Books for a secure future in South Sudan
As South Sudan’s recent peace deal struck in October last year continues to hold, Dr. Jacob K. Lupai, Associate Professor at the University of Juba and the Principal of Kuajok Community College for Human Resource Development and Extra-mural Studies explains how books that supporters like you helped to send will enable the world’s youngest nation recover from years of conflict.
Can you give us a bit of background to the conflict in South Sudan?
In 2011 after a war of more than 20 years with North Sudan (when South Sudan and North Sudan were one country), South Sudan became an independent country. Unfortunately in 2013 conflict broke out in South Sudan. There was rivalry between the President and his Vice President and this escalated into a wider spread, nationwide conflict. This affected people a lot – many people died, property was destroyed and some fled for their lives into other countries.
What is life like in South Sudan as a result of the conflict?
Things are hard. Inflation is very high and people are facing hardships. There is food insecurity and a lot of poverty. However, people are hopeful that things will get better [because of the peace agreement signed]. We want to improve the quality of life of people through education and provision of skills but without this peace, the future is uncertain.
What people need most is development, especially agricultural development, to improve the quality of their life by reducing poverty. We need connectivity, we need infrastructure so people come together and learn from each other.
With all of these challenges, how can books help – why not send food or construction materials?
We need agricultural development to achieve food security. In South Sudan over 80% of our people live in rural areas and a lot of people grow their own food. Our farming is quite basic so we need a profound change and this can be gained through books where research has been done on improved farming methods.
Books make people learn and are informed for better decision making.
When people learn, they gain skills and when they put these skills into practical use, results can be seen, in the way of an increase in food production and a high standard of living.
But there is a lack of books. We have universities, we have schools, but we badly need books.
How do you see the information in the books we have sent to support your university benefitting farmers in the rural areas?
The books are very important to give out this knowledge to university students. They will read the books that Book Aid International sent and when they graduate they can impart this knowledge to farmers or develop simple training programmes for farmers with the aim of increasing productivity.
What are your hopes for the future?
We’re optimistic that things will improve. When there is peace, there will be wide and vast opportunities for development – agriculture, forestry, fisheries, livestock, mining and so forth. Opportunities will open for young people to improve their quality of life. There is a lack of books in those areas so the books you have donated will be very helpful in developing skills for self-reliance.