Western Equatoria State, being one of the largest states in South Sudan and commonly referred to as "the bread basket of Sudan," is starting the long climb back to its former productivity, with small farmers producing surplus farm produce that is made available in the local markets. Infrastructure development in South Sudan was crippled by decades of civil war and a devastated economy. Now, there is a renewed focus on rebuilding the economy through the variety of means, including roads rehabilitation. On June 13, 2011, both U.S. and Government of South Sudan officials, including the local community, met in Tambura town to cut the ribbon as they inaugurated the first all-weather road in the state. "The first phase of this program was completed and handed over to the Ministry of Transport and Roads and to the Government of Western Equatoria in November 2009, and together with the roads being inaugurated today, a total of 262 kilometers of roads will have been rehabilitated through USAID funding, in western Equatoria State alone," said William Hammink, former USAID Sudan Mission Director. "These roads represent the longstanding partnership between USAID and the Ministry of Transport and Roads and the people in Government of Western Equatoria State." Infrastructure will play a key role in newly independent South Sudan's development. Roads such as Diabio-Tambura and Diabio-Ezo Roads will increase employment and trade opportunities, improve access to rural areas -- especially important for reaching health services -- and reduce insecurity. A South Sudanese woman who has been driven from her home by conflict said, "I am very impressed with USAID and the American people for what they did for us. Now that the road is good, I don't think we would have many problems again like before where by the access to health service was a biggest problem. May God bless USAID and the American People."This entry also appears on USAID's Impact Blog.
Sarah Armstrong serves as a Development, Outreach, and Communications Officer at USAID's Mission in South Sudan.