South Sudan: Advocacy and training support access to rights and rebuild livelihoods

Since 2013, recurring conflicts in South Sudan have caused approximately 4.2 million people to flee their homes. Floods and droughts further compound displacement risk. Displaced people lack access to essential services such as food, water, healthcare and shelter. Root of Generations (RoG), a local NGO and MDS implementing partner, has responded to the challenges  of displaced people, living in Gumbo, on the edge of Juba and strengthened a sense of community. The organisation has supported displaced people in Gumbo to understand their rights and has worked together with civil society groups to commit government authorities to take action to generate livelihood opportunities for urban displaced.

  • Foster community cohesion among displaced people
  • Promote integration of displaced people within host community or in new settlement
  • Support advocacy to access rights
  • Strengthen skills for employment and entrepreneurship
  • Co-develop locally relevant income-generating activities

Around the city of Juba, many displaced people live in informal settlements and rely on humanitarian assistance. They have limited resources and  live in houses made from whatever materials they can find locally. RoG worked with six communities to understand their needs and capacities and enhance their resilience. Three of them are slums and squatter settlements. Many of the residents have been displaced by conflict and – being newly located near the river – are exposed to substantial flood risk. Another community, settled in semi-permanent structures, has been displaced for over 20 years, with residents dependent on small-scale agriculture and operating businesses along the highway. Other communities – also living in semi-permanent structures – were displaced by flooding in 2019 or  by violence in 2016 and 2019. Many of these communities suffer similar vulnerabilities, including exposure to industrial waste, floods, high crime rates, water insecurity, poor housing and inadequate sanitation.

Although access to basic services was highlighted by a majority of the communities,they agreed that addressing unemployment was a key priority within MDS. As a result of the work by RoG, beneficiaries have reported improvements to food security, shelter quality and confidence in advocating for themselves and their community.

The first step to address the communities’ needs was to foster cohesion.. Differences in ethnic and cultural backgrounds among displaced people and also in respect to host communities, can sometimes create misunderstandings and challenges. In order to address cultural differences and conflict over land ownership and access to resources, RoG staff held separate meetings with the host community so they could voice their concerns. RoG also worked to increase livelihood opportunities for displaced people to avoid straining available resources such as farmland.

“I can now make dresses and sell them to the community. I contribute my cash to the group pool on a weekly basis without fail. My family life has been transformed. My children are back to school. I save money and pay for their fees. We have a meal twice a day which was not there before. I can afford hospital bills in case of sickness. I renovated my house and added a small room where my children can sleep. We used to all sleep in the same room and our legs stayed outside, which was hard when the rains fell.”

Alice, living in Gumbo, Juba, South Sudan

RoG raised awareness among displaced people of their rights, in particular to basic services, decent work, and education, and of ways to claim those rights. Representatives went door to door to provide information about their rights and also utilised community meetings and local media –  such as TV, radio, newspapers and social media – to bring attention to the challenges faced by displaced people. Three radio talk shows reached a combined audience of 50,000 people and called for their inclusion of displaced people in future interventions.

Local government authorities were involved at the start of the project, participating in both the VFL methodology and the ULL approach. RoG visited displaced people’s homes to understand their needs, and engaged local and national government authorities by facilitating roundtable discussions with displaced people and the host community. A social media campaign highlighted displacement as a national risk and aimed to promote the inclusion of displaced people in decision making and development planning. In response, the national government asked host states to allocate land for displaced people.

At the community level, RoG worked with 25 beneficiaries to develop five businesses in the community, providing goods and services like tailoring, fast-moving consumer goods, second hand cloth, fresh produce, and agricultural seeds. The groups pooled their savings so that if the group reached a particular threshold, the extra money was used to support a sixth new startup group. In this way the capital keeps growing to benefit more displaced people.

Root of Generations (ROG) is a national nongovernmental organisation founded in 2010 and officially registered in 2016 by the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission. Its mandate is to lead empowerment efforts for women through civic education, peace building, eradication of gender-based violence, promoting human rights and imparting life skills for sustainable livelihoods.

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This case study was produced as part of our Making Displacement Safer Cookbook – a resource on addressing DRR challenges faced by displaced communities in urban areas.

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Project funded by

United States Agency for International Development

Our Making Displacement Safer project is made possible by the support of the American People through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) – Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance. Content related to this project on our website was made possible by the support of the USAID. All content is the sole responsibility of GNDR and does not necessarily reflect the views of the USAID.

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