Donors, NGOs scrambling to meet funding needs in South Sudan

Internally displaced families at the Tong Ping settlement in Juba, South Sudan. Photo by: Anita Kattakhuzy/Oxfam / CC BY-NC-ND

In war-torn South Sudan, the humanitarian situation not only doesn’t improve but seems to get worse each week — and funds are drying up.

No matter how many times they appeal to the international community after the conflict that erupted after December’s failed coup, NGOs on the ground see the money only trickling in and are getting increasingly frustrated with the lack of donor response to their needs.

According to data from the U.N. Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in Juba, just 38 percent of the $1.27 billion U.N. appeal to deal with the crisis has been met, and most it in short-term grants rather than long-term assistance.

The latter is precisely what aid groups insist they need to fund their operations on the ground until June.

“How many lives have to be lost before the parties to the conflict silence their guns and donors responds with more resources?” Oxfam Executive Director Winnie Byanyima said following the release this week of a joint report by 22 NGOs on the alarming state of food insecurity and malnutrition in the world’s youngest country. “The international community seems to have been stunned by how fast things have deteriorated. It is struggling to find a coherent way to respond,” she argued.

Will donors deliver?

Aid groups hope that the upcoming donors’ conference in Oslo, Norway, will deliver a substantial scaling up in funding and support to the crisis from the international community. At present, the target is still to meet the current U.N. appeal, although a source familiar with the issue told us that figure may have to be reviewed given the deterioration of the humanitarian crisis in South Sudan.

It’s a question if and when donors actually deliver on their pledges, or stick to their (bad) habit of disbursing the money much later than promised.

South Sudan has often been touted as one of Africa’s “donor darlings,” but after the nation’s long struggle for independence ended successfully in 2011, the funds that initially was pouring in have now slowed down to a trickle of cash.

According to several sources on the ground consulted by Devex, the funding has been decreasing rapidly in the past few months, even before the December conflict.

The reason rebind this is unclear, but it’s definitely putting a strain on NGOs, now forced to divert part of their budget allocated for development to deal not only with the humanitarian crisis, and dealing with myriad obstacles to delivering aid in the middle of the rainy season is pushing up logistical costs.

Stay tuned for more insights on how aid groups are dealing with the emergency in South Sudan.

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See more:

Aid mislabeling controversy affects aid delivery in South Sudan
Aid workers affected as ceasefire stalls in South Sudan
Insecurity blamed for procurement delays in South Sudan
Top 3 challenges for aid work in volatile South Sudan
What foreign aid got wrong in South Sudan

About the author

  • Jenny Lei Ravelo

    Jenny Lei Ravelo is a Devex Senior Reporter based in Manila. She covers global health, with a particular focus on the World Health Organization, and other development and humanitarian aid trends in Asia Pacific. Prior to Devex, she wrote for ABS-CBN, one of the largest broadcasting networks in the Philippines, and was a copy editor for various international scientific journals. She received her journalism degree from the University of Santo Tomas.