Juba — South Sudan received a US$38 million World Bank grant today to help rehabilitate feeder roads and increase access to rural communities in high agricultural potential areas. The grant will also help improve food security and local service delivery efforts in the vast country.
The South Sudan Rural Roads Project grant was signed today by the Minister of Finance and Economic Planning, Hon. Kosti Manibe Ngai, and Laura Kullenberg, Country Manager for the World Bank in South Sudan.
South Sudan only has a road network of about 17,000 km, of which only about 4,000 km are all weather roads. It thus faces a huge infrastructure deficit. Apart from helping to address this deficit, the grant aims to boost the local agriculture sector by upgrading and rehabilitating rural roads linking productive agricultural areas to market centers.
This will help open up access to local markets, increase employment opportunities, and help improve the livelihoods of rural farmers. At present, South Sudan only has a classified road density of about 15 km to 1,000 Km2 of arable land area, whereas the rest of East Africa has 101 km to 1,000 Km2.
The project will thus help to support the country's attempts to develop its agricultural potential to improve the livelihood of the rural population. By improving access and connectivity to rural areas, the project will also help enhance basic services delivery efforts. Additionally, the project will help build the capacity of the Ministry of Roads and Bridges and State Directorates of Roads and Bridges in managing rural infrastructure.
Minister Ngai described the roads project as a means to boost the local agriculture sector and also improve food security within the country.
"This project will make it possible to transport farm inputs to productive areas and surplus produce to consumption areas where there are food deficits," Hon. Ngai said. He noted that farmers were often discouraged from producing more because of the lack of access to markets. He also noted that the grant will help the government to realize their policy of taking services to rural communities.
According to Kullenberg, this grant will also help the government in its efforts to diversify the economy. "South Sudan is endowed with abundant material resources including a large amount of good quality rain fed agricultural land," said Kullenberg. "By rehabilitating feeder roads, this project will help provide access to market and social services to many South Sudanese who currently live in hard to reach areas," she said.
This grant is part of a larger trust fund totaling $75 million, which the Bank is using to provide early assistance to South Sudan given the urgency of challenges faced by the new state, as it emerges from over two decades of conflict and embarks on the long journey towards nation building.