North and South Sudan economic warfare: Lesson for the future

Category: Commentary
Published on Thursday, 02 June 2011 04:32
Written by Chol de kwot, The New Sudan Vision (NSV), www.newsudanvision. com
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Manchester, UK - Trade between economically ‘rich’ North Sudan and deprived South Sudan was expected to flourish during the six years of Interim Period ushered in by the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) signed between Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) and the Government of Sudan (GoS) on January 9, 2005 at Nyayo Stadium, Nairobi, Kenya; ending 22 years of civil war that had devastated South Sudan largely traditional economy. The trade between North and South Sudan for the last six years had never been one of a mutually beneficial exchange of goods, capital and services between the two Sudanese territories but rather a trade in which North Sudan has continued to command absolute advantage over South Sudan due to its superior production capacity. The north gets all the benefits of this trade arrangement since South Sudan exports nothing to North Sudan in exchange for goods, capital and services imported into South Sudan. As a result of the trade, South Sudan contributes substantially to North Sudan growth domestic income.

However, this favorable trade deal to North Sudan took unprecedented turn last week when the Government of Sudan imposed goods and capital blockade on South Sudan at the eve of imminent military offensive in Abyei and its surrounding areas. One might wonder why the Government of Sudan imposed goods and capital blockade on South Sudan, which is benefiting its economy. The decision to blockade all North Sudan goods’ entry points into South Sudan is part and parcel of the Government of Sudan war strategies on South Sudan. The Government of Sudan had imposed blockade as part of its military strategy to deprive South Sudan territory from accessing goods, capital and services that might make South Sudan military and population better in responding to Republic of the Sudan military aggression and advances on Abyei, Kuek, and other South Sudan territories of greater interest. Furthermore, this is not the first time goods and capital blockade had been used as a weapon of war in Sudanese conflict.

Throughout the 22 years of civil war, the Government of Sudan had successfully used combination of goods and capital blockade and destruction of local economy as a weapon of war to punish the entire population of South Sudan or to subdue certain areas to control by the North or to weaken region’s efforts to wage war against SAF and its militias. Examples of devastations of economic warfare used before by the Government of Sudan include the great Chapoth famine of 1993 in Greater Bor area and Northern Bahr el Ghazal famine of 1998, which were caused by White Army of former SPLA Nasir Faction and SAF militias destruction of Dinka Bor and Northern Bahr el Ghazal local economies respectively. The devastating effects of the ensuing famines after destruction of Dinka Bor and Northern Bahr el Ghazal’s economies in 1993 and 1998 respectively were aggregated by the Government of Sudan’s refusal to grant flight permission to UN agencies and NGOs to supply food and medicines to those affected regions of South Sudan.

The Government of Sudan’s refusal to grant permission to UN WFP and NGOs operations in Greater Bor and Bahr el Ghazal regions during those famines’ times resulted into death of thousands of innocent civilians. The great Chapoth and Northern Bahr el Ghazal famines are examples among numerous cases of the Government of Sudan use of food deprivation policy as a weapon of war in South Sudan. Notwithstanding its devastating effects, economic warfare did not give the Government of Sudan military advantage over Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army during the 22 year-old civil war. Although the Republic of South Sudan cannot be defeated by the Republic of the Sudan through military action including economic warfare, it seems the Government of Sudan enjoys using economic warfare as an effective military strategy to ensure entire population of South Sudan suffers from war and its related consequences. More so, these grave times, where Kenya and Uganda are experiencing acute shortage of grain supplies against population demands and the subsequent unrest brought about by food and fuel crisis in those countries, leave GOSS with limited and costly options of satisfying food and fuel demands in South Sudan. The Government of Sudan very well knew the consequences of regional economic crisis on South Sudan and took advantage of it to impose both economic and military pressures on Government of South Sudan in order to get favorable concessions on remaining contested issues of CPA.

The lesson learned from this economic warfare is that South Sudan food system should never again depend wholly on North Sudan or another country’s food system. As stated in a popular Dinka metaphor, ‘kake rande cin amok ke kou piat’ (resources administered by somebody else with different needs and interests will never satisfy your needs and interests the way you want them satisfied), so the Republic of South Sudan should not rely on other countries for food supply and distribution systems to address her population’s food demand.

Therefore, how can Republic of South Sudan safeguard her population from being subjected again in the future to politically induced hunger by her belligerent neighbor – the Republic of the Sudan? To me, it is now time to ensure Republic of South Sudan food system is planned and managed so that unforeseen circumstances such as current blockade on import of food stuffs and other goods into South Sudan cannot leave South Sudan population susceptible to the Government of Sudan war schemes in the future. GOSS should respond to this situation by allocating funds and establishing statutory companies to initiate and implement cereals/grains production in the country starting this year. Statutory companies in the name of South Sudan Cereals Corporation (SSCC) and South Sudan Sugar Corporation should be established with mandates to ensure Republic of South Sudan is cereals/grains and sugar sufficient by the end of 2012 and beyond. It is high time the Government of the Republic of South Sudan prioritized food production and management so that chances of induced hunger as a weapon of war are eliminated and the country’s financial system is protected from hyperinflation as a result of continuously hiking food prices as witnessed recently throughout South Sudan.

Chol de Kwot, BCom, MBA, MSc, MCIPS, is an expert in Procurement, Logistics, SCM, Project and Strategic Management. He can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..