The last four months I worked in South Sudan. This is my last week in this vast country before I make my way to the next assignment. Also quite interesting, I am imagining.
What an exciting, fulfilling experience being able to exercise my Communications passions, reaching the remote counties of this country meeting all sorts of people.
The following articles are my collections from South Sudan (All have been published with my employer @PlanInternational websites, social media and internal sites), some of the stories I wrote in the middle of the night using torch light, others I wrote as I waited for the Humanitarian helicopter to come whisk me away to safety. Some I wrote back to back in excitement of the change our interventions were making in the lives of people. Several I took hours, I would throw the notes away, groan in pain of the ordeals I was trying to objectively put to paper.
Of mixed feelings
I leave South Sudan with mixed feelings, yes I came, I touched several lives, I shared priceless moments in the embrace of young girls’ whose futures seem bleak and a shadow of more pain. I also spent great moments with my colleagues from humorous drivers in the dangerous plains and the tenacious managers. All with one goal, “enabling deprived children, families and communities to meet their basic needs.”
BUT, I leave South Sudan the same, the famine that was declared has eased but the country is “not in the woods yet!”.
While there’s every reason to celebrate humanitarian efforts that have led to a reduction in the number of people living in famine conditions, this does not mean that people are no longer undergoing an extreme hunger crisis or that children are no longer suffering from malnutrition.
The famine that was declared has eased but the country is “not in the woods yet!”.
- The number of people in need of humanitarian food assistance has risen from 5.5 million to 6 million of those 45,000 people are still experiencing localized famine conditions and 1.7 million are one step below famine catastrophe
- The IPC report also shows that acute malnutrition remains a major public health emergency in several parts of the country. My biggest fear is that the lean season which comes in July will see millions of children pushed off the hunger cliff
- Conflict remains the root cause of this crisis, and until that is adequately addressed, and humanitarian organisations are given safe access to all parts of the country, the future for South Sudan’s children remain a cause for the gravest concern.
- Because of the war, people have had to flee their homes and have lost any opportunity to produce food for themselves.
- Internally displaced people are extremely vulnerable, and children particularly so – with little to eat, their bodies are less able to withstand disease, so they are at risk of death from malnutrition and diseases as much as they are from being caught in the crossfire.
- There are over 1.92 million refugees from South Sudan who have fled to neighbouring countries, taking children and their families away from their homes and putting an undue burden on host countries and aid agencies
My life’s passion-the girls. Their lives have not improved much. In disaster and emergency situations, girls are the most forgotten- their rights and needs are ignored. Adolescent girls are largely invisible in emergency situations: too young to be listened to and respected, but too old to be protected as a child might expect to be. No child should ever have to go through what these children in South Sudan have experienced.
South Sudan more than ever needs the commitment to peace and the support of the international community to help bring an end to this crisis and save millions of lives.
Enjoy the reads.