In South Sudan, pooled funds support psychosocial and shelter

Women walk past a dyke carrying dry papyrus reeds on their heads in Rubkona town.

South Sudan | 2023 | CBPF

South Sudan, Twic East. Devastating floods back in 2021 forced Clara*, her husband and four children to flee, leaving everything behind.

Clara was overwhelmed by the experience and the difficulty of life in the displacement camp. She and her husband had to borrow money just to feed the children. “Life was difficult in the camp, more difficult than living in the village. Sometimes I felt like ending my life,” she said.

Fast forward to 2024 and some nine million people need humanitarian assistance across South Sudan. Climate change drives dry spells as well as extreme floods like the one Clara experienced. And violence continues to drive displacement and protection risks, particularly for women and girls.

Whether displaced by climate or conflict, families are forced to start over, often with very little.

A few months after the floods, as she and her husband tried to rebuild, Clara heard about a women’s space in Twic East town and started visiting. The centre had funding support from the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund, and was run by Care International. Here she could speak with a counsellor and other women who had lived through similar experiences.

“I was able to talk openly and ask questions. I got answers from the other women, as well as the counsellor,” she explained. In time, those darker thoughts subsided.

Alongside the counselling and support, Clara and the other women could take classes in different skills that might help them earn money.

Clara and her group practised baking bread. As their skills and confidence grew, they used flour, oil, and ovens in the space to start a small bakery. With the proceeds, Clara joined the Village Saving and Loan, setting aside a small amount each week to put toward school fees and other essentials.

“Everything I learned at the centre, I put into practice,” Clara said.

Helping one another through difficult times

Sheila* became homeless when a violent conflict broke out in her village in late 2022. At the time, she had two sons and was pregnant with her third child. She and her children fled with no belongings.

The host community stepped in to help Sheila with food and the basics, despite having little to share.

A South Sudanese NGO, Youth Empowerment and Development Aid (YEDA), with funding from the SSHF, also provided mosquito nets, blankets, and kitchen sets. The people in the host community helped her build a simple shelter with plastic sheets and tentpoles. It was a start.

Sheila focused on getting her family settled and safe. And she did not forget those who helped her right at the start. She shared some of the kitchen supplies with the women who had welcomed her in those early, difficult days.

“We have supported each other, and this is why we can live peacefully together,” Sheila said. “When I first arrived here, I had nothing and nobody but my children. Now I can help others,” she added.

*All names are changed.

For more information on the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund.