Conflict and famine - South Sudan

The people of South Sudan have experienced a long period of violent conflict and upheaval, beginning with the struggle for independence from Sudan and the subsequent outbreak of hostilities by warring political rivals and their military factions. Despite numerous attempts at peace accords in South Sudan, by early 2017 the humanitarian situation had deteriorated dramatically due to a combination of drought and the continued instability to food supply caused by the conflict. This resulted in a declaration of famine across parts of the young country.

Communities in South Sudan are making fishing nets using the World Vision fishing kits ©World Vision Australia.

Communities in South Sudan are making fishing nets using the World Vision fishing kits ©World Vision Australia.

With more than 3 million people either internally displaced or seeking refuge in neighbouring countries, the United Nations estimated that millions were facing food insecurity and were in dire need of humanitarian assistance. The Australian Humanitarian Partnership (AHP) was activated in early March 2017 and World Vision Australia and Oxfam Australia were selected to provide life-saving support to vulnerable communities in South Sudan.

AHP Response

The AHP was activated in March 2017 and the Australian Government allocated AUD 5 million to support humanitarian assistance to those impacted by the conflict and facing resultant severe food insecurity.

World Vision

World Vision’s emergency response project is supporting the immediate needs of more than 170,000 food insecure and conflict affected women, men, girls and boys in the Unity and NBeG States. The key focus of the response is community-based management of acute malnutrition, emergency food security and livelihoods support, and water, sanitation and hygiene activities. This work is being complemented by activities designed to strengthen community structures to prevent and respond to protection needs, particularly sexual and gender-based violence.

The World Vision project is supporting 9000 vulnerable households in enhanced food production, providing the training and resources to grow nutritionally diverse vegetables and crops, and also provides fishing equipment to vulnerable households to help increase local protein intake. To support this, the project is distributing vegetable kits and agricultural hand tools (including low-cost tools to support hand irrigation) and fishing kits to 6000 food-insecure households.

Oxfam Australia

Access to displaced communities in South Sudan is challenging © Oxfam AQustralia

Access to displaced communities in South Sudan is challenging © Oxfam AQustralia

Oxfam Australia’s AHP-funded response in South Sudan focuses on the provision of water, sanitation, and hygiene resources to meet the basic survival needs of around 100,000 vulnerable people, ensuring at least 50 percent are women. Operating in the Unity and Jonglei states, Oxfam is targeting populations living in areas that present acute and chronic water needs, utilising knowledge of the local operating context and relationships with local humanitarian actors and authorities. These activities are critical to stem the spread of cholera, for which suspected cases and deaths have been reported in Oxfam’s project areas. Oxfam is concentrating its efforts on internally displaced, returnees and host communities, with specific prioritised interventions for women, children, the elderly and people with disabilities.  Activities include the construction of new boreholes, rehabilitation of existing boreholes and hand pumps, and the distribution of household water containers and water treatment options. These distributions are supported by training for pump mechanics, the establishment of community water point committees to manage the water, and water quality and safety monitoring. Oxfam is providing household latrines, cleaning kits and latrine pit digging kits, while also providing important hand washing, bathing and laundry facilities.

Hygiene kits are provided to women and long-lasting treated mosquito nets for families with pregnant and lactating mothers. Hygiene practice is promoted through the recruitment of community hygiene mobilisers and hygiene promotions and campaigns.

South Sudan, 2017Clare Price