ADRA Providing Increased Support to Vulnerable Areas in Southern Sudan
SILVER SPRING, Md. – As the results of a historic referendum in Southern Sudan were announced on January 31 effectively declaring independence from the north after decades of hostilities, the Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is continuing the implementation of a multi-year project to provide better health, nutrition and empowerment to more than half a million vulnerable people.
The three-year $55.7 million-worth Southern Sudan Health, Nutrition and Empowerment (SSHiNE) program will focus on addressing some of the most pressing issues facing Southern Sudan, including extremely high malnutrition rates among young children, high child and maternal mortality rates, poor water and sanitation access, high incidence of childhood and water-borne diseases, lack of health services and trained medical staff, low literacy rates especially among women, and pervasive gender inequality.
This program is centered in Northern Bahr-El-Ghazal, Warrap, and Upper Nile, three of the country’s most vulnerable states where high numbers of internally displaced persons (IDPs) have been identified as a result of decades of civil war with the north. Today, Southern Sudan hosts the greatest number of IDPs in the world. So far less than half of the 4.2 million displaced during the war have returned home. Of that number more than 400,000 have so far settled in Northern Bahr-El-Ghazal and many others in neighboring Warrap, according to USAID.
This post-war influx of returnees has caused increased food insecurity and widespread chronic malnutrition due to the fact that most households are not able to cultivate crops or are doing so on a limited basis. It has also strained local health services and brought attention to the need for better access to medical care and trained health professionals. An improvement in water and sanitation access has also been identified, and a need to increase literacy rates among women, which in this region rank among the lowest in the world.
SSHiNE’s strategy will concentrate on reducing malnutrition in children under the age of five by improving feeding and consumption practices among infants, young children, and pregnant and lactating women. In addition, the program will aim to decrease prevalence of illnesses, especially childhood diseases, by improving access to and the use of quality health care services and increase the practice of appropriate health and hygiene behaviors. ADRA expects also to enhance women’s empowerment within households and communities by increasing the active participation of women in community leadership and their shared control over household resources.
The SSHiNE program, which is expected to be completed by June 2013, is being implemented with funding from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and with the collaboration of a consortium of international partners, including Food for the Hungry International, Concern Worldwide, Malaria Consortium, and the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health; and local partners Assistance Mission to Africa, Nile Hope Development Forum (NHDF), and Aweil Community Development Organization (ACDO). Direct beneficiaries will include more than 500,000 people, among them some 40,000 children, and 504,000 indirect beneficiaries.
Sudan’s long-running war—the longest in Africa—claimed the lives of an estimated two million people and displaced more than four million others during the war’s duration between 1955 and 1972 and 1983 to 2005. In early January 2011, a referendum to determine southern secession from the north was held, following the terms of a 2005 peace agreement. While the war ended six years ago, returnees to Southern Sudan have often found themselves facing new challenges, such as economic difficulties, high rates of unemployment, increased food, water and health insecurity, and localized conflicts.
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