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Great expectations in Southern Sudan

Nicholas van Praag's picture

When I last visited Juba in 1981, it was a sullen garrison town.  Today the mood in Southern Sudan’s capital is more upbeat, but it is tempered by concerns about the present and hard-to-realize expectations for the future.    

    Basic services remain basic.  Photo: Arne Hoel / World Bank.

As Sarah Cliffe and I discovered on a trip there last month, there is a lot going on.  Trade is as brisk in the town’s market places as traffic is slow on its crowded streets.  We did not get a chance to leave town but I would have loved to discover what's happening beyond the city limits. 

The city itself has grown rapidly—to half a million people—since the Comprehensive Peace Agreement was signed in 2005, ending decades of fighting and setting out a timetable for self-determination. 

At the open-air cafes along the river Nile, talk is all about next’s April’s national elections and the referendum that follows in January 2011 when voters will decide whether the South will remain part of a unified Sudan or become independent.