In the last Non-Food Items (NFIs) project, which started on 1 October 2016 and ended in May 2017, Polish Humanitarian Action’s (PAH) emergency response team conducted 10 mobile interventions that made every effort possible to reach 93,412 IDPs through in-kind NFIs distribution. Explaining the mission, PAH’s project coordinator of NFIs/CBI projects, Lumaya Emmanuel, said his emergency response team assisted the most vulnerable host communities and returnees, mostly those who have found life so difficult to live in refugee camps in Uganda and have decided to return to Nimule. “They struggled to resettle in Nimule, but all along life has not been easy for them.” Lumaya said.
According to the project coordinator, the breakdown of the population assisted includes 18,529 men, 23,642 women, 25,221 boys and 26,020 girls, in 16,857 households. “The NFIs in-kind project served diligently for 8 months in rotational remote villages across South Sudan, where the proposed numbers of beneficiaries were only 49,000 individuals, but the team exceeded the figures because of high demands in the country,” Lumaya said.
PAH’s intervention covered the geographical locations of Unity, Jonglei, Upper Nile, Eastern and Central Equatoria States. Using limited resources, the team was able to serve more beneficiaries with lifesaving NFIs such as mosquito nets, blankets, cooking sets, sleeping mats, plastic sheets for emergency shelters construction, soap for hygiene needs and kangas (meeting the dignity and needs of females) across the country.
The teams’ communication with communities and the sensitization of the communities to the proper use of the NFIs has been a highpoint of the interventions, demonstrating methods and raising the interest of the affected population to use the items in line with their needs. The organization coordinates its responses closely with humanitarian partners at all levels of National, State and Local communities. PAH as a key Emergency Shelter and NFIs partner was voted by International Humanitarian Non-Governmental Organization (IHNGO) peers into the Strategic Advisory Group (SAG) representing the INGOs. The SAG is a group that develops policies for the cluster together with the cluster coordination team.
NFIs emergency response team participated in three Inter-clusters rapid responses missions that were organized by UN-OCHA as part of the famine response in the central Unity state. Three post-distribution monitoring missions were conducted by PAH’s Monitoring and Evaluation (ME) team to measure the impact of the interventions. “PAH’s cooperation with local communities has been very good as one of the feedback frequently received from local authorities”, Lumaya said.
In addition to the NFIs in-kind project, thanks to the generosity of South Sudan Humanitarian Funds (SSHF), formerly known as Common Humanitarian Funds (CHF), PAH is currently able to carry out two NFIs projects simultaneously. In addition to its other activities, PAH also runs an NFIs Project that was started in June 2017 and which focuses on reaching the beneficiaries’ needs through the in-kind distributions of shelter and lost non-food items by its NFIs mobile team in remote locations where emergency needs have been identified.
In its second project, which started in August 2017, PAH’s NFI team started piloting the first NFI cluster Cash Based Intervention (CBI) in Kajo-keji county of the Central Equatoria state. Due to limited access to move supplies to Kajo-keji and other parts of Central Equatoria State, the CBI modality is possible through Kajo-keji’s proximity to the Ugandan border. There are available markets for local traders to access commodities, making it possible to carry out the CBI modality. With support from the SSHF, it is possible for PAH to embark on CBI aims in order to benefit 30,000 individuals who have fled South Sudan’s violent conflict from Lanya, Morobo, Yei and Kajo-Kaji. The conflict affected the population nervously camped at the border of South Sudan with Uganda, in three locations of Kajo-Keji at Ajio, Kerwa and Logo.
According to Lumaya, it is an option open in connection with the regular in-kind NFIs intervention mode. CBIs aims are not only to alleviate human suffering, but also to strengthen community resilience and the local economy by empowering local traders.
He added that it is convenient and efficient to offer aid in the form of CBI, “We are giving the beneficiaries restricted commodity vouchers that they will trade for NFIs at selected vendor shops only,” Lumay explained.
Despite all the improvements reached in various communities across South Sudan, the gaps that still exist in response are challenging and need to be addressed. The project coordinator said the overwhelming challenge is the shortage of resources; PAH does not have sufficient items to meet the needs of the beneficiaries appropriately.
In locations where PAH targeted IDPs, the resources cannot meet the needs of their host families, since only severe vulnerable host communities are included among the IDPs. This can lead to tension in the communities between hosts and IDPs, because all over South Sudan there are problems that affect inhabitants, where all PAH can do is to only target the most vulnerable host families together with the IDPs.
He said the need for more resources to meet the needs of the affected communities is still great in South Sudan, as affected communities flee without basic household items. “We encourage them to use their local available materials to provide temporal shelters or grass thatch houses; this is done to build communities’ resilience, especially during the dry season when we encourage them to use grass.”
He said the major challenge to humanitarian responses in South Sudan is the ongoing conflict across the country, limiting access to communities in need, “In addition to conflicts, there are also logistical constraints to our interventions, due to limited infrastructure such as roads, airstrips, bridges etc. The remoteness of some locations makes it difficult for the teams to access beneficiaries,” Lumaya explained.
Overwhelmed logistics clusters result in delays in delivering supplies in response to people in need, as most areas are in remote locations where teams have to cross rivers, swamps and forests to access the locations of the beneficiaries. Limited communication has been a major challenge for the teams in ensuring their safety and providing regular reporting to the office in Juba.
Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH)’s mission in South Sudan has been responding to emergency needs of displaced persons seeking protection in hard-to-reach (remote) villages. Since 2011, PAH has been developing a specialized NFIs segment, expanding activities across the country to the constantly growing population in need. PAH has helped people fleeing violent conflicts and natural disasters with basic lifesaving household non-food items (NFIs) through its Emergency Response Team (ERT).