Invest In National Partners For Better Aid Delivery in South Sudan: Agencies

"... In the context of protracted crises and difficult conflict environments, local and national actors have a fundamental contribution to make. This includes the churches, which have played a valuable role in bridging the gap between the humanitarian system and communities.”

Invest In National Partners For Better Aid Delivery in South Sudan: Agencies
South Sudan faces one of the world’s most dire humanitarian crises owing to two years of brutal war. [Credit: OCHA]

By Peter Lokale Nakimangole

JUBA, April 2016 [Gurtong] –The international humanitarian community needs to draw more on the abilities of local organisations in South Sudan to ensure a more effective response to the humanitarian crisis, said four agencies in a joint report launched today.

South Sudan faces one of the world’s most dire humanitarian crises owing to two years of brutal war that has left 2.3 million people displaced and at least 2.8 million severely food insecure.

In the report, ‘Missed Out: The role of local actors in humanitarian response,’ Christian Aid, Oxfam, Tearfund, and CAFOD and Trocaire in Partnership are calling for international organisations in South Sudan - including donors and the UN - to adapt the humanitarian system and do more to support local and national organisations. This includes reviewing funding streams, investing in capacity, and firmly embedding the role of national actors in the humanitarian system.

The agencies said South Sudan demonstrates clear lessons for how to approach a more effective humanitarian response globally, illustrating that only a response involving and strengthening national actors can be truly effective and sustainable.

Emma Jane Drew, Humanitarian Program Manager for Oxfam in South Sudan said, “The role of international agencies and national organisations in South Sudan is to save lives and we therefore cannot work in isolation. If we don’t do more to work as partners, understand and help national agencies to be more effective and visible in the response, we risk missing key opportunities for better aid delivery.”

“The full range of national organisations, including women’s groups, must be involved from the start of any crisis, not just as first responders, as they have invaluable analysis of the local context. OCHA and the UN cluster system, for example, should adapt the humanitarian systems to better include them in coordination processes and foster their participation in the response.”

In South Sudan, funding remains a huge constraint to how well national actors can fulfil their role. Opportunities are few, complex and highly competitive, leading to exclusion of national NGOs. Donors and international actors should develop strategies for directly funding national organisations and commit to providing a minimal percentage by 2018.

The report has been launched a month before the start of the World Humanitarian Summit, in Istanbul, Turkey, where local and international humanitarian agencies will be calling for changes in how the humanitarian system operates to enable a more locally-led response.

Francis Flood, South Sudan Country Representative for CAFOD and Trocaire in Partnership said in their joint statement that the ongoing humanitarian emergency in South Sudan shows that there is a continued need for a rapid and effective emergency response mechanism to reach vulnerable communities with life-saving aid.

"CAFOD and Trocaire in Partnership knows that direct funding to local partners and national organisations already working on the frontline, ensures that aid gets to where it’s needed most, and in so doing saves lives.”

Jolly Kemigabo, South Sudan Country Manager for Christian Aid said the case of South Sudan reflects global trends, where the nature of humanitarian emergencies and response has changed.

"... In the context of protracted crises and difficult conflict environments, local and national actors have a fundamental contribution to make. This includes the churches, which have played a valuable role in bridging the gap between the humanitarian system and communities.”

“Local and national actors are the key to effective future emergency response, and power imbalances must be addressed in recognition of this. A true partnership model recognises that the comparative advantages of national and international organisations are complementary. The international humanitarian system should prioritise investment in national capacity, and at the same time national actors should work together to highlight their value and demonstrate capacity.”

South Sudan Country Director for Tearfund's Florence Mawanda, said that the timely report underlines the importance of investing in partnership with local agencies before a crisis occurs so as to understand each other’s capacity to deliver and enable effective scale up of response in case of need.

The findings of the study are based on interviews with a broad cross-section of humanitarian actors in South Sudan between April and June 2015, and seek to increase understanding on the strengths and challenges of working with national and local NGOs in South Sudan’s conflict-driven emergency.

The research was conducted by one national and one international researcher in both government and opposition held areas and included 51 interviews with representatives of national organisations, international NGOs, UN agencies and donors, government and local authorities, community members and faith leaders.

According to the joint statement this report is part of a research series commissioned by CAFOD and Trocaire in Partnership, Christian Aid, Oxfam and Tearfund (and ActionAid UK in other locations) on humanitarian partnerships and the role of local and national actors in diverse responses.
 

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