16 July, 2011

Juba, South Sudan and lessons from Rwanda

Juba - click on map to enlarge
The capital might be changed, but, today, Juba, is the capital city of the world's newest nation: South Sudan. The city, like the country, has to start from scratch: its infrastructure (systems for sanitation, utilities, land usage, housing and transportation), institutions and all the basics a city should have, are almost non-existent. With so many people - Sudanese and non-Sudanese - migrating to or entering the city from within South Sudan, from the North and from other countries, it is very hard to know the present real population of Juba. It could be half-a-million or one million or more; most of who are poor.

Those planning, administering and managing Juba, on the White Nile, have a most daunting task. At the same time, with South Sudan awash in oil and the city being built from almost nothing , they can build the city into whatever they want it to be. Properly planned and managed, Juba can be a clean, organized and sustainable metropolis. Left un-managed and in the hands of corrupt officials, the city will be just another, poorly planned, crowded (with mainly poor people), dirty and an insecure crime ridden African city. A sample of what is being reported about the city: today the periphery of Juba city is more violent than during the war and too insecure for cultivation. In the middle of town, markets are full of food and other supplies, but prices are high, as most food comes from Uganda and Kenya. The outskirts are overcrowded, posing serious health and sanitation risks such as cholera outbreaks.

The government  of South Sudan can should learn from others. Learn from countries that had to start from very difficult, almost impossible positions/situations and yet managed to build. No country in Africa can be as an excellent a role model to South Sudan as Rwanda. It is the best role model for South Sudan. It has risen from one of the greatest tragedies Africa has ever known and to be as impressive as it is today. Here is a country that 15 or so years ago, seemed to be on the brink of complete anarchy and chaos, and yet today it is one of the most exemplary nations in Africa. Rwanda now stands strongly on its feet; in many ways - more than all its neighbors. Today, Kigali, is the cleanest and safest city in Eastern and Central Africa; and the city is planning big. And yet Rwanda has very little resources; it is a poor, over crowded country.

Luckily and very fortunately for Rwanda, it had one strong thing going for it: an enlightened, forward looking leadership that cares deeply for its people. A leadership, that, despite many of its short-comings has done what very few, thought possible. Rwanda has, so far, avoided the worst. Kigali is shining. Can the Southern Sudanese leadership do the same for their people? Can they do the same for Juba or whatever site they decide for their capital? It is not what problems or resources a family or a society or a nation have that matter; it is the kind of leadership that a family or a society or nation has, that most matters.

More on Juba:

+ Wikitravel
+ MYsinchew
+ Yahoo News
+ Google News
+ South Sudan Nation
+ Google Map

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