South Sudan's only hope for overcoming these challenges rests with its children. The UN World Food Programme (WFP) is helping to build that future with school meals. This depends though on voluntary funding from governments and the public. The more resources committed to war the less for building the future.
Amor Alogro of WFP says the agency fed 560,261 schoolchildren in Darfur during January and hopes to continue this for the rest of the year. WFP depends on voluntary funding for its operations but its school feeding is short of about $US 33 million dollars.
In South Sudan WFP officer George Fominyen says the agency is going to feed 424,000 children with school meals plus an additional 40,000 girls will receive take-home rations.
WFP provides the meals in the areas where hunger is greatest but they cannot reach all hungry children. The goal is for South Sudan to build a national school feeding program, a difficult task given the constant setbacks from drought and conflict.
Sudan and South Sudan cannot advance their society through endless war and military expense. There is massive distrust between the states, which is not going away any time soon. The new demilitarized zone, once fully implemented, is at least a ray of hope.
We know from our own history that sometimes these agreements can help build peace. The Rush-Bagot agreement disarmed British and American warships on the Great Lakes following years of warfare and when border disputes from Maine to Oregon still existed.
South Sudan and Sudan need to realize that the swords have to be dropped and disputes resolved at the conference table rather than on the battlefield.