April 17th 2014, South Sudan
Some months ago the UNMISS base in Bor, South Sudan, was a horrific sight with more than 17,000 people cramped in a very small space. Today it’s all very different, thanks to IAS staff.
-The camp is clean, water provision has improved and sanitation and hygiene is also greatly improved, says IAS humanitarian coordinator, Daniel Zetterlund.
Together with South Sudan country director Repent Taban he visited our ongoing intervention in the UNMISS base, The United Nation Mission, in Bor. IAS staff were the first to respond on 27 December 2013 and has been present continuously to this date.
– There has been no water related deaths for the last 5 weeks and we are very happy about the improvement. It’s clear that IAS has made a great impact here, many of the refugees are now even naming their kids Yakani after our program coordinator Yakani Hillary, continuous Daniel with a smile.
IAS team mobilized community leaders
The first thing IAS did when setting ground in December was to respond in water, sanitation and hygiene. But to do this effectively our team mobilized community leaders within the UNMISS base.
– They set up community structures capable of responding to the massive needs on ground. An ‘elders community council’ was established which serves as the voice for the people within the UNMISS base, says Repent Taban.
Linked to this council were a number of people who could also perform more technical duties. IAS also hired a number of volunteers and key staff who could take charge in the implementation of activities.
“We are now able to help people outside the UNMISS base”
During the time of IAS presence the town has shifted hands four times between Government and opposition forces. Today the Government is in control of the town and security has improved, albeit it remains tense and unpredictable.
– However, IAS believes it is now possible to do larger scale programming outside the UNMISS base, targeting Bor County and nearby surroundings. While still maintaining the good work inside the UNMISS base we also look at responding to populations outside; also ensuring neutrality and equal distribution of aid, says Repent Taban.
Facing challenges and providing hope
Some of the key challenges are the upcoming rains which is due to start around this time. Measures are though put in place to ensure that the people in UNMISS base can still be served throughout this season.
– Drainage systems are being constructed among others. IAS aims to continue to take a lead in water, hygiene and sanitation. The director of OCHA told us that IAS provides more then just aid, we also provide hope and that we will continue to maintain, says Daniel.
Today IAS run programmes and maintains staff/volunteers in six main categories:
Text: Rebecka Woods
Photo: Repent Taban