Insecurity blamed for procurement delays in South Sudan

Displaced people at a makeshift camp in South Sudan. The deteriorating insecurity in the country is making delivery of aid more difficult. Photo by: K. McKinsey / UNHCR

Around this time of year, aid groups in South Sudan are stocking up on supplies before the rainy season starts and further complicates their relief work.

Poor infrastructure and lack of roads have led organizations to prepare in advance to make sure their warehouses are full before the rain starts pouring down and cutting off outlying areas that almost immediately become inaccessible by road.

But with the deteriorating insecurity in the country since the failed coup last December, this strategy is proving hard to accomplish.

The current spat of instability — which started out as an isolated crisis in Juba but has since spread to seven states — has “disrupted” the so-called “prepositioning” strategy. Aid groups are finding it increasingly difficult to move across states because their suppliers are not willing to take the risk.

Transportation services are “nervous” and “unwilling to put their assets (trucks) and drivers at risk on insecure roads,” Heather Blackwell, country director for the Danish Refugee Council, told Devex.

“Suppliers and business have all but disappeared in Juba — therefore, procurement in Juba for even basic items is becoming more difficult … Regional suppliers may be able to supply materials but only to Juba,” she said.

And the situation is not expected to improve anytime soon, so in early 2014 relief distribution will prove do even more daunting for aid workers.

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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.