South Sudan

Portrait of three Sudanese women ©  ACDI-CIDA/Roger LeMoyne

Following the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Sudan People's Liberation Army in 2005, a referendum on the self-determination of southern Sudan was held in January 2011. During the referendum, the citizens of southern Sudan voted overwhelmingly in favour of independence. The Government of Sudan recognized the results of the referendum, and the Republic of South Sudan became independent on July 9, 2011. On the same day, Minister John Baird announced Canada’s recognition of the new country.

South Sudan is located south of Sudan and is bordered by Ethiopia to the east, Kenya, Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo to the south, and the Central African Republic to the west. Juba is its capital city. According to the World Bank, in 2012 the population of South Sudan was roughly 10.8 million and growing.

South Sudan has an abundance of natural resources; however, years of civil war have left the country extremely underdeveloped. The economy is based primarily on oil, which at times has provided as much as 98 percent of the government’s revenue. While South Sudan has an abundance of arable land, only 4.2 percent is currently cultivated.

The life expectancy is 55 years; while South Sudan’s maternal mortality is among the worst in the world at 2,054 per 100,000 births. The country lacks basic infrastructure with only 300 km of paved roads, and 80 percent of the population lacks proper sanitation.

In December 2013, fighting broke out in Juba, which escalated into months of ongoing violence and hostilities, particularly in the oil-producing regions of the country. The conflict has displaced more than one million people, as civilians have fled within South Sudan and to neighbouring countries. Furthermore, it has resulted in grave human rights violations and atrocities, including ethnic targeting, gender-based violence, as well as widespread looting and destruction. With the planting season disrupted by conflict, the country is at risk of famine with as many as seven million people expected to be food insecure in 2014.

Canada is following mediation efforts and promoting a sustainable resolution to the conflict through dialogue, as well as respect of the cessation of hostilities agreements. Canada advocates for the Government of South Sudan and the opposition to do their utmost to respect human rights and protect civilians, meet the humanitarian needs of conflict-affected populations, and be accountable to citizens.

Find out what Canada is doing to support development in South Sudan.

Thematic Focus

In 2014, South Sudan was confirmed as a country of focus for the Government of Canada's international development efforts. South Sudan was chosen based on its level of need and its ability to use aid dollars wisely and on Canada's capacity to make a difference. Canada's engagement in South Sudan focuses on helping set the conditions for long-term peace, stability, and prosperity.

Through a whole-of-government approach, Canada is working to support the people of South Sudan to:

  • Address humanitarian challenges
  • Reduce security threats
  • Enhance stability
  • Meet basic human needs
  • Promote reconciliation and democratization

Canada's international development efforts in South Sudan contribute to poverty reduction by improving the health of mothers, newborns and children, increasing food security, and strengthening democratic governance.

Children and youth, including health and rights of women and children

Canada seeks to address maternal, newborn and child mortality and morbidity in South Sudan by delivering life-saving health services and supporting the delivery of basic health services, including to conflict-affected populations. This support also seeks to address sexual and gender-based violence, which has increased as a result of the conflict. Over the longer-term, Canada’s investments in infrastructure and human resources will help to develop a sustainable public health care system.

Key anticipated results

  • Reduce the maternal mortality rate from 2,054 per 100,000 live births
  • Increase the number of women accessing basic maternal, newborn and child health interventions at primary and secondary health facilities
  • Reduce the number of children dying from diseases such as malaria, diarrhea and pneumonia, which account for 45 percent of deaths for children under the age of five
  • Increase the number of trained health workers providing services in South Sudan, especially midwives

Food security

Canada seeks to prevent widespread food insecurity and reduce the risk of famine by boosting food production and protecting livelihoods for vulnerable populations. Canada is supporting smallholder farmers to continue to produce food throughout the crisis and helping them to access markets. Over the longer-term, and depending on the security situation, agriculture is expected to play a key role in diversifying South Sudan’s economy and supporting economic growth. 

Key anticipated results

  • Increase agricultural production for farming households through better access to training and farming inputs including seeds and tools
  • Reduce the percentage of the population requiring emergency food assistance, which was as high as 33 percent prior to the crisis
  • Construct new roads to link farming communities to markets and build capacity for government maintenance
  • Increase the number of people receiving livelihoods training and support


After supporting the 2010 elections in Sudan (including southern Sudan) and the 2011 referendum leading to South Sudan’s independence, Canada has a strong interest in continuing to advance democracy, and improve stability and accountability in South Sudan. Currently, Canada is working to promote more effective government oversight and the accountable use of public resources. In response to the current crisis, Canada is exploring opportunities to support South Sudanese citizens, including women, youth, civil society and church groups, to understand and meaningfully participate in reconciliation processes.

Key anticipated results

  • Strengthen oversight of the government's use of public resources through capacity building of government bodies responsible for transparency and accountability, such as the national government external audit office

Progress on Aid Effectiveness

The principles of aid effectiveness, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's and Canada's guidelines for fragile states, the Global Goals for Sustainable Development, and the New Deal for Engagement in Fragile States, will continue to guide Canada's engagement in South Sudan.

Canada co-ordinates with other donors through a number of mechanisms, including sector working groups, and aligns with the Government of South Sudan’s Aid Strategy. To promote aid effectiveness, Canada's international development program has a dual approach of working through pooled funds managed by trusted partners on large-scale projects and directly with experienced non-governmental and multilateral organizations on focused projects. Canada provides humanitarian assistance in South Sudan, through the United Nations, the Red Cross Movement, and non-governmental organizations.

Achievements 2013-2014

Children and youth, including health and rights of women and children

  • Provided 3,526 women with emergency obstetric services and newborn care
  • Trained 525 health workers (including midwives and nurses) to provide children and mothers with the care they need
  • Helped 1,152,376 children younger than age five to fight communicable diseases, including malaria, pneumonia and diarrhea
  • Helped establish four national health training institutes for midwifery and nursing  training over 300 students

Food security

  • 15,717 households were employed through food for work activities, supporting 109,994 beneficiaries (of which 48.4% were women)
  • 40 farmer groups and 16 dry season vegetable groups were formed and trained, contributing to a 25%-30% increase in yield for most households and improving food security for 10,800 people
  • 3,500 livelihood kits and 4,000 fuel stoves were distributed on an emergency basis in Upper Nile, one of the states most affected by conflict

Humanitarian Assistance

With Canada's support, humanitarian partners were able to provide:

  • Provision of emergency food and nutrition assistance to over 3.3 million people (of which 1.7 million are children) at risk of high food insecurity
  • Emergency vaccinations for 1 million children 6 to 15 years and provision of child  friendly spaces
  • Provision of shelter kits and emergency medical care for over 300,000 conflict-affected people
  • Provision of safe drinking water and sanitation facilities for up to 250,000 conflict-affected people

By working with Canadian and international partners, Canada is working to improve the health and rights of women and children globally, which includes the country of South Sudan.

Map of international development projects in Sub-Saharan Africa

Map of international development projects in Sub-Saharan Africa

2014-2015 international assistance disbursements to South Sudan (in millions of dollars)

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