ACF Provides Humanitarian Assistance to Thousands Returning to Southern Sudan during Referendum

Basic services needed for families traveling south after historic vote
Photo credit: © ACF-southern Sudan

JUBA, SOUTHERN SUDAN—Global humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger | ACF International is responding to the basic needs of nearly 35,000 people relocating to southern Sudan in the period surrounding the historic vote for independence from January 9-15, 2011. Southern Sudan has experienced an influx of nearly 200,000 people over the last several weeks, with thousands more expected to arrive in the coming weeks and months.

In Warrap and Northern Bahr El Ghazal States, where more than 64,000 people have returned in the past two and a half months, ACF is providing access to clean water and sanitation, education on basic hygiene, and nutrition screening and referral services. The organization is offering these services to people who have reached their final destinations, as well as to those in transit locations awaiting transportation to these more permanent areas.

“With hundreds of families arriving at transit centers every day, the capacity of humanitarian organizations to deliver much-needed services in nutrition, health, water, and sanitation is stretched,” said Onno van Manen, Action Against Hunger’s Country Director in southern Sudan. “Because we expect even more people to continue returning south, we are scaling up these life-saving programs to reach up to 75,000 people in the coming days.”

Action Against Hunger’s clean water programs include borehole construction and repair, and the installation of hand-pumps, tap stands, and inflatable “bladder” tanks. Over 70,000 liters of potable water are provided to the population on a daily basis.

In addition, the agency has constructed over 40 emergency latrines, with dozens more planned, screened nearly 2,700 children for acute malnutrition—125 of whom were admitted to ACF-supported nutrition centers for treatment—and conducted hygiene promotion sessions aimed at improving health and preventing outbreaks of water-borne illnesses. The humanitarian organization is also providing logistical support, training, and supervision for a measles vaccination campaign to reach over 50,000 people at-risk of contracting the disease.

“If the current challenges of moving people from the temporary locations to their final destinations persist, ACF will continue its activities in these transit areas for the foreseeable future,” said van Manen. “At the same time, we are focused on helping people returning to the south reintegrate into host communities and begin the process of starting their lives anew.”

Action Against Hunger calls for sustained investment in southern Sudan, which is only beginning to rebuild after decades of war and neglect. To avert food shortages, recent returnees will need land allocations, plus seeds and tools in advance of the next planting season in May 2011. Improved access to income-generating opportunities, safe water, and medical care are also critical to reduce tensions with host communities as resources are stretched thin.

Over the long term Action Against Hunger will be distributing agricultural inputs for cultivation, scaling up its rehabilitation and construction of new water points, helping communities in their efforts to manage their water resources effectively, supporting local markets, and implementing projects to help returnees and the local population generate income.

Action Against Hunger has worked in southern Sudan since 1985, implementing programs in nutrition, food security and livelihoods, and water and sanitation. Last year over 12,700 cases of acute malnutrition, a potentially deadly condition, were treated at ACF-supported outpatient and inpatient nutrition centers in Warrap and Northern Bahr El Ghazal states.