Nairobi -WFP today appealed for urgent funding for road repairs and demining of key transport routes in southern Sudan to help people return after decades of war, and connect the region to northern Sudan and neighbouring countries.
NAIROBI -WFP today appealed for urgent funding for road repairs and demining of key transport routes in southern Sudan to help people return after decades of war, and connect the region to northern Sudan and neighbouring countries.
WFP said it faced an immediate shortfall of US$4.8 million in 2004 for the first phase and would need US$64 million for a special operation in 2005. It said funds for 2005 are needed as soon as possible because work should be done as much as possible during the dry season from October 2004 to May 2005.
"Investment in infrastructure is crucial to getting southern Sudan on its long-awaited road to recovery after decades of conflict. It is also urgent because between 600,000 and 1.2 million people are expected to return after the signing of a final peace agreement for the south," said Barbara van Logchem, WFP Project Manager for the Special Operation.
"These roads are the arteries to attract people back to the south. Delayed funding now means less opportunity for repairs during the dry season, which in turn means no visible peace dividend. This also delays economic growth and resettlement for people desperate for a new beginning," she added.
The Government of Sudan and Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) are expected to sign a final peace agreement covering the south by the end of December.
South Sudan covers 650,000 square kilometers -- the size of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi combined. Yet the total road network is only 7,500 kilometres of main roads, most of which are unusable at least for part of the year, plus 10,000 kilometres of key feeder roads. None are tarmac except for a few kilometers in Juba town.
WFP's Special Road Operation aims to facilitate the return and resettlement of people while providing visual, tangible peace dividends and contributing to conflict prevention. Better roads also stimulate economic growth through increased transportation and trade.
With roads linked to the River Nile, the cost of food production and delivery will be reduced while farmers' access to markets will grow. In addition, the delivery costs of food aid will decrease and eventually the need for large quantities of aid to support people in southern Sudan should diminish.
The first phase of WFP road repairs and demining ran from January until October this year, budgeted at US$21 million. It included the repair of three main routes: the Western Corridor linking south Sudan to Uganda, the Eastern Corridor linking the south to Kenya and a dyke/road project in Bor County to mitigate flooding from the Nile, improve food security and start opening up access to the north.
Already, daily bus services have started from Uganda into Sudan and up to the town of Yei and more types of vehicles are using the road, allowing small entrepreneurs to use pickups. Transport rates have dropped and prices of basic items such as maize, soap, sugar, soap and fuel have decreased by 20 percent in Yei since the beginning of the year.
The second phase, covered by the Special Operation, aims to demine and repair eight additional routes for a total distance of 1,600 kilometres. Implementation of the second phase, which could have started in October 2004 was delayed to January 2005 because of a lack of funding.
The WFP Special Operation activities were identified as an urgent need by the SPLM at the Oslo donor meeting in September 2004. Work can commence as soon as funding is made available. The project will ensure an immediate and visible impact on the ground.
To date, WFP's road repair and demining in southern Sudan since January this year has received contributions from the United States (US$16.7 million), the Netherlands (US$3.3 million), Norway (US$1 million) and Italy (US$300,000).
Note to Editors and Reporters Covering the Nairobi Summit on a Mine-Free World: video and photographs are available of road rehabilitation and demining in Sudan
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