South Sudan continues to reel under a legacy of conflict and violence. Although the recently revitalised peace process promises new opportunities, the cumulative effects of years of conflict, violence and destroyed livelihoods have left more than 7 million people (about two thirds of the population) in dire need of humanitarian assistance and protection. While the situation is no longer escalating at a rapid pace, the country remains in the grip of a serious humanitarian crisis. The security situation remains volatile and more than 6 million people face severe food shortages. This man-made crisis has far-reaching consequences for neighbouring countries, where 2.2 million South Sudanese have taken refuge. This mainly refers to Uganda, Kenya and Ethiopia. The working environment is hostile, with 113 humanitarian aid workers recorded as killed in the line of duty since the outbreak of violence in Juba in December 2013.
In the year of 2018, VSF Germany recovered from the operational disruptions of the conflict and gradually ramped up its response to the unfolding humanitarian crises in the former Greater Upper Nile States (Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity).
Longer-term development programmes continued in Greater Bahr el Ghazal region (formerly Lakes, Warrap and Western Bahr el Ghazal States) with 1,354,145 individuals supported to access food through cash-based programmes, school feeding programmes, livestock healthcare services and improved agricultural production techniques. Protection services also offered socio-economic reintegration services targeting demobilised former child soldiers in Boma State, formerly Pibor County.
In the year of 2018, VSF Germany recovered from the operational disruptions of the conflict and gradually ramped up its response to the unfolding humanitarian crises in the former Greater Upper Nile States (Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity). Longer-term development programmes continued in Greater Bahr el Ghazal region (formerly Lakes, Warrap and Western Bahr el Ghazal States) with 1,354,145 individuals supported to access food through cash-based programmes, school feeding programmes, livestock healthcare services and improved agricultural production techniques. Protection services also offered socio-economic reintegration services targeting demobilised former child soldiers in Boma State, formerly Pibor County.
The protracted civil wars in South Sudan have resulted in massive recruitment of children into the ranks of the armed forces and groups across the conflict prone areas of South Sudan. The former Pibor County was particularly severely affected, leading to massive disarmament, demobilisation and reintegration efforts targeting 3,000 children by UNICEF and its partners. From 2015 to 2018, VSF Germany helped release children from the Interim Care Centre (a half-way house) before tracing their families for reunification and supported the socio-economic reintegration of a total of 1,524 children formerly associated with armed forces and armed groups. VSF Germany has further supported another 1,457 vulnerable children from the community to receive the same benefits as the released children. This is based on the Paris Principles of reintegration of released children.
Each child received two healthy female small ruminants of reproductive age, as well as small ruminant husbandry training, vaccination, treatment and linkage to veterinary care. In addition, the project has supported 700 children with 2 hens and 1 cock each, local chicken housing materials, poultry care training, vaccination, treatment and access to veterinary care. Animal ownership has improved the lives of these children who regard the ownership status as a source of prestige. This reintegration programme, therefore, is an example of how support can be culturally and economically sensitive. This has given the children hope for a brighter future as livestock owners bearing in mind that the dream of every pastoralist is animal ownership.
The animals also contribute immensely to the families‘ nutritional needs, as they are a source of eggs, milk and meat. In the course of these four years, the project contributed to improved access to food for the children and their families.
Up to 2,495 children have been supported with agricultural tools, seeds and training, and another 1,130 children and their caregivers received fishing nets, twines, hooks and training in fishing. Both the released and the vulnerable children have been empowered with basic livelihood skills focusing in the areas of training of bee keeping, bread baking, tea shops and dabo making, fish and milk preservation, as well as production of re-usable sanitary pads. The skills chosen for training were based on a contextual awareness of where there might be openings for business opportunities. Such training is often accompanied by the relevant start-up kits. 179 children have been further supported with basic business, literacy and numeracy skills to enable them to better run their various economic and vocational enterprises.
Apart from livelihood skills, VSF Germany has continued to provide vocational training to released and vulnerable children. Training focused on welding, motor vehicle mechanics, brick making, tailoring, electrical and solar installation, carpentry, masonry, photography, borehole pump maintenance as well as hair and beauty. Up to 112 children have benefitted from the training. They also received the respective start-up kits. 54 of the released children were also trained as community animal health workers (CAHWs) with support from both UNICEF and FAO. These children have since been assimilated into the wider VSF Germany network of community animal health workers and presently earn a livelihood from the vaccination and cost recovery treatment of animals programme.
Nyanpath is a 12-year-old girl, residing in Cueibet County in Gok State. As a girl in her community, Nyanpath shares the daily household chores such as washing utensils and clothes before taking the kilometre long walk to school. With 7 other siblings, she makes sure she takes the additional responsibility of walking the younger siblings to school as well as watching over them throughout the day. For Nyanpath, the school-feeding programme goes beyond providing her immediate nutritional needs.
I joined the school last year as a pre-schooler. After excelling by coming 3rd in my class, I graduated into Primary 1. For many years I used to watch my neighbours going to school but I couldn’t because my father did not think it was important for me as a girl to go to school. He would say I should go to the cattle camp, support our family members there, cook for them and help in milking the cows. When I turned 11 last year, my mother went to Wau, I don’t know what she saw there but she came back and said women were working there and becoming something in life. She began pestering my father until he surrendered finally agreed to let me attend school. She also told him that they were providing food at the school. I think this also helped him in allowing not only me to attend school but my other four siblings as well. School feeding means that at least those in the family who attend school will get more than one meal each day. With five of us children in school now, this has meant that there is extra food for my three siblings who remain at home, allowing them to also get an extra meal each day. I am very happy to be able to attend school and the food they give me is enough for me. I hope that I can continue working very hard and make something of my life. My only worry now is that because I started school late, I may not reach Primary 7 before I am married. But even if I am married, I will take my mother’s example and ask my husband if he allows me to complete my schooling. I would really like to thank VSF Germany for this one daily meal that has changed my life and the lives of my family.
The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development of the United Nations calls for urgent action to end poverty and other deprivations. At its heart are the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Our Project in the Spotlight contributes to achieving the following SDGs:
VSF Germany supports healthcare management of livestock to improve production and productivity. Livestock provides labour and income, builds social capital, provides resources to maintain and improve livelihoods, increases financial capital, serves as a liquid assets and savings account and is a buffer against sudden disasters. Over decades, the involvement of VSF Germany in eradicating rinderpest and in the on-going peste des petits ruminants (PPR) eradication campaign has contributed significantly towards protecting livestock assets of the rural poor in Africa.
Livestock increases direct consumption of healthy and nutritious animal-source foods (ASFs) at household level. A stronger and healthier national livestock sector makes ASF more affordable to everyone.
Higher economic productivity of livestock requires diversification, up-scaling of technology and higher value generation. 1.4 billion people are employed in livestock value chains. Sustained efforts by VSF Germany in 2018 to improve animal health service delivery and control of epidemics in the arid and semi-arid lands where livestock are the mainstay of the economy directly support the on-going economic growth and transformation of developing countries.
Silvester is a Kenyan Veterinarian with more than 20 years of experience in project design and management, training and evaluation. In South Sudan, he has a reputation for his comprehensive knowledge on history and livestock among the international community.
He holds a Bachelor of Veterinary Medicine and has completed post-graduate professional training in Community Development, Gender and Development and Financial Management. His areas of specialisation include social research for programme design and evaluation, intervention management and training.
Silvester joined VSF Germany, South Sudan Programme in 2015 in the capacity of Country Programme Manager, before being appointed Country Director South Sudan in 2017. He previously worked for Save the Children UK, Agency for Co-operation in Research & Development (ACORD), VSF Suisse in South Sudan and Government of Kenya and RedR-IHE Eastern Africa in Kenya respectively. Silvester has also had a stint as an independent consultant with assignments covering Kenya, South Sudan, and Somalia for several international humanitarian and development organisations.
In his current function as Country Director South Sudan, Silvester’s main responsibilities include programme management and administration – control, direction, supervision and coordination. He derives his motivation from innovative programme development with some level of independent funding. Signing the new grant awards in 2018 was a remarkable moment for him. He is hoping that a consolidated VSF Germany strategy can improve the organisation‘s success even further.