In December 2013, political conflict erupted in South Sudan’s capital of Juba, which later spread throughout the country including Leer County. This particular region endured numerous clashes between opposing forces and armed groups attacked civilians destroying most of the homes and buildings in the area. This caused the majority of the population to flee. Due to the recent signing of the peace agreement in September 2018 which has ushered in a relatively stable period, people began returning to their places of origin from Juba, Bentiu, Malakal, Khartoum (Sudan), Leer and the swamps around Leer County.
In September 2018, DRC released a protection report highlighting multi-sectorial needs in Adok to include ES/NFI. Additionally, Coalition for Humanity and Nile Hope circulated multi-sectorial assessment reports in October and November respectively, highlighting the needs for ES/NFI assistance as well. And in December 2018, the ES/NFI State Focal Point for former Unity State contacted Medair and requested that they conduct a needs assessment. The Medair ES/NFI team carried out an analysis from 5 to 11 January 2019 in Adok and determined that the affected population lacked plastic sheets, kitchen sets, and mosquito nets. In total, the team concluded that 1,218 HH (4,341 individuals) were in need of NFIs based on an existing list made by the ROSS Deputy Secretary and the payam authorities. This was later verified by the Nile Hope (NH) and UNIDOR.
The distribution was held from 29 to 30 January 2019 at the UNIDOR compound based on a decision made in consultation with UNIDOR and local authorities (Adok Executive Director, community leaders, and ROSS). The Medair NFI team also proposed the UNIDOR compound as the best place for both storage and distribution of the NFI items due to its available space and accessible location. The beneficiaries were informed prior to the distribution through the local authorities and community mobilisers who used megaphones to disseminate the information on distribution items (quantity and type), dates, venue, and time.
Additionally, these items were distributed alongside WASH kits from Nile Hope at an adjacent location to facilitate a coordinated distribution response. The team also worked with the national NGO Mobile Humanitarian Agency (MHA) which focused on protection issues during the distribution by identifying the most vulnerable among the beneficiaries, preventing children from being allowed to come to the distribution point, and helping create an orderly environment amongst the beneficiaries especially if they became disruptive. MHA also ensured that protection was implemented by considering the most vulnerable had priority access which included the elderly, pregnant and lactating women, and the disabled. Separate lines were established by gender and then a third line was created for those most vulnerable. Demonstrations on the correct use of the items were conducted before the distribution started. The beneficiaries were also informed about the distribution site which was divided into five zones; the registration area, the token verification zone, waiting area, the distribution point, and the complaint desk. Order was well maintained through hired crowd controllers and the community leaders were also available to attend to any issues that arose during the distribution.
AAP mainstreaming was implemented through the use of locally hired crowd controllers to maintain the lines and enumerators to manage the complaint desk. Local community leaders and ROSS representatives were also on hand to verify household identifications and ensure the distribution ran smoothly. Additionally, the NFI distributed was in line with the beneficiaries’ stated needs gleaned from the assessment questionnaires, Focus Group Discussions (FGDs), and Key Informant Interviews (KIIs). And those most vulnerable were placed in a separate line to receive priority assistance. Exit interviews were also conducted to collect beneficiary feedback, assess the quality of service, and identify what went well and what needed improvement.
There were a few challenges. Due to a miscommunication, local authorities were not properly informed before the team’s arrival on ground (only the Executive Director was) which created some tension between them and Medair. Authorities and chiefs also insisted on switching the enumerators and other casual labourers between the assessment and distribution which created a lack of knowledge management and work continuity. Going forward, Medair needs to politely insist that the same set of workers will be used throughout the response for ease and efficiency. And apart from this, returnees were continuing to arrive during the distribution but could not be accommodated at that time.