In July this year, South Sudan celebrated two years of independence, but the country still faces huge humanitarian problems. This week, the United Nations and international aid agencies have launched a multi-year appeal to gain funding from donors which would support South Sudan in 2014–2016.
The three-year support plan initially seeks funding of 1.1 billion dollars for 2014 when the focus of humanitarian work will be on three main areas: responding to emergencies, building community resilience and strengthening the capacity of national and local authorities. The money will be distributed among nearly 130 different aid organisations and help more than 3 million South Sudanese people.
According to the UN’s development and humanitarian co-ordinator in South Sudan, Toby Lanzer, the funding would ensure 2.9 million people have better access to clean water, 1 million people would receive support with building livelihoods and more than three-quarters of children who have been affected by crises will be helped back into education.
Change is happening, though challenges remain
Through the year, improvements in the broad situation across South Sudan are already being noted by the UN. The arrival of Sudanese refugees from the Blue Nile and South Kordofan states has slowed and severe food insecurity has decreased by 6% this year. Nevertheless, around 1.3 million people are still estimated to require food aid in 2014. UN agencies intend to use some of the funding from the appeal to help small farmers and ensure more people are able to feed themselves.
Writing in the Guardian, Mr Lanzer notes the resilience of the South Sudanese people, many of whom survive in extremely poor and insecure areas. And yet, “these people never strike me as victims”, he says. Nevertheless, with around 6 million people (around half South Sudan’s population) living below the national poverty line of around 16 dollars per month, any adversity can leave families destitute and struggling to survive.
If raised, funding from the appeal would equate to around 355 dollars per South Sudanese person in 2014. By spending this money on a range of measures to save lives, help families cope better with future crises and create new opportunities, the humanitarian coordinator believes it will be “an extremely worthwhile investment”.