In South Sudan, the cumulative effects of years of conflict, violence and destroyed livelihoods has led to a humanitarian emergency of high proportions. The launch of the National Development Strategy 2018-2021 with the overall objective of consolidating peace and stabilizing the economy echoes the peace optimism including new opportunities “Improved food security and livelihoods, and revitalize the national economy” in the coming years for South Sudan’s women, men and children. Nutrition, gender inequality and gender-based violence (GBV) are often interrelated. Evidence shows that higher levels of both acute and chronic malnutrition for women and girls is directly related to gender-inequitable access to nutritious foods, quality health care, and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services. Gender-inequitable access to food and services is a form a GBV that can, in turn, contribute to other forms of GBV.
According to UNICEF South Sudan GBV Briefing Note- Dec 2019, GBV is one of the most critical threats to the protection and wellbeing of women and children in South Sudan. GBV was already rife prior to the conflict, and is now nearing epidemic proportions. studies indicate that some 65 per cent of women and girls have experienced physical and/or sexual violence in their lifetime, and some 51 per cent have suffered intimate partner violence (IPV). Some 33 per cent of women have experienced sexual violence from a non-partner, primarily during attacks or raids.
The majority of girls and women experience sexual violence for the first time under the age of 18. Children comprise around 25 per cent of all reported cases of conflict-related sexual violence, though there are concerns numbers may be much higher.
Nutrition cluster partners have made efforts over time to ensure integration of GBV in nutrition programming. 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 IYCF/ MIYCN positions within programing, changing attitudes and practices among men (e.g. men accompanying PLWs 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.
The Nutrition Cluster comprises 64 active partners from Government, UN agencies, Donors and National and International Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) supporting the implementation nutrition specific and nutrition sensitive interventions. In South Sudan, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition stands at 16.2 per cent among under-five children, above the WHO emergency threshold1 . This translates into an expected 1,770,861 people in need of treatment for acute malnutrition in 2020; more than 292,000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition; over 1 million children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition and about 470,000 pregnant and lactating women suffering from acute malnutrition.
In 2020 HRP, the nutrition cluster committed to roll out safety audits and strengthen partners’ capacity to facilitate referrals of GBV survivors to response services. The Nutrition Cluster continues to focus on GBV risk mitigation and prevention efforts across its programmes through capacity building and implementing action plans. The Nutrition cluster adapted GBV risk mitigation as the criteria for project selection in the 2020 Humanitarian Response Plan (HRP)and funds allocation in 2020 South Sudan Humanitarian Funds (SSHF).
To advocate for the mainstreaming of Gender Based Violence (GBV) Risk Prevention and Mitigation in Nutrition Cluster programmes in a multifaceted approach and throughout the Humanitarian Programme Cycle (HPC).
To build the capacity of the Nutrition Cluster Partners in mainstreaming GBV in their various responses
Nutrition coordination mechanisms
Nutrition actors (staff and leadership): NGOs, community-based organizations (including National Red Cross/ Red Crescent Societies), INGOs and United Nations agencies
Local committees and community-based groups (e.g. groups for women, adolescents/youth, older persons, etc.) related to nutrition
Other nutrition stakeholders, including national and local governments, community leaders and civil society groups