Pro-Poor Growth and Development in South Sudan
Documento .iecah. nº6
Document wrote by Nahuel Arenas-García -humanitarian consultant and iecah´s collaborator- about the Pro-Poor Growth and Development in South Sudan.
Sudan’s civil war was the longest running in Africa and covered most of its life as an independent country. After more than thirty months of negotiation, the northern National Congress Party (NCP) and the southern rebel, the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A), signed the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) in January 2005. The CPA not only provided a political framework for a ceasefire but it also addressed the issues at the root of Sudan’s civil war, namely, the unequal development of the peripheral areas and the distribution of wealth (Johnson 2003, Kulusika 1998). The signature of the CPA provided a historic opportunity to put South Sudan on the path of development in response to the high expectations of its population, but also supported by the domestically-generated resources, especially the oil revenues and the flow of international aid. In this sense, the (re)construction of South Sudan is a white canvas where the international community can try out and implement its vision of pro-poor growth.
The most important processes and mechanisms being implemented in Sudan include the Joint Assessment Mission (JAM) process – the ‘guiding document’ (Murphy 2007) -, the interim Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (iPRSP) and the Multi-Donor Trust Funds (MDTF). Although these mechanisms have a national scope, the emphasis is on the relationship between the Government of National Unity (GNU) and the Government of South Sudan (GoSS), with the intention to support the CPA. The role of the World Bank in the development and implementation of these aid mechanisms is central.
This paper argues that there are significant inconsistencies in the pro-poor development strategy championed by the World Bank in South Sudan for several reasons. First, there is no consensus on what pro-poor growth exactly means. Even within the Bank (World Bank) there are different interpretations of its definition and determinants. Second, even if there was an agreement on the previous, the capacity to measure pro-poor growth and pro-poor spending in South Sudan is very limited. The general lack of data is significant, so measuring poverty rates and the impact of policies is a challenging endeavour. Moreover, national budgets are, by large, planned according to the lines of the JAM and the iPRSP, but there is a notable lack of information and transparency on the effective use of budget allocations, which in turn makes the talk on pro-poor spending rather insubstantial. And finally, the mechanisms put in place to outline Sudan’s development have so far failed to match the general expectations. On one side, the MDTF has failed to be a single aid instrument and to deliver tangible results. On the other side, the lack of clarity and consensus on the meaning of pro-poor growth and pro-poor spending is reflected in the different mechanisms and policy recommendations. At the core of the analysed mechanisms there are policy suggestions that echo the development understanding of the Structural Adjustment Programmes (SAP), emphasising policies such as market liberalisation and privatization, without fully addressing growth distribution (Babiker and Pantuliano 2006). As a result of the above, the door is open for further research on the extent to which the development recommendations of these documents and mechanisms promoted by the World Bank reflect a real pro-poor commitment or they just reproduce the logics of the SAPs.
This paper does not touch upon other very important factors related to the development of South Sudan and the progress of the peace process like the issue of oil resources, the role of the UN peacekeeping mission, inter-ethnic tensions and other security issues, CPA benchmarks (i.e. elections, border demarcations and the referendum), or the role of other agencies and actors (e.g. UNDP, NGOs), etc. I acknowledge that all of these issues are interrelated and have a significant effect on the development prospect of Sudan in general and South Sudan in particular. The first section of the paper briefly situates the Poverty Reduction Strategy Papers (PRSP) within the evolution of the Bank’s conception on development and, thus, its recommendations for poverty alleviation. The following section looks at different definitions of and approaches to pro-poor growth, with special focus on those adopted by the World Bank, highlighting the current lack of consensus and their implications for policy. With the objective of exploring how the vision of pro-poor growth is actually promoted and implemented by the Bank, the third and last part of the paper examines the development processes and mechanisms being implemented with the leadership of the Bank in Sudan after the signature of the CPA: the JAM, the iPRSP and the MDTF. Although these mechanisms are related to both the North and the South Sudan, this paper’s emphasis is on the latter. I analyse some of the obstacles encountered so far and the challenges involved for an effective implementation of a pro-poor growth and development strategy in South Sudan.