Bidi Bidi settlement was established in September 2016 to host the rapid influx of South Sudanese refugees, primarily arriving from the Equatoria region. The settlement population increased rapidly to over 280,000 people, making it one of the largest refugee settlements in the world. As of December 2016, Bidi Bidi reached maximum capacity and stopped accepting new arrivals.
Gaps & Challenges
There are only few clean water sources available to the population in Bidi Bidi. Long distance to the water points, long waiting lines and high congestion are issues facing refugees collecting water. The few existing boreholes are of poor quality, nationals reported repairs of the boreholes are continuously delayed. The water supplied is insufficient, which is exacerbated by the dry season. As sources dry up, both refugees and nationals are forced to collect water from unprotected water sources. Furthermore, the poor latrine coverage in the settlement has led to increased open defecation, which further deteriorates the hygiene and sanitation in Bidi Bidi.
Access to quality education is limited for both refugees and the surrounding host community. Schools are few with insufficient classrooms and insufficient teachers leading to low teacher per student ratios. This was reported to severely inhibit the students’ learning environment. This is further deteriorated by the lack of school materials and lack of training for teachers. Moreover, the absence of vocational training institutions limits the opportunities available for students unable to access secondary school or those unable to access tertiary education. This significantly reduces their chances to access livelihoods opportunities in the future.
Refugees were provided with non-food items (NFIs), such as saucepans, solar lamps, mattresses and jerry cans, upon arrival to the settlement. These have, however not been re-distributed since the refugees' arrival, which therefore means they are for the most part worn out or broken. This forces refugees to share with their neighbors and take it in turns to cook. The lack of access to functional NFIs reduces the living standards of refugees.
Both refugees and nationals face important challenges in accessing livelihoods opportunities. Refugees, in particular, struggle to access land for agricultural activities. The land provided to them upon arrival is insufficient to cultivate crops and the cost of hiring land is expensive. Moreover, those that do have access to land struggle to harvest their crops as the land is infertile and they have not received improved seeds adapted to the harsh climate conditions. Nationals highlighted they also struggle to access livelihoods training opportunities preventing them from acquiring the skills needed for employment.
Child protection was reported as a significant gap in Bidi Bidi settlement. Refugees highlighted child-headed households are not provided with the appropriate services they need. Moreover, children, particularly young girls, are often sent to collect firewood for their families far from the settlement, which has led to cases of rape and sexual and gender based violence (SGBV). Additionally, theft was reported to be an issue in the settlement where food items are often stolen at night.