1. Executive Summary
South Sudan suffers from decades of conflict and neglect. Despite a 2015 peace agreement, the current conflict has expanded across the country in recent months, culminating in an outbreak of hostilities in the capital Juba on 8 July 2016. Renewed fighting coupled with an economic crisis and immense protection needs are deepening the humanitarian crisis and causing it to manifest in areas that have previously enjoyed relative stability. The escalation of tensions in Central and Eastern Equatoria States through July continues to drive large scale population movement and economic inflation that impinge on the capacity of families and communities to access sufficient food and shelter. Early estimates suggested that between 40,000 and 70,000 people had been displaced by initial waves of violence in Eastern Equatoria State. Nonetheless, humanitarian agencies have been without verified information on the specific factors of concern to communities and the extent of the impact of the conflict on their protection, food security, health, nutrition, education, and access to shelter and materials. Following their rapid assessment of four counties in Eastern Equatoria, CARE International identified gaps that necessitated further assessment, which corresponded with Save the Children’s (SCI) interest in undertaking an assessment of child protection and nutrition needs in and around key urban centres experiencing population movement in the state. With a view to consolidating resources and generating a comprehensive understanding of humanitarian needs, partners with an operational presence or interest in Eastern Equatoria came together to plan a multi-sector, multi-location assessment to inform an overarching response strategy.
The first phase of the multi-sector assessment took place in several locations in Torit County from 17-23 August and revealed far-reaching needs among both displaced and host communities, all of which derive from the compound pressures of conflict on existing food insecurity. Access to food represented a primary concern for people across urban, peri-urban and rural locations, as well as a driver of increased population movement to rural areas (where small-scale agriculture is still able to be undertaken), and movement across South Sudan’s borders into neighbouring countries. Peri-urban and urban populations have been significantly affected by recent violence, which has manifested in direct violations including sexual violence, harassment, use of community facilities by armed elements, and looting, and indirectly in death during flight, family separation, restricted movement and widespread psychosocial stress. Consequently, previously well-functioning services have had a constrained capacity to deliver key services, including health, nutrition, WASH and education, all of which have been most inhibited by insecurity preventing movement and blocking the transportation of supplies. Most displaced people (IDPs) within Torit are reportedly being hosted by relatives, the household size for whom has often doubled. IDPs fled with little or no assets and have extremely limited livelihood opportunities available to them, placing additional pressure on their hosts, particularly in terms of food and shelter/Non-Food Items (NFIs).
While surveyed communities in Torit demonstrated high levels of resilience and practical coping mechanisms, the scale of humanitarian need in the area is assessed as high, relating predominantly to an urgent need for food assistance, distribution of quick-yield agricultural inputs, protection monitoring and support systems, and safe humanitarian access to enable delivery of medical and nutrition supplies. While government agencies and non-government organisations (NGOs) show strong capacity in Torit, all are constrained by resource limitations. This assessment indicates that a small number of (predominantly) cost-efficient, community-based interventions delivered by partners with an existing operational presence would serve to alleviate suffering, build resilience and respond to urgent needs for both displaced and host communities in Torit.