On South Sudan’s 2nd Birthday, Hope and Hardship
Today, July 9th, marks the 2nd anniversary of independence for the world’s newest, youngest nation. While it’s a day for celebration in South Sudan, it’s also a time for serious reflection. Humanitarian challenges loom large over the country, with multiple emergencies and development needs. Ongoing tensions between Sudan and South Sudan, as well as internal violence in the Jonglei state, have substantially increased the number of refugees and internally displaced people (IDPs) in the country. This year, at least 4.6 million people will require assistance—and at least 4.1 million of them desperately need food aid.
Eight years after the Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), which ended the civil war and paved the path to peace and independence, the country still depends on humanitarian assistance. Out of an estimated population of 12 million, more than 50% live below the poverty line. For the last three years, more than 10% have been severely food insecure, and 30% moderately so.
“The largest project concerns nutrition treatment and health. We are also providing people with safe and clean water through 140 water points. Over 800 latrines have been built and 1,200 hygiene sessions were given. South Sudan’s nutritional challenges are enormous; we are closely working with international partners and the national Ministry of Health and we will continue to tackle the nation’s needs by expanding treatment activities into new areas.”
—Sirak Mehari Weldemicael, Action Against Hunger Country Director, South Sudan
Multiple Humanitarian Frontlines: Linking Relief and Development
By the end of 2012, active humanitarian assistance programs were running in 52 of South Sudan’s 79 counties. And they’ve been needed—floods, displacement, armed insurgencies, internal fighting, high food prices and the closure of the border with Sudan have contributed to a deterioration of the humanitarian situation. In Jonglei State, internal violence and insecurity has affected around 190,000 people. More than 170,000 refugees have fled to South Sudan from Sudan, due to ongoing violence in the latter’s Blue Nile and South Kordofan states.
The refugee crisis in the west and northwest, along with internal conflicts, are creating multiple frontlines, challenging humanitarian actors to work on both emergencies and development needs.
Constraints on Humanitarian Access
Besides these multiple frontlines, the government’s recent policies toward humanitarian organizations (taxation, delays in custom clearances, etc.) have exacerbated the threats to humanitarian access within the country. As the rainy season is starting, up to 60% of South Sudan might be cut off, including areas where we’re working and where Sudanese refugees are living.
Overcoming Food Insecurity
Hunger and undernutrition are persistent and seasonally recurring in South Sudan, despite a strong agricultural potential. We’re working in both Warrap and Northern Bahr El Gazal states, near the border with Sudan. Through nutrition, health, food security and water projects, we’re helping more than 350,000 people.
We greatly acknowledge the partners who are helping us implement these critical programs: the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Department (ECHO), the Swiss Development Cooperation (SDC), the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF), and UNICEF.
Our largest project is focused on nutrition treatment and health. We’re also dedicated to providing people with safe, clean water at 140 different water points. More than 800 latrines have been built, and we’ve led 1,200 sessions teaching people good hygiene practices.
While South Sudan’s nutritional challenges run deep, we’re collaborating closely with international partners and the national Ministry of Health to create sustainable solutions. It is our hope that by the nation’s 3rd birthday, the outlook will be that much stronger and more positive for the people of South Sudan.
Tell Us What You Think
What is your hope for the citizens of South Sudan for the upcoming year? What do you hope is achieved by the country’s 3rd anniversary of independence?