By Charles K Mark
South Sudan government has signed a cooperation agreement with the World Bank to facilitate two projects worth 147 million US dollars.
National Minister of Finance, Dr. Bak Barnaba Chol signed for the government while outgoing World Bank Regional Country Director for South Sudan, Sudan, Ethiopia, and Eritrea, Ousmane Dione signed on behalf of the global finance institution.
The duo signed two significant project documents: the South Sudan Resilient Agricultural Livelihoods Projects Additional Financing at a tune of 117 million US dollars and the South Sudan Health Sector Transformation Project at a tune of 30 million US dollars.
Finance Minister, Bak, emphasized the need to improve health and agriculture, which are so important for the survival and advancement of citizens in the country.
“We have prioritized health and agriculture to move our country forward and to safeguard our people from the deteriorating conditions they continue to live in,” he said.
Bak pledged transparency and accountability for the funds allocated for efficient and effective project management.
He praised the International Finance Institution for raising its portfolio of funding projects in the country from less than half a million a few years ago to more than a billion US dollars today.
“The portfolio was around 350 million when we started. Now we have reached 1.4 billion in implementing different projects in the country,” Minister Bak revealed.
For her part, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, Josephine Joseph Lagu, approved of the country’s potential to alleviate food insecurity and poverty.
“A country can use agriculture to create jobs, to ensure that we diversify the economy, and to create and generate revenue,” she stated.
Josephine said that the Agricultural Ministry has been deterred from realizing this potential due to insecurity, but she believes the country is steadily stabilizing.
“So we are confident that this country can produce its own food to feed itself and also to export,” she stated. “We are aiming to see in the next few years that our people across the country can have food on the table, food that is produced here in this country.”
Meanwhile, Ousmane Dione, World Bank outgoing regional director for Eritrea, Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Sudan, said the funding is coming at a time when investing in health in South Sudan is also investing in future generations.
“When you have health and when you have food, you have the provision for a long journey. And that is important for the South Sudanese people,” he explained.
Talking about productivity Dione said agriculture is fundamentally important for not only feeding people or producing in excess but also being able to export.
He challenged that there is no reason why South Sudan will not be able to go beyond that challenge to reflect that the country can be a peaceful, united, and stable nation.
“We have a saying back in my second home country in the west that when you have peace and when you have health, you have two fundamental provisions to take a long journey towards success,” the World Bank regional director said.
He, however, stressed the need to do faster for the benefit of all South Sudanese, wherever they are in the country.
The signing ceremony for the financing agreement for the two grants was spearheaded by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, the Minister of Agriculture and Food Security, and the Minister of Health on behalf of the Government of South Sudan, and the World Bank Regional Country Director and Country Manager on behalf of the International Development Association.