South Sudan flag
South Sudan Map

South Sudan

The Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH has been working in the area of present-day South Sudan since the 1970s, albeit with interruptions. It resumed its operations there in 2004, when it was commissioned by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to upgrade the road network. Since the conclusion of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, GIZ, in cooperation with the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR) and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), has assisted more than 100,000 refugees to return home.  

GIZ opened an office in the capital Juba in 2010 and currently has 16 seconded staff and 86 national personnel working for South Sudan. Due to the current crisis, the seconded staff were evacuated on 13 July 2016 and, since then, have been coordinating operations in South Sudan from Germany; this is known as remote project management.

South Sudan is almost twice the size of Germany and, according to the latest estimates, has a population of around 11 million, more than half under 18 years of age. Around 50 per cent of its people live below the poverty line and face a high risk of hunger. Only around a quarter can read and write.

South Sudan – which gained its independence from Sudan in July 2011 after decades of civil war – is a fragile state. Armed conflict broke out again in December 2013 and is continuing despite the signing of a peace agreement in August 2015. This ongoing conflict has already claimed thousands of lives and displaced around three million people, and has reversed much of the development progress achieved by this young country. The lack of infrastructure, low level of education, high costs of goods and services and high inflation pose major challenges to the local economy. The Government is also confronted with an ambitious agenda: it must establish essential administrative structures, support human capacity building, and develop regulatory and legal frameworks, while also ensuring that the general public has access to basic services such as education and health care.

On behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ began to provide advisory services to the Government of South Sudan, focusing on administrative reform, in 2007. In 2008, the German Federal Foreign Office commissioned GIZ to set up a communications system for the South Sudanese police. GIZ’s engagement was later expanded to include the development of the urban water and sanitation sector and food security.

The first government negotiations between Germany and South Sudan took place in 2013. Since then, cooperation has focused on three priority areas:

  • Food security and development of agricultural markets,
  • Urban water and sanitation, and
  • Decentralisation and accountability.

In addition, providing assistance for displaced persons, returnees and host communities in the current conflict situation is extremely important.

On behalf of BMZ, GIZ is implementing two transitional assistance projects in the west of the country, as well as one programme as part of BMZ’s Special Initiative ‘Tackling the root causes of displacement, reintegrating refugees’ in three administrative areas. The German Federal Foreign Office is supporting the establishment of police structures and an emergency call centre in order to improve public security. In addition, it promotes the implementation of the peace agreement through its involvement in international institutions.

BMZ is GIZ’s main commissioning party in South Sudan. The UK’s Department for International Development (DFID) and the European Union (EU) provide cofinancing for the food security programme. The German Federal Foreign Office has been supporting the peace process though financing agreements since 2016.