Issues and challenges - Other MDGs
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There are several challenges that the country is facing with respect to eradicating extreme poverty and hunger, and the main ones are the following:
- The legacy of prolonged war makes the fight against poverty more demanding and challenging;
- Poverty and other social indicators in rural areas lag behind urban areas. Only 24% of people living in urban areas are poor, whereas more than double, 55%, of those living in rural areas fall below the poverty line, and this varies greatly by state;
- Lack of resources to implement sound poverty eradication measures due to the oil shutdown, which was the main source of revenue for the national budget;
- Low literacy rates that limit the adoption of new skills and methods to improve productivity;
- Inadequate marketing infrastructure in rural communities, which discourages individuals from economic empowerment activities; and
- While the government’s preferred route to alleviating poverty is through agricultural productivity improvements, instead of relying solely on oil production, it is recognized that such endeavours may not always meet the needs of the ultra-poor who may not have access to dequate land or income.
Despite the positive developments in the education sector, major challenges exist that may hinder the achievement of the MDG target on education in all parts of South Sudan. Much is left to be done regarding coverage, efficiency, quality, equity and relevance. Some of the challenges include:
- Years of conflict have not allowed for consistent training of teachers and many trained teachers have left South Sudan or have become internally displaced. Only 45% of the teachers working in South Sudan are considered trained6 and 40% are primary school leavers. The student teacher ratio (STR) is 52.6. However, many teachers working in South Sudan are volunteers, waiting for recruitment of paid teachers. Teacher absenteeism is common and this hampers student learning7.
- Localized conflicts in several counties have greatly contributed to children being displaced from their communities and moving to areas where access to schooling is not assured;
- Quite a number of children had never attended a school or had to leave school due to the civil war. After the war, they re-entered school while over-age. As a result, they often drop out before completion of the primary school cycle. This is particularly true of girls;
- Inadequate physical infrastructure due to many years of civil war;
- Lack of resources for training and/or recruiting teachers due to oil shutdown as a result of austerity;
- A large part of the South Sudan population is semi-nomadic and this prevents them from attending formal schooling.
The following are some of the challenges faced in promoting gender equality and women empowerment:
- Lack of organizational structures for women empowerment;
- Lack of gender sensitization programmes;
- Shortage of personnel to carry out women empowerment sensitization campaigns;
- Limited capacity in terms of human and material resources to facilitate adult literacy and continuing education;
- Lack of encouragement on non-formal educational programmes and building campaigns of continuing distance education programmes targeting women;
- Lack of mechanisms for monitoring the implementation of education reforms;
- Early marriages influenced by socioeconomic factors;
- Socio–cultural factors that make people believe that men should be leaders and women followers, and
- Poor learning environments which affect girls in primary and secondary schools e.g. sanitary facilities, long distance to education facilities, extra burden from domestic chores especially for adolescent girls resulting into high dropout rate.
While some progress has been made with respect to sustainability of the environment, there are a number of challenges that the sector is facing. These include:
- Lack of resources to facilitate investment in conservation, water quality and monitoring. Available information indicates that problems of sustainability are often due to inappropriate choice of technology type, location or design. There is a general bias towards borehole technologies but these frequently break down because users do not have the technical or financial capacity to maintain them without financial assistance. Additionally, communities live in remote and inaccessible areas that make it difficult to maintain supply chains for spare parts;
- Inadequate public awareness of sanitation or hygiene education. Effective integration of sanitation and hygiene education with water supply interventions will depend on coordination and collaboration
mechanisms between water sector agencies and other agencies such as education and health;
- Increased deforestation due to firewood and charcoal usage as there is no adequate alternative energy sources that do not use solid fuels;
- Increased demand for arable land and failure to enforce measures to curb problems of deforestation;
- Lack of community participation in environment and natural resources management;
- Poor quality of surface and ground water; and
- Inequitable promotion of improved sanitation facilities.
There are several challenges that the country is facing with respect to developing global partnerships, which include the following:
- Inadequate distribution of ICT services and infrastructure;
- High cost of ICT equipment and services; and
- Poor internet and IT support infrastructure.
These challenges are in part responsible for the fairly high levels of unemployment among 15– 24 year olds, discussed above.