Alex de Waal’s post gives a rich history of the concept of “New Sudan,” but he goes on to say that the real New Sudan is one of urbanization–75% of the population by 2015.
This trend makes the ASAH project even more relevant. We are trying to build a boarding school in very rural southern Sudan, but just as the small towns of North Dakota suffer from depopulation, the village of Duk Payuel may suffer from depopulation if services are not established in the next few years. The Duk Lost Boy Clinic provides one anchor for the village; our school, and a primary school, can provide another anchor. Without educational opportunities, health care, and other infrastructure, of course the rural Sudanese will be part of the global pattern of urban migration.
The significantly untapped industry in the region is probably agriculture, and for the for-seeable future, that agriculture will be labor intensive, giving the villagers potential income and opportunity. My view is optimistic, of course. The largest center if the region, Bor, is reported to have grown from 7,000 to 70,000 in about a year.