The Republic of South Sudan became the world’s newest nation on July 9, 2011, following a peaceful secession from the Sudan through a referendum in January 2011. The prolonged conflict between North and South has, however, left behind a severely fragmented society and a proliferation of armed groups throughout the country. Despite the signing of a Peace Agreement on in August 2015 and pressure of the international community, peace is still not consolidated and since December 2013, South Sudan has been ravaged by civil war.
South Sudan is one of the poorest countries in the world, with a weak and underdeveloped economy, poor infrastructure, a poor access to health care, high maternal and child mortality and widespread hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. In addition, in May 2018, nearly 4.3 million people, which is one in three people in South Sudan, have been displaced.
Description of the mission
Première Urgence Internationale is present in Aweil North, in former Northern Bahr el Ghazal State since April 2015. Although not a conflict area, Northern Bhar el Ghazal is affected by food insecurity and high malnutrition rates in children under five years and pregnant and lactating women. A multi sectoral assessment done in February-March 2017 by Première Urgence Internationale showed that 4 in 10 children were acute malnourished in the assessed population and more than 50% have to walk more than one hour to reach a health facility.
The South Sudan mission is aiming an integrated approach providing access to quality primary health care, treatment of acute malnutrition and improving food security. Each single activity is supporting the other activities, as to have an effective program with a large impact reaching the most vulnerable.
The aim for 2018 is to further develop the integrated approach as to have a greater impact in Aweil North and to expand activities to other geographical areas.
Premiere Urgence Internationale in action
Currently, Première Urgence Internationale in South Sudan provides Health and Nutrition services, through 15 nutrition sites and a network of Community Nutrition Volunteers that allows notably the organisation of mother to mother support groups in Aweil North in hard to reach areas and mobile outreach in 15 different villages. Moreover, the mobile immunisation teams and mobile maternal health teams come on fixed days to each of the 15 villages.
In addition, in 2018, Première Urgence Internationale implemented a food security and livelihood program in 18 villages. The main aim is to prevent malnutrition and to build the capacity of the population to increase production of food.
The local community is involved in identifying needs and monitoring of the services through Village committees.
Intervening in South Sudan is a constant challenge
Independent since 2011, South Sudan is a country at war. The situation in the country is really complicated and unstable, with heavy fightings since December 2013. A peace agreement was signed in 2015 but violations of the ceasefire continue. The last peace agreement has been signed in September 2018, since then fighting has decreased. This gives hope for the future, but the country is far from stable.
The transitional government was supposed to start mid May 2019, but was not yet ready and therefore this has been postponed till mid november 2019. The context keeps being unstable. Cobi Rietveld was head of mission for Première Urgence Internationale in the country for 4 years. She tells about the challenges to face, in a country where half of the population, nearly 7 million people, are in food insecurity.