Impact of COVID-19 on Trade, Peace and Health System in South Sudan

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Malish, John Peter
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African Economic Research Consortium
South Sudan is experiencing exponential rise in COVID-19 cases. The country is already struggling with the negative shock of the pandemic coupled with the climate shock, economic decline, political transition and crash in global oil prices that has put the economy in much deeper crisis than never before. COVID-19 adds to convergence of multiple crises that has further exacerbated the political and economic situation. Besides the trade sector shock, the pandemic has affected genuine progress in the peace process in the country. The onset of COVID-19 pandemic halfway into the formation of the new transitional government largely contributed to delayed completion of critical peace activities. Similarly, the pandemic increased pressure on the weak health system in South Sudan. The country’s health system is mainly funded and serviced by donors and humanitarian agencies with limited government investment and service provision. The pandemic shifted the focus of many donors from combating deadly diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea and acute respiratory infection that threaten public health to COVID-19 response. This paper explores the pandemic impact on the trade sector with specific focus on the cross-border trade, and also its underlying effect on the underfunded and fragile health system and fluid peace process in South Sudan. The research is grounded on the overall objective to examine the impact of COVID-19 pandemic and government response mechanisms on trade, health system and peace process in South Sudan. The research was commissioned by the African Economic Research Consortium (AERC) to assess the impact of COVID-19 pandemic in the socioeconomic, public health, and political transition in the region. The study used secondary research method that focused on qualitative and quantitative analysis of available data from government entities and humanitarian partners. Secondary data on trade, revenue and government policies were accessed from the government institutions. Relevant literature and reports by humanitarian agencies, including international NGOs, UN agencies and think tanks were reviewed.