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CCCM in L3 Emergencies: South Sudan

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CCCM in L3 Emergencies: South Sudan

Major sudden-onset humanitarian crises caused by natural disasters or conflict sometimes require a system-wide humanitarian response. In exceptional circumstances the gravity of the situation justifies mobilization beyond levels normally expected, in order to ensure a more effective response to the humanitarian needs of affected populations. A Humanitarian System-Wide Emergency Activation – or Level 3 (L3) activation – triggers tools and mechanisms to ensure that the system delivers effectively and can monitor its performance; adequate capacity and tools for enhanced leadership and coordination of the humanitarian system are set up; and Inter Agency Standing Committee (IASC) member organizations are engaged to make sure that they can put in place the right systems and mobilize resources to contribute to the response according to their mandate areas.

L3 emergencies are designated by the Emergency Relief Coordinator (ERC), in consultation with the IASC Principals, on the basis of analysis of the following 5 criteria: scale, complexity, urgency, capacity and reputational risk.

In the following weeks, the Global CCCM Cluster will be focusing on the work of the CCCM Cluster in response to the L3 emergencies declared in Central African Republic (CAR), South Sudan and the Philippines.


South Sudan

Political turmoil led to the outbreak of violence in Juba on 15 December 2013 and conflict quickly spread to other areas of South Sudan. On 11 February 2014, Valerie Amos, Emergency Relief Coordinator, declared the crisis in South Sudan a ‘Level 3’ system wide emergency. The latest figures indicate that 7 million people will be in need of assistance and 2.3 million people will be displaced internally or as refugees (CRP Update May 2014).

Displacement is not a new phenomenon in South Sudan – people have previously been displaced as a result of seasonal flooding, political tensions and other factors, but CCCM operations had never been required. However, on 25 December 2013, in order to facilitate the effective and rapid provision of life-saving services to displaced populations gathering in camp-like settings, the CCCM Cluster was officially activated.

In collaboration with ACTED, the NGO co-lead, the CCCM Cluster supports the coordination of humanitarian assistance in displacement sites, provides information management services, including IDP registration, and facilitates site planning, set up and expansion and /or relocation efforts in order to tackle over-congestion and improve living conditions for IDPs within sites.  

Patterns of displacement are fluid and changing depending on the security situation, people’s options for safety and refuge, the nature of threats again the community and whether people are fleeing from urban or rural areas. About 1.3 million people have been displaced inside South Sudan and 161 displacement locations have been identified (OCHA Update  28 August 2014) and it is estimated that the number will rise to 1.5 million. The CCCM Cluster is directly targeting 693,000 IDPs in United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) bases, commonly known as Protection of Civilian (PoC) sites, collective centres and spontaneous settlements. Meanwhile, the CCCM Cluster is advocating with other clusters and partners to provide assistance to vulnerable groups outside these sites in host communities. As of August,  421,752 people have been reached with emergency CCCM services according to IOM Registration.

In February 2014, information from the Displacement Tracking Matrix (DTM) – an information management tool used to gather data on displaced populations and conditions in areas where they are temporarily settled – was used by the CCCM Cluster in order to identify needs and essential gaps in service provision in 27 sites across Central Equatoria, Unity, Upper Nile, Warrap and Lakes states.  As of August 2014, DTM coverage has reached 72 displacement sites across seven states, including 18 host communities and 31 spontaneous settlements . As of August 2014, nearly 350,000 people have been registered. More than two thirds of registered displaced persons reside in spontaneous settlements; more than a quarter is currently in PoC sites; and the remaining population is in collective centres such as school and churches. At the time of writing, data gathering for the fifth round of DTM is on-going with the objective of reaching all displacement sites.

Of the spontaneous settlements assessed, most were located in rural areas, far away from towns and cities and lacking access to services. Generally, these sites present the highest number of gaps both in terms of site management and services. Access is also an issue. Untreated surface water constitutes the main water source and WASH facilities are non-existent at most settlements. On 15 May, the South Sudan Ministry of Health declared an outbreak of cholera in Juba. As of 24 August, 132 people have died from the disease, which is transmitted through contaminated food or water and if left untreated can be fatal within 24 hours due to rapid dehydration. Infections have been reported beyond Juba, in Jonglei and Upper Nile states (IOM Update 31 May), the majority of the last cases are reported in four counties of Eastern Equatoria State (OCHA Report 28 August 2014).

Malnutrition is also a major concern, and according to the latest data about four million people are facing acute food insecurity across South Sudan (OCHA Sitrep # 36). As far as possible, CCCM partners are trying to expand their presence to new locations where significant IDP groups have been reported in order to facilitate the identification of needs and provide CCCM support if required.

The rainy reason, which began in some areas in March, brings further hardship to displaced and vulnerable populations and greater challenges for humanitarian responders – by June about 60 percent of the country is inaccessible by road. Areas along the Nile, including Awerial County in Lakes State, where it is estimated that 95,000 people are gathered in open areas, are prone to flooding (CRP Update May 2014). Flooding in August has affected a section of Malakal PoC, as well as provoked a partial collapse of sanitary facilities at Bentiu PoC (IOM South Sudan update August 2014 and OCHA Report 28 August 2014). In total, about 475,000 people are thought to be sheltering in flood-prone areas (CRP Update May 2014). For those displaced along riverbanks and other flood-prone sites, the CCCM Cluster is working with national authorities and technical partners to identify safer sites to which people can move. IDPs and host communities are also being mobilized and sensitized on flood mitigation measures. These include site assessments, mapping and digging of drainage, and ground elevation.

Many IDPs taking refuge in collective centres are living in the open air within the centre’s grounds without shelter. While IDPs may have access to toilet facilities, these sites are not equipped to support the significant populations living there. As displacement continues and public structures seek to resume their normal functions, the CCCM Cluster is working with actors including Education, Shelter and NFI clusters and relevant authorities to identify alternative solutions. For example, in Juba, CCCM partner, People In Need (PIN), was able to prevent secondary displacement of IDPs at Mahad Primary School by providing small-scale site improvements, which allowed classes to resume while IDPs remain accommodated on school property.

PoC sites have the largest presence of humanitarian actors and service providers. There are eight UNMISS bases hosting more than 95,000 IDPs across the country (OCHA Sitrep # 38). However, these sites were not designed to hold large populations for protracted periods of time and overcrowding is a major concern. The limited availability of space has impacted humanitarian partners’ ability to meet minimum humanitarian standards and exposed the population to health and protection risks. The onset of heavy rains has also resulted in flooding and the collapse of temporary shelters at sites across the country. The CCCM Cluster has been working with relevant actors to address these issues. At UNMISS Tongping PoC area, a PoC of particular concern regarding congestion and health, drainage systems are being rehabilitated and by the end  of May a cumulative total of 3,034 IDPs had been assisted to relocated to the larger UN House PoC area in Juba. Site expansion and improvement works are underway at the PoCs in Juba (Central Equatoria State), Malakal (Upper Nile State), Wau (Western Bahr el Ghazal) and Bor (Jonglei State) as well as at the large spontaneous settlement in Awerial (Lakes State). In Malakal,  around 12,800 IDPs have recently been relocated to the new PoC as a result of site expansion works. 1,600 tents have been pitched and by the end of August the site is already nearly full. Protection is also a significant concern at PoC sites due to internal and external security issues. The CCCM Cluster is working with the Protection Cluster to harmonize vulnerability criteria and is advocating along with other clusters and service providers to prioritize vulnerable groups. The CCCM Cluster has also put forward minimum gender commitments and continues to work closely with UNMISS in their protection of civilians role and as camp administrator in the PoC sites.

Capacity building among camp management partners and other stakeholders on site management principles and good practice is a priority for the CCCM Cluster to ensure the sustainability of achievements and identification of durable solutions.  CCCM trainings were rolled out in February in Juba for 28 participants from the UN, INGOs, NGOs, UNMISS and the IDP community. Since then additional trainings have been rolled out in Twic, Awerial, Malakal and Bor. In addition, site managers are providing basic site management training for IDP leaders embedded in leadership structures and participating in decision-making, including women, minority groups and persons with specific needs.

At the request of the humanitarian community, the CCCM Cluster has provided support to enable the operation of humanitarian hubs in Malakal, Bentiu and Bor where partners had lost their offices due to the crisis or where insecurity was restricting their ability to access locations where their offices were based. These hubs provide a common humanitarian workspace to ensure the effective implementation of life-saving humanitarian activities in priority locations. In partnership with the Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB) and International Humanitarian Partnership (IHP), staff have been trained to assemble and dismantle humanitarian hubs. These mobile units consist of 13 accommodation tents for 25-50 people, two office tents, ablution facilities, water purification unit and solar power for lighting and electricity. As of August 2014, humanitarian hubs are established and functional in PoC sites in Malakal, Bor and Bentiu and at the spontaneous settlement in Awerial. Additional humanitarian hub(s) will be set up, provided there is a need, in locations identified and prioritized by the humanitarian community. 

Through the support of the UN Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), the CCCM Cluster Lead has disbursed grants to seven partners to support the establishment of CCCM structures in 17 counties. This provided life-saving CCCM services to over 100,000 IDPs in Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile states. The grants enabled the setup of camp management structures, such as community committees that will facilitate the identification of urgent needs and the provision of services to the displaced population. Additional grants are provided to partners who will carry out site development works and roll-out community mobilization activities in displacement sites.

The CCCM Cluster will expand its activities to include support to foreign nationals affected by the insecurities in South Sudan and who are willing to return to their countries of origin. This caseload was largely overlooked by the humanitarian community as a whole at the onset of the crisis.