In 2011, the people of South Sudan voted to become an independent nation. The country arrived to independence after enduring decades of conflict that left communities to face extreme poverty, violence, hunger and disease. Millions were forced from their homes. Since independence, the challenge for South Sudan and the international community is moving from crisis to recovery. Many challenges remain, and partnerships are crucial to getting help to those who need it most.
In December of 2013, conflict erupted again in South Sudan, forcing more than 1 million people from their homes. The violence has exacerbated a food crisis in the country, threatening thousands to experience famine and placing women and children, especially the girl child, at risk of egregious forms of gender based violence (GBV) such as early forced marriage and rape as a weapon of war. Since 2014, our GBV/Protection team in South Sudan has been providing essential lifesaving health and GBV interventions to those who have remained in the country.
From July 2013 onwards, the “county based service delivery model” has become the cornerstone of ARC’s technical health approach, supporting and strengthening health service delivery and health systems by building the capacity of the County Health Departments in four counties. ARC works hand in hand with local providers to implement primary health care activities in health facilities throughout Kajo Keji, Magwi, Kapoeta South and Kapoeta East.
ARC implements Secondary health care in Kapoeta County hospital with an aim of increasing access, utilization, and quality of CEmONC and other hospital services critical for CEmONC; increasing community awareness and demand for emergency obstetric care and other lifesaving hospital services and; strengthening stewardship of the CHD & SMOH with regards to the management and administration of the county level.
ARC also supports tertiary health care in Aweil State Hospital by to improve access, utilization, and quality of health services at this secondary level facility – the only hospital in the State. ARC is also focusing on strengthening the Hospital’s role in the referral chain between communities, primary care facilities, and secondary and tertiary care centers. Strengthening management, leadership, and administrative capacity at Aweil State Hospital forms the third major component of ARC’s activities in Aweil.
ARC has been a lead actor in implementing gender-based violence prevention and response projects in South Sudan. ARC’s South Sudan GBV/Protection program supports women, girls, men and boys to identify and address the GBV and protection issues that are most harmful in the lives of South Sudanese—and then we work together to find solutions to reduce incidences of violence.
The most egregious form of violence against women in South Sudan is the lack of opportunities that women and girls experience. Entrenched social norms and harmful practices such as early marriage often leads to lack of educational attainment and lack of vocational skills to secure employment or start a small business as well as subverting women’s decision-making power. Thus women and girls do not have a voice on issues that most intimately impact their lives such as family planning, protection from HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections and use of household, family and communal resources.
Our GBV/Protection team provides survivors of violence, internally displaced persons, returnees and other vulnerable persons support through counseling, access to justice, entrepreneurial skill building and social empowerment. Our team uses a participatory approach to provide awareness on GBV, sexual and reproductive health rights, personal autonomy and physical integrity by building the capacity of institutional actors and community members to prevent and respond to GBV and other protection issues. ARC believes that equipping communities’ with the information, knowledge and tools necessary to address the root causes of gender inequality and inequity is the most sustainable path to behavior change.
During 2014, the GBV/Protection program implemented the “Fostering resilience and protective environments to improve health and wellbeing in vulnerable communities within Eastern Equatoria (EE), Northern Bahr el Ghazal (NBeG), and Warrap States.” ARC improved the physical, emotional and social well-being of affected internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and host community members through comprehensive community gender based violence (GBV) prevention and response interventions. ARC increased GBV awareness and capacity building of government and community actors and supported the strengthening of referral pathways for IDPs, returnees and host community members to improve access to essential life-saving services for treatment and care of GBV survivors. ARC also initiated its women economic empowerment initiative through its work with 18 women’s groups in EE, NBeG and Warrap states. ARC supported 4,276 GBV survivors, women’s group members, community activists, protection monitors, peer educators, chiefs and youth, with 2,343 being internally displaced persons (IDPs). ARC trained 257 frontline service providers representing health, psychosocial support and justice sectors. ARC also trained 482 women and 481 men (inclusive of local chiefs) with a participatory community based approach on such topics as Caring for Survivors, GBV and Human Rights Fundamentals and South Sudanese Customary and Statutory laws. ARC awareness raising sessions reached 41,578 women, girls, men and boys and radio messaging reached approximately 727,760 South Sudanese throughout EE, NBeG and Warrap.
In 2015, the GBV/Protection program has commenced an women’s economic empowerment initiative that will build on its prior successes working with women in South Sudan by providing Women’s Entrepreneur Skill Training to the women it has been working with in Northern Bahr el Ghazal. ARC is also providing sensitization and awareness sessions to participants’ intimate partners as well as male community leaders in order that they understand the important role women can have in the financial health of their families and communities.
ARC’s work with the CORE Group’s Polio Project, in conjunction with the local County Health Department, has provided routine immunizations to 15,561 children in Kajo Keji, Kapoeta South, Magwi, and Kapoeta East Counties.
In Kapoeta East, Kapoeta South and Magwi, ARC collaborates with the local County Health Department to administer health care services, ranging from obstetric and pediatric care to screenings and vaccination, to 467,379 individuals in 60 different facilities.
ARC's work is ongoing in the renovation of the Kapoeta Civil Hospital in Kapoeta South county in an effort to improve maternal and child health outcomes throughout the region. The work plan calls for infrastructure improvements, capacity building with local healthcare professionals, and improvements to referral systems, staffing, management, and supply chains.