1. Rationale and foundations of the MSNA
During 2020 high humanitarian needs continued across South Sudan, and the convergence of multiple shocks in already vulnerable areas have further destroyed livelihoods and hindered humanitarian assistance. Shocks included climatic events, such as heavy rains and flooding in some parts of the country, coupled with drought and desert locusts in others. The continuation of armed conflict, resultant mass displacement, mobility restrictions due to COVID-19, increase in market prices, and disruption to aid delivery were also seen. Notwithstanding the ceasefire that followed the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS), many areas of the country continued to witness national, sub-national, localised and grassroots violence, mostly driven by resource scarcity in areas that have experienced years of severe food insecurity. As a result of this year’s convergence of shocks, 8.3 million people were classified as “in need”, as of January 2021, an increase from the 7.5 million people in need in 2020.
Crucial information gaps persisted in South Sudan, with poor access to many parts of the country due to insecurity and inadequate infrastructure, together with COVID-19 travel restrictions and heavy rains that flooded road networks. These information gaps limited the effectiveness of humanitarian planning and implementation. In this context of humanitarian crisis, there was a vital need for up-to-date, country-wide information on the needs of the affected populations in South Sudan to support evidence-based decisionmaking of key humanitarian actors. REACH, in coordination with the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG), conducted a multi-sectoral needs assessment (MSNA) using the Area of Knowledge – Neighbourhoods (AoK-N) methodology, to provide updated data and analysis on multi-sectoral needs and priorities for crisis-affected populations in South Sudan and to inform strategic planning.
Building on its experience of conducting remote monthly monitoring through the Area of Knowledge (AoK) methodology in South Sudan since 2016, REACH, in coordination with OCHA and the ICCG, innovated the AoK-N, a remote, Key Informant (KI)-based household methodology. The AoK-N builds on the neighbourhood methodology that was first developed by the Care and Protection of Children (CPC) Learning Network to gather population-based data on difficult to measure or stigmatised concepts, such as Gender-Based Violence (GBV). The AoK-N is a remote KI-based methodology, based on the assumption that people reasonably know some information about other people in their immediate neighbourhood. The purpose of the AoK-N methodology was to provide household-level data on needs to inform the response, in a context where direct household surveys were extremely limited due to COVID-19 movement restrictions put in place by the Government of South Sudan in March 2020, as well as due to COVIDprotective measures taken by REACH to mitigate against the further spread of COVID-19. The AoK-N tool was designed with input from clusters and based as much as possible on the draft of the Joint Intersectoral Analysis Framework (JIAF), to ensure comparability between AoK-N and the Food Security and Nutrition Monitoring System+ (FSNMS+) assessments. The full Terms of Reference (ToR) for the AoK-N methodology is available here.
The 2020 South Sudan AoK-N MSNA aimed to cover all ten states in South Sudan and all populations with a quantitative, remote, data collection implemented between 3rd August and 1st September 2020. With the objective of gathering comparable information across the entire country, 2,930 face-to-face and phone KI interviews were conducted, covering a total of 21,260 households, across 75 counties.