South Sudan's natural resources bear brunt of conflict

Saturday June 16 2018

A South Sudanese woman makes a fuel-efficient stove. AFP

A South Sudanese woman makes a fuel-efficient stove. The country has called for support to manage its natural resources. PHOTO | AFP 

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South Sudan's path to peace and development is hampered by competition for natural resources and the effects of climate change.

The United Nations Environment Programme says the ongoing conflict continues to hinder South Sudan from managing and developing its natural resources, thus threatening the livelihoods of more than 10 million people.

The natural resources that are threatened include forests, oil, water and minerals.

The conflict, which started in December 2013, has claimed thousands of lives and created millions of refugees.

On March 22, the US imposed sanctions on 15 South Sudanese oil-related entities, claiming their revenues had contributed to the ongoing conflict and humanitarian crisis.

“War in South Sudan has been horrific and brings an extraordinarily high cost to civilians,” said Unep executive director Erik Solheim.


The latest South Sudan State of Environment and Outlook Report, compiled by Unep’s South Sudan Office and the country’s Environment and Forestry Ministry states that the economic downturn forced villagers to turn to artisanal gold mining, facing the risk of cave-ins during the rainy season.

The report recommends that South Sudan protects its ecosystems, and promote the agriculture, fishery and industrial development sectors.

Competition between pastoralists and farmers for pasture, water, fuel, wood and farmland could intensify conflicts.

The report quotes President Salva Kiir as saying that lack of environmental standards and guidelines to safeguard the exploration and exploitation in the extractive industry have led to pollution in the oil fields and surrounding areas.

“South Sudan needs support from the international community on this front, particularly from the countries that have successfully and sustainably managed their extractive industry and natural resources,” the president said.