Humanitarian needs were high throughout 2012 due to unresolved political issues between South Sudan and Sudan, and the legacy of decades of conflict. Not all of the humanitarian challenges in 2012 were anticipated. For example, more than 180,000 refugees fled conflict in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, though humanitarian agencies had only anticipated 40,000 refugees, stretching the humanitarian response.
In 2012, the number of people requiring food assistance doubled from 1.2 million to 2.4 million. By the end of the year, humanitarian partners had provided support to more than 2.7 million people. More than 190,000 people were displaced due to internal violence, and 155,000 South Sudanese who returned from Sudan required humanitarian aid.
The Government, already struggling to provide basic services in many areas, saw its response capacity diminish when oil revenues dried up due to the oil shutdown in early 2012. In response, more than 30 separate relief operations were undertaken in 2012.
South Sudan’s challenging operating environment in 2012 continued to require innovative strategies, such as pre-positioning stocks, improving emergency response and protection, and increasing livelihood support and resilience.
OCHA increased support to State-level cluster-coordination capacity. This included a review of OCHA’s presence in eight of the 10 states, leading to the decision to close the Eastern Equatoria sub-office. Freed resources helped strengthen OCHA’s response capacity in Western Bahr-el Ghazal and increased in-country surge capacity.
OCHA strengthened Government capacity to carry out needs assessments, and it improved overall response capacity by supporting the pre-positioning of emergency supplies in field hubs, particularly ahead of the rainy season. OCHA led the development of the South Sudan humanitarian contingency plan and supported eight core relief pipelines by advocating for adequate funding from donors and pooled funds.
Access to people in need remained a challenge. There were numerous incidents of harassment and commandeering of assets by State and non-state actors. Humanitarian partners reported 197 access incidents, representing a 48 per cent increase compared with 2011. The highest number of incidents (55) was reported in the capital, Juba and were related to bureaucratic impediments. Many of these constraints affected activities across the country.
Physical access remained extremely challenging in South Sudan, with more than 60 per cent of the country cut-off during the rainy season. Road access to key humanitarian response locations—including Pariang County in Unity, Maban and Renk counties in Upper Nile, Pibor County in Jonglei and Twic County in Warrap—was minimal or non-existent from July to December, necessitating expensive air operations.
OCHA negotiated humanitarian access with the Government on behalf of the humanitarian community to facilitate safe and timely access to people in need. OCHA also provided guidance and support to humanitarian partners facing access constraints. OCHA set up the Access Working Group to track access constraints and to provide a common platform to advocate unhindered humanitarian action. The group’s access database provided up-to-date information on humanitarian interference and provided a strong evidence base to strengthen access negotiations.
In 2012, OCHA-managed humanitarian pooled funds ensured that priority needs (as agreed by the clusters, HCT and the Common Humanitarian Fund (CHF) Advisory Board) were adequately addressed. Over $109.3 million was disbursed to humanitarian partners through the South Sudan CHF in 2012. The Central Emergency Response Fund and CHF were vital tools for timely resource allocation. Combined, they contributed $158.3 million to the overall requirements of the Consolidated Appeal in 2012. The CHF supported 180 projects, with 74 per cent implemented by NGOs and 26 per cent by UN agencies.