On 9 July 2011, the Republic of South Sudan became the world’s youngest state after nearly four decades of a civil war. The impact of the long conflict on the lives and livelihoods of millions of South Sudanese, as well as basic government services and state institutions, was devastating. With weakened infrastructure, limited capacity and a need to build state-society relations, the country faces massive challenges in overcoming to effectively tackle poverty.
To support to post-conflict livelihood recovery in South Sudan, BRAC designed and implemented a Graduation pilot between April 2013 and September 2015 to provide targeted support to 250 ultra-poor women and their households in Yei County. The pilot was designed specifically to address the underlying causes of food insecurity, focusing on delivering dependable, predictable asset transfers that build community resilience and enable the recovery of productive assets. Despite the operational context of conflict, insecurity and economic turmoil, participants were able to consume more food and non-food items, access multiple sources of income generation, continue to invest in assets and, most critically, to save money and move towards more productive and secure livelihoods.
- Rigorous targeting methodology to effectively identify 250 ultra-poor women
- Weekly small cash transfer for the first 6 months to stabilize participant food consumption
- Asset transfer, such as agriculture, duck and goat rearing as well as small enterprise development, to improve household income and engage people in ultra-poverty in income-generating activities
- Access to financial services supporting income generating activities (traditional and non-traditional) and saving schemes.
- Skills training and regular support to improve production, entrepreneurial and financial literacy skills;
To secure households gains within a fragile and volatile context, the pilot incorporated the following additional features:
- Training to ensure both male and female household members view assets as ‘family assets’ to reduce the risk of males feeling excluded or taking over assets / resources transferred;
- Weekly visits with male and female household members to support joint decisions, such as asset growth, business planning;
- Specific training of male household members to provide additional support for ultra-poor women and reduce their workload, e.g. through helping to manage assets;
- Health support offered to TUP households included free medicine and doctor’s advice.
- Health campaigns to provide free health checks and treatment for participants as well as the whole community
- Access to medical advice was extended to non-ultra poor households who also experienced difficulty accessing health services due to transport and other costs. These patients pay a nominal fee, which was collected and used as a revolving fund to ensure health support for TUP households over the last six months of the project.
- Creation of six local institutions (VPRCs) and a County TUP Committee to strengthened social safety nets, savings, revolving funds and asset building for participants, as well as provide linkages to government & private sector networks. For example, VPRC members helped to connect participants to government services and local businesses to purchase participants products.
- Different imported fruits like Jackfruits and Avocado were provided to participants instead of food subsidies, as this is a more sustainable solution as participants can consume the fruit they produce.
Adapting to Conflict
The security and socio-economic context in Yei County changed escalated six months into the project due to heightened political instability in South Sudan. Also, during the final year of the project the incidence of armed robbery, killings and rape on the highway connecting Yei county with the capital city of the country increased alarmingly. This had multiple negative impacts including making staff travel and market access for TUP beneficiaries more difficult. In January 2014, sudden rise in ethnic conflict resulted in a 7% loss of TUP household assets.
In anticipation of these direct challenges, BRAC put in place a robust mitigation risk strategy, which helped to staff respond to security challenges effectively, as well as ensured participants continued to diversity production, invest in assets, save and increase consumption, thereby enabling them to move towards secure and sustainable livelihoods. These measures included:
- Risk assessment for the assets and resources of ultra-poor households;
- community Contingency Plans;
- Risk Management Plan;
- GIS/Remote Sensing Real Time Evaluation System both for emergency support and evaluation;
- Funding Partner: DFID
- Implementing Organization: BRAC International
- Participants: 250
- Duration: 2013-2016