South Sudan faces a number of challenges related to conflict, weather, and the economy, but existing social networks may provide an opportunity to build resilience and lay a foundation for peace and recovery.
South Sudan is the youngest sovereign country in the world, having become independent following multiple civil wars in Sudan and an independence referendum in 2011. The country has been embroiled in a civil war since 2013, and has also recently experienced extreme drought and famine, the internal displacement of nearly two million people, and the displacement of 2.5 million people to neighboring Uganda. South Sudan faces significant challenges from the ongoing conflict and is also vulnerable to a range of climatic and economic shocks, as well as shocks from plant and animal pests and diseases.
Complex Risk Environment
Decades of conflict have resulted in massive internal displacement, extremely low agricultural productivity, and widespread disruption of livelihoods. South Sudan is also vulnerable to climatic shocks such as drought and flooding and economic shocks resulting from an underdeveloped and highly oil-dependent economy that is further disrupted by the ongoing conflict. South Sudan is also vulnerable to food chain shocks from plant and animal pests and diseases.
Livestock and natural resources are both key assets and main drivers of conflict in South Sudan. Strengthening local capacity to manage these resources equitably will be key to building resilience. Additionally, a resilience approach for South Sudan should also include increasing and diversifying agricultural production through access to knowledge and inputs, markets, and postharvest and processing technology; generating opportunities for income and livelihood diversification, especially for youth; access to financial services like village savings groups; and access to humanitarian aid and the reintegration of internally displaced persons, refugees, and demobilized youth. Focusing on community-level resilience builds on existing social networks and can help lay the foundation for peace and recovery.
Opportunities for Strengthening Resilience
Applying a resilience focus to the humanitarian situation in South Sudan is a relatively recent approach. Given the newness of the approach and the complexity of the challenges facing South Sudan, it is likely that results will take time and be challenging to measure. However, activities are underway to determine the best approaches to building resilience in South Sudan.
Building community resilience through local resource management, income generation opportunities, and strengthening social networks could help support stability and recovery. South Sudan faces significant challenges largely resulting from ongoing conflict, but community-focused resilience activities may help increase stability and improve livelihoods.