Living hand to mouth: protection funding and coordination in South Sudan
This paper explores the inter-connections between funding and coordination for the protection sector, employing a case study approach from South Sudan, where the author worked between 2005 and 2009. After describing the coordination arrangements in place under humanitarian reform initiatives, I contrast the rhetoric of protection coordination policies against my experience of how protection coordination worked in practice; recognising the added complexity of working in an integrated Department of Peace Keeping Operations (DPKO) mission. I will then detail the various mechanisms available to fund protection projects in the case of Sudan where the cluster system has been implemented at country level.
The case study draws on funding data from the annual UN and Partners Work Plan for Sudan, and presents insights as to how members of the South Sudan protection sector were successful in obtaining funding through this channel. By doing this, I expand the notion of protection sector actors further than those who consider funding from the perspective of UNHCR only. I also make some preliminary observations about the challenges of developing quantitative outcomes in a sector that I would posit, is geared more towards qualitative outputs. Overall the approach I take in this paper is inspired by the work of scholars such as Harrell-Bond, who encourage a more reflective and critical approach towards refugee protection. It also attempts to bring into the frame the role played by practitioners as advocates for the protection sector.
Refugee protection operates simultaneously at the global and regional levels, and in its practical application in complex micro-settings around the world. Much of the responsibility for defining protection and articulating response frameworks, lies with the Inter-Agency Standing Committee (IASC) Protection Cluster Working Group; a body of UN and non-UN agencies. They have defined protection as “all activities aimed at ensuring full respect for the rights of the individual in accordance with the letter and the spirit of the relevant bodies of law (i.e. human rights law, international humanitarian law and refugee law.”