distributed seeds and tools to thousands of farmers, which helped create markets for farmers with surpluses to sell to those in need.

We empower local communities to care for their water supply and sanitation systems, as well as improve their hygiene behaviors. We have built thousands of latrines and rehabbed hundreds of wells, while training locals to promote appropriate hygiene practices.

We use Savings and Internal Lending Communities (SILC) to mobilize members to save, build solidarity and empower vulnerable groups to mobilize their own resources to access credit.

The goal of CRS South Sudan’s peacebuilding program is to support South Sudanese institutions to actively prepare for, prevent and respond to violent conflicts while engaging in healing and reconciliation work. Given the emergencies and hazards in South Sudan, particularly following the political and ethnic crisis that emerged in December 2013,  emergency response and peacebuilding remain critical sectors.