South Sudan marks its third anniversary since it gained independence from Sudan three years ago this month. Since independence the country has suffered internal conflict and currently 1.5 million people have been displaced and around 4 million face alarming food insecurity as a result of the fighting that started in December 2013. After watching the situation closely an Integral Disaster Response alert for South Sudan was raised in January 2014 and eleven Members opted into the response, with six Members already operational within the country.
Jan Eyre, Integral’s Disaster Management and Progamme Coordinator explains: “The short-term strategy of the operational Members has been to share information with one another at field level by meeting together every 2-3 weeks in Juba, with others in different parts of the country joining by Skype. The main purpose of these face-to-face meetings is to identify opportunities to support one another’s work, and also provide fellowship and support for each other as the security situation within the country continues to be very fragile.”
Integral Members programming for this crisis is focused around food, WASH and Health as there are serious food needs in many of the areas where Integral Members are working. Jan says, “There are high levels of Severe Acute Malnutrition and widespread reports of communities depending on leaves and cow’s blood for sustenance.”
Integral Members have also responded to the recent Cholera outbreak in Juba and beyond. Food for the Hungry has recently started to work cross-border with their team in Ethiopia to respond to the growing numbers of South Sudanese IDPs/ refugees in the Gambella corridor. Members on the ground continue to look for ways to complement and support one another’s work – including discussions on potentially sharing staff for Security or Monitoring and Evaluation, and sharing opportunities for training. Integral also recently gathered Members together at HQ level to discuss opportunities for collaboration on funding appeals or approaches to the media and to facilitate sharing of resources.
The Integral Programme Group, made up of the International Programme Directors of its Members, are currently forming a Shared Country Approach strategy, with South Sudan one of the chosen countries of focus. Jan says: “We are working on an overarching framework exploring how to work together, building on the co-ordination already happening in South Sudan through our Disaster Response. But we are also looking beyond this crisis towards establishing a collaborative development approach that really uses the collective strengths of our Members to help alleviate the terrible suffering so many are currently experiencing in South Sudan.”