South Sudan

Area of Knowledge-Neighbourhoods: Assessment of Hard-to-Reach Areas in South Sudan, September 2020

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Despite recent improvements in the overall security situation, high humanitarian needs continue across South Sudan, and the convergence of multiple shocks in already vulnerable areas in 2020 and 2021 could lead to severe outcomes. Crucial information gaps remain in South Sudan, with poor access to many parts of the country due to insecurity and inadequate infrastructure. These information gaps limit the effectiveness of humanitarian planning and implementation. In addition, since COVID-19 travel restrictions were put in place to avoid the spread of the virus countrywide in March 2020, the ability to carry out data collection has been even more constrained. In this context, alternative and innovative data collection methodologies are required, to support humanitarian decision making and prioritisation.

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 the Organisation for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and the Inter Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG), innovated a remote, Key Informant (KI)-based household methodology: the “Area of Knowledge Neighbourhoods (AoK-N)”. The purpose of the AoK-N methodology is to provide household level data on needs to inform the response, in a context where direct household surveys are currently extremely limited. The AoK-N methodology aims to identify differences in humanitarian needs across different geographic areas, and it is intended to support strategic planning and contribute, as one of many data sources, to a more targeted and evidence-based humanitarian response.

The neighbourhoods methodology was first developed by the Care and Protection of Children (CPC) Learning Networkto gather population based data on difficult to measure or stigmatized concepts, such as gender-based violence. It is a remote KI-based methodology, based on the assumption that people reasonably know some information about other people in their immediate neighbourhoods.
REACH conducted a pilot between the 16th and 26th of June 2020, covering three states in South Sudan to assess the practicality of this methodology and analysed the results through: 1) a comparison to data from Food, Security, Nutrition Monitoring System (FSNMS) Round 25, and 2) a verification exercise directly with selected households. The results of this analysis have been used to inform the full country-wide roll-out of this methodology.