Juba — In a significant move aimed at helping South Sudan strengthen its infrastructure and improve people's livelihoods, the Government of the Netherlands will contribute more than US$21 million (€15 million) to the UN World Food Programme's operation to rehabilitate hundreds of kilometres of roads.
"The development of the feeder road network will shore up the ability of South Sudan's government to develop the agricultural sector and also improve access to basic education, health services and food security," says WFP's South Sudan Country Director Chris Nikoi. "It will enrich rural livelihoods by linking people to markets."
The Dutch funding will help rehabilitate 140 kilometres of feeder roads in Eastern and Western Equatoria states, where many residents are subsistence farmers. More broadly, WFP's road construction project aims to stimulate South Sudan's enormous agricultural potential and help it diversify its largely oil-based economy.
"Food security is one of the three main themes within bilateral development cooperation between the Republic of South Sudan and the Netherlands. Helping to develop the feeder road network will stimulate farmers to treat farming as a business, with focus on producing for markets and reducing the need to import food," says Paul Tholen the Acting Head of Mission for the Kingdom of the Netherlands to South Sudan.
The project underscores WFP South Sudan's general shift from providing emergency food assistance to helping to strengthen food security. Between 2004 and 2011, WFP constructed and repaired more than 2,600 kilometres of roads that now link key cities and serve as corridors to the north as well as to Uganda and Kenya.
Now, WFP is working with the South Sudanese government and nongovernmental partners to build feeder roads connecting rural communities to towns and markets. By training communities in road rehabilitation and supplying road maintenance equipment, WFP is also creating jobs and building local capacity.