Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan

by IsraAID
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Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan
Preventing Gender-based Violence in South Sudan

All Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) have the right to life and adequate protection from violence, exploitation and abuse. It is the responsibility of the humanitarian community to ensure these basic needs are met and also ensure that IDPs live in dignity. Decades of armed conflict and displacement and the COVID-19 pandemic have placed women and girls in extreme vulnerability in South Sudan, where sexual and gender-based violence (SGBV) continues to prevail in IDP communities. SGBV cases, including sexual violence, denial of resources and services, physical violence, and emotional violence continue to be reported, and increasingly so due to COVID-19-induced restrictions. 

IsraAID South Sudan has been working in communities in Juba since 2011 in partnership with government and community-based organizations. IsraAID is the lead agency on Gender-Based Violence in Central Equatoria State since August 2013. Because IsraAID places strong emphases to work with national partners, it has gained significant trust among communities, national service providers and partners.

Our sustainable model, which focuses on local ownership, both in emergencies and stabilized settings, ensures that national partners, service providers and communities themselves lead the prevention and response activities in the areas of operation. Thanks to SGBV prevention and response services provided by IsraAID in 2019-2020, IDPs in Mahad and Don Bosco communities have gained confidence and courage to report SGBV cases, while survivors continuously seek assistance. We intend to strengthen community-based structures, including community emergency councils and non-professional community-led services with the purpose of enabling community-led prevention and referral to be carried out in the absence of IsraAID and other organizations. It is expected that the experience and skills acquired by members of the community-based structures will be used in the IDP sites as well as their home communities.

After years of coordination and leadership, IsraAID is increasingly being requested to play an active and leading role in other locations. Over the past few years, IsraAID has gained tremendous respect and support from communities, local partners, state and local authorities, religious leaders, police, legal organizations, international agencies and GBV sub-cluster members. IsraAID South Sudan has a team of technical experts which includes international and national specialists, trainers and social workers (Gender Advisors, Police advisors, legal advisors, PSS advisors, and social workers/community mobilizers) who have been and continue to be trained to provide the best quality of services to communities, and to also train other service providers, thus creating a multiplier effect over time.

Thank you for your continued support, allowing us to develop a strong team of technical experts.

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As parts of the world begin to emerge from COVID-19 lockdown, IsraAID is focused on continuing to provide recovery support. Many vulnerable communities lack the resources and access to transition back to normalcy, including locations where protracted refugee crises are ongoing. IsraAID South Sudan is hard at work offering direct service delivery to assist refugee, host, and IDP communities to promote proper hygiene practice, offer psychosocial support to those most acutely affected, and help communities adhere to health guidelines.

Since March, South Sudan has had significant restrictions on movement to limit the spread of the virus. Borders and schools were closed, community gatherings were also ordered to stop, and a nighttime curfew was set. This prevented the virus from reaching the country until the beginning of April. At over 1000 active cases, the country began to re-open in May.

Home isolation and high levels of stress have caused the rate of domestic abuse and other forms of Gender-Based Violence (GBV) to skyrocket. Even before the pandemic, 65% of women and girls in South Sudan were survivors of GBV; amid the current realities, this is expected to dramatically increase. For both men and women, it may have been harder to find a good source of income amid government restrictions, which increases the stress levels at home and among family members, in addition to the direct stress of limited resources. There has also been less connection and communication between women and girls, and their usual support networks, which makes it more challenging to ask for support, or for others to pick up on any concerns. As such, IsraAID’s teams:

  • Transitioned activities at Women and Girl Friendly Spaces to accommodate health guidelines - by increasing the number of sessions to allow for small participant groups.
  • Promoting awareness of GBV issues among men and boys, calling on them to help lead the charge in ending these harmful practices.
  • Purchasing phone credit to provide remote case management for survivors of GBV, in light of increased demand and limited physical access to beneficiaries.
  • Continuing home visits as an essential service amid increasing cases of domestic violence
  • Distributing hygiene items to communities with limited access, to ensure higher levels of prevention even in remote, under-resourced areas.

Due to less restrictive government regulations, we are now able to increase our work with the community, and are hoping that we can soon return to our pre-COVID-19 programs at full capacity. 

Thank you for your support of these critical programs!

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Today, conditions in South Sudan are dire: 80% of the country’s population lives on less than a dollar a day; 7.1 million people are in need of aid; and 1.83 million are internally displaced persons (IDPs). Women in South Sudan are among the most vulnerable groups. When fighting breaks out, women are deliberately targeted: rape is used as a weapon of war; domestic violence rates spike in part due to emotional distress; and weak reporting mechanisms leave survivors with inadequate support.

Overwhelming instability and consistent mass movement exacerbates service provision, buckling under a renewed stream of survivors in desperate need of basic services. The region’s long history of violence and displacement, as well as high levels of food insecurity, malnutrition, and potential for the spread of disease, leave these communities with overwhelming emotional distress and limited access to urgently needed support.

Each of IsraAID's 12 WGFS offers a core set of services complemented by additional activities based on requests from community members; these include:

  • Case management for survivors of GBV, including emergency support, individual counseling, and access to referral pathways.
  • Women’s groups focusing on trauma relief, psychosocial support activities, livelihood training, and literacy and numeracy classes.
  • Community strengthening activities focusing on bolstering structures that can mitigate the risk of GBV, and advocate for a culture of prevention. These awareness raising activities seek to break down stigmas and taboos, encourage use of reporting mechanisms, and end harmful practices such as child marriage, forced marriage, domestic abuse, sex trafficking, and rape.
  • Menstrual Hygiene Management workshops reach out to women and girls of reproductive age, providing them with reusable sanitary pads, training them on production of sanitary pads, and teaching sexual and reproductive health modules.

IsraAID social workers first met Faizah during a March 2019 awareness-raising session. 25 years old, she has been separated from her parents since 2016, when they fled from South Sudan to Bidi-Bidi refugee camp in Uganda. Faizah was left to support herself. Despite working hard, she could no longer afford to pay for her basic necessities - even lunch.

Faizah decided to marry Asim, a man of around 40 years old, in August 2018. She hoped to settle down and ensure that her needs, such as food and medicine, were provided for, despite the deteriorating economic conditions in South Sudan.

Quickly, Faizah’s marriage became the cause of new problems. She was subjected to daily physical violence by her husband, even losing two teeth and suffering serious back injuries from the beatings. She had hoped to travel to Uganda to reunite with her parents, but could not afford the cost of the journey.

Faizah joined IsraAID’s Women Group sessions. She received both medical and psychosocial support, facilitated by IsraAID. She soon described a new sense of hope, self-belief, and regained strength. She has now started to move on with her life away from Asim.

Through support and guidance from the social workers, Faizah was empowered to return to work, starting a small-scale tea business in a village. She has escaped the violence and the control of her husband, renting her own tukul and living independently.

Faizah continues to attend the IsraAID Women’s Group, and has committed to empowering fellow women who find themselves in similar situations to her own.

Thank you for supporting this program!

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IsraAID’s programming in the Palorinya Refugee Settlement in Moyo District provides Child Protection and basic educational services to the local population. Close to 330,000 individuals live in the area, including refugees and the host community, made up of 65% children under the age of 17. With 74% of households reporting that at least one member lacks the psychological care they need, protection services are crucial to provide urgent support. Uganda hosts more than 1.2 million refugees, just under one third of all refugees worldwide, and the highest number in Africa. 67% of these refugees are from neighboring South Sudan, where war and civil strife forced them from their homes; others are from the DRC, Burundi, Somalia, and Rwanda.

IsraAID’s team on the ground improves community-based Child Protection mechanisms, by providing daily activities for children in our Child Friendly Space (CFS). The CFS’ implementation model is designed to involve community members directly in ensuring that children have the resources they need to learn and grow.

Over the past months, IsraAID, thanks to the generous support from our partners, has begun to construct a new CFS, which will allow us to reach new families and children in need of support. Upon completion, this CFS will have capacity to host an average of 150 children per day, 6 days a week, for 8 hours per day. Daily programming in basic numeracy/literacy, recreational activities, sports, expressive arts, and psychosocial support will be implemented by refugee and host-community facilitators who have undergone intensive psychosocial and child protection training with IsraAID staff. In addition, the CFS will be used as an outreach hub to engage the wider community in the importance of Child Protection and advocate for education.

Currently, the building process is well underway, with the foundation set and the structures beginning to take shape. After the site was cleared of trees, bushes, and hills, the foundation’s pit was dug for the two-classroom block, as well as the latrine. The foundation and column base was set, made of concrete, and the brick for the walls is currently being laid for the classrooms. The latrine block is completed, with an iron roof. The steel casement for the doors have been fitted, and are awaiting painting, which will take place three weeks after the plaster surfaces have cured and been set. The external walls of the latrines are finished with
rough cast, to protect them from the effects of weathering. The latrines also have a gutter connection from the roof, a vent pipe to prevent bad odors, and a handwashing tank has been constructed next to the latrines.

Following a few issues with which  authorities had jurisdiction of the land (now resolved), the most significant challenge during this period was bad weather. Heavy rains slowed down the process of transporting materials to the construction site and delayed the contractor’s ability to keep up with the schedule. Although this has postponed the CFS’s launch date, the wet weather has helped to cure the CFS’s walls, which in the long term, will make the building far more durable and weather resistant.

In addition, the contractor faced some difficulty in employing a sufficient number of workers, which further slowed down the work. IsraAID staff stepped in, seeing this as an opportunity, and recruited local community members to support the process. Not only does this help speed up the process, but it also bolsters local ownership of the CFS.

Concurrent to the construction of the new CFS, IsraAID’s regional Protection team also trained the new, and existing, CFS facilitators from the refugee and host community. The training included Psychological First Aid (PFA), elements of Child  Protection, the Protection referral system, how to operate CFS and more!

Thank you for your support!!

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Opening day at the new Child Resource Center.
Opening day at the new Child Resource Center.

Conflict, consistent drought, and widespread poverty in East Africa have left more than 22 million people in need of assistance to acquire adequate food. The ongoing civil conflict in South Sudan has especially exacerbated refugee crises and food shortages throughout the region. While 2018 received heavy regional rains that benefited cropland, the flooding was also devastating for individuals and livestock, causing widespread damage and intensifying local needs. Furthermore, the Famine Early Warning Systems Network has predicted that 2019 will see further erosion of household income, purchasing power, and food security, with widespread implications for millions in Yemen, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, and South Sudan.

40km northwest of Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya, Kalobeyei Integrated Settlement exists to help accommodate the severe overflow of refugees at the nearby camp. Both the settlement and the camp consistently increase in size as families flee from neighboring countries, including South Sudan, Burundi, and Rwanda. For many refugees, life in the camp or settlement is the only life they know. IsraAID continues to work in both Kakuma and Kalobeyei, focusing its efforts on empowering women and youth, offering support to the most vulnerable within the camp.

Dozens of community members and representatives from our partners, including the Latter Day Saints Charities, gathered at the recent opening of a new Child Resource Center in Kalobeyei! Annet, the IsraAID Field Coordinator at the camp and settlement, commenced the ceremony with enthusiastic remarks. The road to the opening of the Child Resource Center in Village III of Kalobeyei had been paved with growing pains and challenges. Nevertheless, the collective desire of everyone involved to create a child-friendly environment in Village III had fueled the perseverance of the community. As Annet spoke, I scanned the audience. The newly built Center was full of excited individuals, but nearly all of them were men. The gender composition of the room was an unexpected shock. Every time I had seen a child with an adult, it was his or her mother. I was encouraged to see the men so eager to engage in matters of child protection.

The event continued with remarks from our various partners. Eventually, I noticed that the center was becoming a bit noisy. Not only was there an increase in volume, there was also a shift in the energy of the room. It didn’t take me long to identify the source—a crowd of children had formed just outside, and accompanying the children, their mothers. The women might have been late for any number of reasons. Perhaps they were occupied caring for their young children, or maybe had some chores to finish before joining the ceremony.

Groups of kids peeked into the Child Resource Center to catch a glimpse of the action. Though they might not understand the mechanics of the Center’s construction, the children seemed to understand that this place had been created for them. The speakers remarked about the importance of Child Resource Centers, not just for their role in bringing the community together, but for their ability to safeguard the refugees’ hopes for the future. While many refugees have come to terms with spending their entire lives in Kakuma or Kalobeyei, they’re wholeheartedly hopeful that their children will have access to more. The establishment of a safe space for children to simply be children serves as a foundation for this hope.

Thank you for your support!

Yunny is currently attending George Washington University, in Washington, D.C. She is one of two IsraAID Humanitarian Fellows volunteering in Kenya for summer 2019.

Cutting the ribbon at the Child Resource Center.
Cutting the ribbon at the Child Resource Center.
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Organization Information


Location: Tel Aviv, Merkaz - Israel
Facebook: Facebook Page
Twitter: @IsraAID
Project Leader:
Molly Bernstein
Tel Aviv, Merkaz Israel
$1,396 raised of $99,000 goal
21 donations
$97,604 to go
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