Caritas members in South Sudan aim to provide 100,000 people with water, food, shelter, health and education.
South Sudan becomes an independent state 9 July 2011 after decades of conflict, poor governance and natural disasters. People in the emerging nation face an acute shortage of basic needs as the country lacks infrastructure and faces high levels of poverty and underdevelopment.
Currently, a third of children are underweight, over a third fail to live to their fifth birthday, half the population live in extreme poverty and literacy rates are as low as 36 percent. A young girl in South Sudan has more chance of dying in childbirth than finishing her primary education.
Caritas members will work together in partnership with the local Catholic Church under a joint programme of $7.6 million (€5.7 million) running up till July 2012. The work will focus on repair and rehabilitation of water, sanitation, health and education facilities and the provision of shelter, food and other aid assistance.
Caritas will work with those returning to their homes, the internally displaced and other vulnerable people. All the work will have strong community ownership with projects being handed over to the local population to maintain and run in the future.
Sudan Country Representative for Catholic Relief Services, Darren Hercyk, is part of the Caritas coordination effort. He said, “The people of South Sudan have an historic opportunity to put years of conflict behind them. Caritas has worked side by side with them for decades and we share in their hopes and joy for the new nation’s future. “
Caritas will remain committed to supporting the Church in South Sudan. We will join with them in building a country where access to the basics like clean water, health care, an education and safe birth delivery is guaranteed.”
Caritas will also further support the development of an early warning system through the Sudan Catholic Radio Network (SCRN) to reduce the impact of future disasters.
Humanitarian assistance to South Sudan will be required beyond the timeframe of the programme. The Caritas programme will also increase capacity in national and local partners so they carry the work forward with minimal support from the Caritas confederation.
This will involve training of staff in national and diocesan Caritas Sudan offices (Caritas Sudan was formally known as Sudan Aid) on programme delivery and reducing future disasters. International Caritas members operating in South Sudan will continue with the process of twinning with local diocesan offices.
Caritas is also supporting the peacebuilding initiatives of the Sudanese bishops, such as an international prayer campaign and a tree planting initiative in every diocese in South Sudan.