South Sudan

A Decade of Rapid Response to emergency WASH and ES-NFI needs in South Sudan

News and Press Release
Originally published
© Maciej Moskwa / TESTIGO Documentary, 2015

In just over 20 years, Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) has become one of the largest and most active non-profit humanitarian organizations based in Central Europe. Headquartered in Warsaw, PAH works around the world to reduce suffering caused by various humanitarian crises. Rooted in human rights and driven by the guiding principles of humanitarianism, impartiality, and neutrality, Polish Humanitarian Action strives to alleviate the suffering of vulnerable communities during all phases of a humanitarian crisis. PAH implements comprehensive WASH, FSL, NFI, Education, Shelter and Protection solutions in difficult to reach areas around the world.

In 2006, Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) drilled its first borehole in South Sudan. In the following years, PAH has been systematically developing its activities and implementing emergency programmes in South Sudan. Ten years later, PAH has a successful track record with over 700 boreholes drilled or rehabilitated and help provided to more than 1,3 million people. The organization owes its success to its energetic and professional team with valuable national employees who are able to assist communities in remote locations, in a timely and qualitative manner.

The beginnings of PAH’s presence in South Sudan

PAH’s presence in South Sudan has its origins in Sudan. After the crisis in Darfur in 2003, PAH had been raising money to support the most vulnerable IDPs. In cooperation with one of the local organizations, PAH bought and equipped medical tents in ZamZam refugee camp. PAH decided to establish its presence in the country and help to meet the overwhelming needs. It was in 2004 in Khartoum when the founder of PAH - Janina Ochojska met South Sudanese refugees for the first time. The stories of people attracted her attention to the southern part of Sudan, which in that time was still fighting for its independence. Since the beginning, PAH has been fulfilling its mission by empowering communities in crises to regain responsibility for their own future and become self-reliant. PAH intends to shape humanitarian attitudes among the public and creates a modern culture of mutual help.

Due to the high influx of IDPs and returnees, PAH for its initial base had chosen Bor in Jonglei State. In 2006-2008, PAH implemented a number of WASH and FSL projects. Working closely with communities, PAH started from drilling boreholes in Bor County. In the second half of 2008 PAH’s activities were expanded to Uror County, with the opening of a sub office in Yuai, followed by operational expansion into neighboring Nyirol and Akobo Counties. With support of FAO, Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Poland, UNICEF, private companies and polish society, PAH continued to develop water infrastructure but also was providing seeds and tools for agricultural extension and educational programmes for returnees, IDPs and vulnerable families in Jonglei State. PAH created a Vocational Training Centre in the village of Malek in Bor. Courses were held from reading and writing to series of workshops on the poultry and egg production, tailoring, baking and entrepreneurship. Since the beginning PAH projects have been incorporating strong capacity-building and community participation elements to enhance sustainability and also ensure the interventions are needs-based.

Emergency Preparedness & Response (EP&R)

To answer to the needs of communities in Jonglei State, since 2010 PAH has started to develop its Emergency Preparedness & Response (EP&R) capacity in WASH and ES-NFI sectors. The same year, PAH started its cooperation with DG ECHO – European Union Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection and has run its first ECHO funded WASH emergency and response project.

Soon after the creation of the WASH Cluster, in 2011 PAH has become the WASH State Cluster Focal Point for Jonglei, and since then has been coordinating all WASH partners in the state in order to ensure effective cooperation and information sharing of intervention areas and activities to identify gaps for high quality, timely and effective emergency assistance to vulnerable communities.

By 2012, the PAH Emergency Preparedness & Response team was fully constituted with WASH Technicians and Hygiene and Sanitation Officers to respond to dire humanitarian needs in WASH and ES-NFI sectors in hard to reach areas all around South Sudan.

After the crisis in December 2013 the organization had relocated its main office from Bor to Juba and expanded the area of activity from the Jonglei state to Central and Eastern Equatoria and Unity and Upper Nile, having been implementing WASH EP&R activities under ECHO, CHF (Common Humanitarian Fund), RRF (Rapid Respond Fund) and other non-institutional donors’ funding.

Apart from EP&R activities, PAH with support of Peace Wings Japan and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) conducted WASH related developmental projects in Bor county (Jonglei), Morobo (Central Equatoria) and Magwi (Eastern Equatoria) repairing and rehabilitating boreholes, building capacities of local hand pump mechanics and local authorities, constructing institutional latrines and conducting hygiene promotion activities. Since November 2014, PAH had been implementing resilience activities in chronically vulnerable communities by increasing timely and equitable access to safe water in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA).

To meet the needs and reach more beneficiaries, PAH has also been conducting ES-NFI EP&R activities in Jonglei, Unity and Central Equatoria State under the CHF funded programme. Since 2015 PAH has been increasing activities in schools, focusing on providing WASH facilities and training school's hygiene clubs, teachers and girls on menstrual hygiene.

PAH today - current activities

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene Programming

Under an ECHO funded project in 2016, PAH's emergency response team has been constructing and rehabilitating water and sanitation infrastructure, distributing hygiene kits, promoting proper hygiene techniques to mostly women and children and building the capacity and resilience of community institutions for self-management of WASH infrastructure.

In Bor County, PAH has been working with 10 schools providing basic hygiene education and distributing soap as part of the cholera preparedness process. 5503 households in cholera hotspot villages of Malou, Lakyak and Langbar were given soap together with hygiene promotion messages to prevent the outbreak of cholera. PAH also constructed shower rooms and latrines, as well as the installation of water taps at the Cholera Treatment Centre (CTC) in Bor. A standard waste management pit was also developed to reduce further possibilities of contamination at the CTC. The cholera preparedness in Bor is considered as a great success since there was no cholera cases that broke out in Bor after the July 2016 conflict in South Sudan. In addition to cholera preparedness, PAH took part in celebrating the Menstrual Hygiene Day on 28 May 2016 in 2 primary schools in Bor and conducted an educational campaign together with Afripads distribution.

In Buaw, Koch County, Unity State, PAH has been focusing on building local capacity as part of the resilience strategy. Community Hygiene Promoters (CHPs) were trained by our PAH team. Additionally, PAH ERT has so far rehabilitated 8 boreholes. PAH WASH technical team has trained local pump mechanics and together they have been working on restoring the water yard. However, due to the current conflicts in Buaw, rehabilitating the water yard has been postponed until the situation normalizes.

The recent crisis in July has caused thousands of people to leave their homes in search of secure places to stay for their families. Shortage of supplies in the markets, the rise of prices, and limited access of NGOs to the most vulnerable communities has created great humanitarian crisis in this part of the world. The outbreak of cholera coursed many people to struggle. Until end of September, the PAH Emergency Response Team has been assisting the affected people to access main services, including safe water for drinking and cooking, hygiene facilities and hygiene messages enabling communities to build resilience in the face of new crises. Two IDP camps were assisted during the response (Mangateen camp 1 and camp 2), as well as parts of Juba, including Newsite, Kworjik, and nearby villages in Gondokoro Island.

During cholera preparedness, PAH conducted hygiene promotion activities including drama at Redeemer Nursery and Primary School, which was made into a video for hygiene promotion. 20 pupils from the school’s hygiene club were encouraged to promote hygiene among their peers. PAH will use the video for school hygiene club training all over South Sudan. PAH also managed to rehabilitate 11 boreholes in the areas of Mangateen, Kworjik and Newsite in Juba and also engaging community hygiene promoters (CHPs) for hygiene promotion at household level.

PAH’s interventions in Nimule town, Eastern Equatoria State, mainly focused on supporting the provision of clean, safe and sufficient water to the population of Nimule, as well as supporting local partners’ hygiene promotion by providing assistance in areas where they had gaps. The PAH ERT team was engaged mainly in borehole rehabilitations, constructing hand-washing stations, conducting hygiene promotion campaigns around the city in addition to mass media campaigns, training food vendors in hygienic food handling, and implementing a solid waste management system in Nimule town.

PAH has also constructed new latrines in Old Fangak town after the old ones were decommissioned in March 2016. Due to flooding in the area, there was a big risk of a cholera outbreak. PAH has constructed 50 latrine blocks of two stances, totaling 100 latrines. In addition to supporting the sanitation activities, PAH also supported local capacity in decreasing the risk of cholera and water contamination due to flooding by providing PUR, Aquatabs and soap. Additional focus was put on hygiene promotion regarding using latrines and hand washing.

In 2017, PAH will continue its life-saving activities in Kurwai, Jonglei State, and has already started preparing for responses to IDPs in Jikmir and Manding, displaced due to the conflict in Upper Nile State.

Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Items programming

Due to the ability of the PAH S/NFI ERT team to deploy and respond to emergencies within a short time, PAH is ranked Priority 1 by cluster partners for outstanding coordinated activities and having a dynamic team. PAH is a frontline partner in S/NFI cluster and covers the gaps in the areas of intervention.

In February 2016, the team received a 6 months funding from UNDP through the CHF 2016 1st round standard allocation. Additionally, PAH also received another allocation for the CHF 2nd round standard allocation project for 2016 which is also 6 months in length and running until March 2017. This has ensured the S/NFI programme is expanded as the team has been increased.

Since March 2015, the S/NFI programme implemented more than 17 interventions serving over 40,000 households and 100,000 individuals in IDP and host community areas with emergency shelter and NFI kits. The team managed to intervene in hard-to-reach areas and remote locations. Most of the interventions were implemented together with partner NNGOs and INGOs on the ground in these locations.

PAH completed a distribution in Gumuruk in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area, carried out a needs assessment in Mayom in Unity State and participated in an OCHA-led IRNA in Yei. Recently, PAH has also completed its interventions in Mayendit and Nimule.

PAH successfully organized a technical emergency shelter and NFI training for the team and partner NGOs in the S/NFI sector, facilitated by consultant and supported by the national cluster team in June 2016.

In appreciation of their high quality work and cooperation, PAH was chosen as a member of the Strategic Advisory Group of Shelter and NFI Cluster for the period of November 2016 – March 2017.

Coordinating with partners at state and national levels

PAH South Sudan Mission has been an active member of the WASH and S/NFI clusters contributing to emergency WASH and S/NFI programming at the national level. For WASH, PAH has also been actively participating in National Cholera Task Force meetings and leading the coordination of WASH partners in Jonglei State as the State Focal Point (SFP). This has led to PAH being a partner of choice for the WASH and S/NFI cluster where there is need for rapid deployment of teams to respond to emergencies or for IRNA assessments. PAH ERT team shares all assessments (Initial Rapid Needs Assessments, Baseline Assessments and Post-Distribution Monitoring) and also programme updates with WASH and S/NFI clusters at the national level regularly. Additionally, to broaden the scope of activities PAH has became a partner in FSL and Education cluster.

Monitoring, evaluating and learning from our work

Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH) South Sudan Mission is known for its quality aid. PAH South Sudan created and developed its Monitoring and Evaluation capacity with the aim of improving the relevance, efficiency, effectiveness, sustainability, impact and replicability of services provided.

In this regard, PAH developed organizational quality standards that conform to the international standards that guide the provision of services to the target group. To ensure that PAH interventions or services answer to the needs of the targeted population, PAH Monitoring and Evaluation team in South Sudan is committed to continuous improving of and learning from PAH activities through feed-forward looping of programme activities where lessons from current programs feed into design of new programmes.

New Programme Development: Broadening the programme portfolio and focal areas

Additionally, PAH will develop new static WASH and FSL programmes to meet the emergency and chronic WASH and FSL needs in these locations, and implement recovery projects in other locations where emergency response was/is/will be conducted. PAH will always work with the WASH cluster, EP&R partners and other partners on the ground to identify locations with emergency needs where there are no WASH partners, or where WASH partners have insufficient emergency response capacity to respond with EP&R activities. PAH will also continue to build the capacity of local community institutions (water departments, pump mechanics, Water Users Committees and community hygiene promoters) for proper maintenance of water and sanitation facilities. In areas where water supply, sanitation and hygiene practices are still poor after the emergency response, PAH will plan to link relief, rehabilitation and development and ensure sustainability of implemented solutions, particularly through capacity building, involving all community members into the process, and increasing the WASH awareness in schools.

It is planned that joint/multi-sectoral assessments of needs will be done in order to ensure that the vulnerable communities receive a multi-sectoral response, not just WASH or ES-NFIs. From lessons PAH learnt linking relief, rehabilitation and development in some locations in Jonglei State, PAH will deepen its hygiene promotion and sanitation activities by staying a bit longer in the intervention area to ensure behavior change is realized to avoid communities perpetuating detrimental attitudes and practices.

Going forward, PAH Mission in South Sudan plans to broaden the program focal areas beyond the current Emergency Preparedness and Response activities in WASH and Shelter/NFI to include static programmes in WASH, food security, education, nutrition and natural resources management. In this regard, PAH will focus on locations where the organization has been operating for long and has offices like Bor and Uror (Yuai). In order to break into the new focal areas, the Mission in South Sudan will look at partnering with both national and international NGOs with experience in those new areas, during which time PAH with be enhancing its internal capacity to implement food security, education, nutrition and natural resources programmes. In expanding the programme portfolio, PAH in South Sudan will still maintain or expand its EP&R programming.