In South Sudan, the cumulative effect of years of conflict, violence and destroyed livelihoods has led to a humanitarian emergency of high proportions. The recently revitalized peace process promises to offer new opportunities in the coming years for South Sudan’s women, men and children. The launch of the National Development Strategy 2018-2021 with the overall objective of consolidating peace and stabilizing the economy echoes the peace optimism.
The Nutrition Cluster currently comprises 64 active partners from Government, UN agencies, Donors and national and international Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) supporting the implementation of nutrition responses on the ground. Detection and treatment of children and women affected by severe or moderate acute malnutrition is carried out through slightly over 1000 nutrition sites established across the country. Nearly 860,000 children under the age of five years and 600,000 pregnant and lactating women were expected to be affected by acute malnutrition in 2019.
Violence, abuse and exploitation remain the greatest protection risks to women and girls, reflecting continued gender inequalities exacerbated by the prolonged crisis in South Sudan. Furthermore, widespread Gender Based Violence (GBV) constitutes a significant impediment to women’s participation in recovery and development. In the first half of 2018, some 2,300 cases of GBV were reported to service providers,71 a 72 per cent increase in reporting of GBV compared to same period in 2017 (South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan, 2019). During the same period, 97 per cent of reported cases in South Sudan affected women and girls, and 21 per cent of survivors who accessed services were children, of which 79 per cent were adolescent girls, consistent with previous years.
Nutrition Custer partners have made efforts over time to ensure integration of gender in nutrition programming and GBV mitigation. Gender analysis reports by Action Against Hunger and CARE take cognizance of some of the best practices by partners which include; increased focus on recruitment of female staff at nutrition sites, increased understanding and staff capacity on gender issues, increased use of the gender marker in gauging quality of proposals, recruiting men to act as agents of change at community level, increased recruitment of women into Infant and Young Child Nutrition (MIYCN) positions within programing, changing attitudes and practices among men (e.g. men accompanying pregnant and lactating women to health facilities, men participating in World Breastfeeding Week activities), training Nutrition partners on GBV referral pathways, organizations making increasing use of gender/GBV specialist in their programming, and the use of mother-to-mother support groups in nutrition programming.
Nutrition sites present an opportunity and platform for GBV risk mitigation. In 2019 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP), the Nutrition Cluster committed to roll out Safety Audits in nutrition sites and strengthen partners’ capacity to facilitate referrals of GBV survivors to response services.
The main objectives for Safety Audit rollout process were:
· Understand safety and security for women and girls in and around nutrition facilities.
· Identify availability and access to GBV and other services in facilities’ catchment areas
· Identify GBV and security risks in order to mitigate risks and for use in future program design and planning
· To provide learning on emerging GBV concerns linked to Nutrition service delivery and opportunities for GBV risk mitigation in nutrition programming.