Juba, Sudan, July 7, 2011 - As South Sudan prepares to become the world’s newest country this Saturday, July 9, hopes are high among its children that problems of the past can be put behind them. World Vision surveyed children across three of South Sudan’s ten states to find out which issues matter most to them as independence approaches.
After more than 20 years of war, and a six-year struggle for peace and independence, it is the most basic needs in life that are occupying children in Western Equatoria, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap states.
“I expect the government to ensure that water is accessible and available to every child in the new country,” said 10-year-old Joana in Western Equatoria, who has to walk five kilometers to get to the nearest water pump, taking up time she’d rather spend in school.
With more than 50 percent of the new country’s population lacking access to safe drinking water, Joana’s wish echoes many of her friends.
In a country where a girl her age has a higher chance of dying in childbirth than of completing school, 15-year-old Rebecca wants to see the dangers facing new mothers addressed.
“Many women die from childbirth and it is not good; I want to become a midwife so I can help,” she says from her home in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State.
While many children around the world would be happy to miss school, for James, a young boy who lives on the streets in Warrap state, the chance to go to school is at the top of his wishlist.
“I would like to see a good education system in South Sudan after the independence to enable me and other children on the streets to continue with education,” he says.
Less than half of South Sudan’s primary-school age children are enrolled in school, presenting yet another challenge for the new country’s government. Ensuring children are at the center of the country’s plans is going to be key to its success, says Evariste Sindayigaya, acting national director for World Vision in South Sudan.
“As we know from more than 20 years of working with and talking to children in this country, like those featured in this survey, their hopes and fears reflect the needs of the nation. This is a historic moment for Sudan, but this is only the beginning, not the end, of a very long road to help its people to live up to their potential.”
Note to editors The Republic of South Sudan is set to be the world’s newest nation and Africa’s 54th state on July 9, 2011. This follows a referendum in January 2011 in which southerners voted for secession. The vote was held in accordance with the 2005 North-South Comprehensive Peace Agreement which ended one of the longest civil wars in Africa.
About World Vision World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families, and their communities worldwide reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. We serve the world's poor -- regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.For more information on their efforts, visit WorldVision.org/press or follow them on Twitter at @WorldVisionNews