In the years since the independence of South Sudan in 2011, the country has faced an acute humanitarian crisis affecting most areas of the country. Over the past few years, the cumulative effects of war in conjunction with an extremely poor infrastructure have caused the economy to collapse, reduced crop production and livelihoods, caused underdevelopment, displacement, and weakened communities' abilities to cope with protracted crises and sudden shocks. Following the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan (R-ARCSS) in November 2018, an overall improvement of the political and economic situation has been observed, which has resulted in improved access for humanitarian actors over the past 12 months. A transitional government has been in place as of 22 February 2020. In 2020, nearly 7.5 million people are still in need of some type of humanitarian assistance or protection. Of the 78 counties in South Sudan, 45 are in severe need and 33 are in extreme need (OCHA South Sudan, 2019).
Logistics Gaps and Bottlenecks
South Sudan remains one of the most logistically challenging countries in which to operate. Existing road networks are among the most underdeveloped in the world, although the United Nations and private sector actors have made progress in improving road movement in the past year, enabled by an improved security situation. Approximately 60 per cent of the limited road network becomes inaccessible during the long rainy season, especially affecting Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States (OCHA South Sudan, 2019). While the access situation improved in most parts of the country, insecurity and bureaucratic access impediments remain a challenge for the humanitarian community. The following logistics gaps have been identified:
• Need for consolidated logistics coordination and information sharing to reduce duplication of efforts and ensure safe and efficient logistics operations.
• Physical constraints impeding access to a number of deep field locations which are only reachable by air, especially during the rainy season.
• Lack of commercial road and river transporters outside of the capital city generating challenges for organisations to deliver life-saving humanitarian items to populations in dire need.
• Insecurity along major supply routes, making movement of humanitarian cargo challenging for organisations to undertake on their own.
• Lack of common storage space in deep field locations, which makes pre-positioning cargo by road during the dry season difficult.
• Need for increased capacity amongst local staff for a more efficient humanitarian response.