Charities Operating in South Sudan
South Sudan is a country in dire need of assistance. Having seceded from Sudan over a decade ago, the fledgling nation’s history has been fraught with conflict between its government and armed opposition groups. The fighting stopped in 2018 when South Sudan’s president Salva Kiir and the leader of the main opposition force agreed on a peace deal. The opposition leader became the vice president and he and Kiir have been working toward unity and a new constitution.

However, the South Sudanese people are still in trouble. More than 60% of the population is facing food insecurity, the country is chronically underdeveloped and extensive flooding devastates many areas. Here are five charities operating in South Sudan.

5 Charities Operating in South Sudan

  1. Sudan Relief Fund: The Sudan Relief Fund is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit religious organization founded in 1998 and is dedicated to bringing food, safe drinking water, clothing, shelter and medical attention to the people of South Sudan. The organization seeks to aid in the development of infrastructure necessary for South Sudan’s growth and stability. Some of its accomplishments include the Catholic University of South Sudan, which the organization helped build and continues to fund, and the “Mother of Mercy” hospital which is a full-scale hospital with 400 beds. Moreover, the organization also provided more than $5 million in support to South Sudan in 2021. Many of the South Sudan Relief Fund’s operations and aid efforts take place right in South Sudan, ensuring that most of the donations go right to where people need them.
  2. International Rescue Committee (IRC): The IRC is a global humanitarian aid, relief and development 501 (c)(3) nonprofit. The organization operates in more than 40 crisis-affected countries and has assisted in some of the worst humanitarian crises like Afghanistan and currently Ukraine. South Sudan is one of the countries the IRC aids and the country is under a “crisis watch,” according to the IRC website. On October 17, 2021, the IRC issued a statement about its emergency response to assist the South Sudanese people affected by conflict, disease and flooding.
  3. Helping Hands for South Sudan: Helping Hands for South Sudan is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit charity based in Palo Alto, CA. Its founder, Gabriel Akim Nyok, is a Sudanese refugee and was one of the “Lost Boys and Girls of South Sudan,” the nickname for the 20,000+ children who fled from southern Sudan during the civil war. He came to the United States in 2006 and has since taken multiple trips to South Sudan and Uganda to meet with locals, school officials and refugees. His goal is to help facilitate educational needs in the country and previously sponsored the education of South Sudanese children. Nyok has direct involvement in the charity’s operations as its chairman. About 99% of donations go directly to children and a donation of $500 can sponsor a child’s education for a whole year.
  4. Water for South Sudan: Founded in 2008, Water for South Sudan is a charity that helps provide people with clean and safe water through sustainable means. Its founder, Salva Dut, was also a “Lost Boy,” like Gabriel Nyok. The charity takes a collaborative approach by leveraging its existing resources and using them to work alongside communities in need to build or repair water wells. Its projects also include building latrines and commencing hygiene education programs to improve water practices. According to 2021’s report, the charity received more than $1.9 million in contributions and drilled 48 new wells, rebuilt 48 wells and successfully taught 99 hygienic training practices.
  5. Hope Ofiriha: Hope Ofiriha is an NGO registered in Norway and with the South Sudanese government. It has a 501(c)(3) status in the U.S. Its mission is to assist women and children in overcoming social injustice, disease, poverty and illiteracy in Magwi County, one of the poorest and most remote places in the world. According to Hope Ofiriha’s website, its small-scale grassroots projects aim to act as a “hand-up,” not as handouts. The categories of its projects are education, health care, agriculture, child sponsorship, microcredit and the environment. The NGO was originally founded in 1996 as a group that provided agricultural workshops to widows to give them the skills necessary to become self-reliant. Although the organization has grown tremendously since then, its sentiment of helping women (and now children) become self-sufficient has remained the same.

Concluding Thoughts

These five charities operating in South Sudan are making a substantial difference in the country because of their direct approaches and willingness to garner input from the South Sudanese people.

– Matthew Wikfors
Photo: Flickr

Poverty Reduction in South Sudan
South Sudan is considered the youngest nation in the world, officially gaining independence from Sudan on July 9, 2011, after a vote for independence was passed via referendum in January of that year. Data from the World Bank shows that the poverty rate in South Sudan was 82.3% as of 2016 – the highest poverty rate in the world. The World Bank also outlined some of the other issues South Sudan faces including severe flooding, food shortages a humanitarian crisis coupled with a vulnerable government built upon a shaky peace treaty. These issues make it extremely difficult for South Sudan to address the poverty crisis.

The Difficulty of Addressing Poverty Reduction in South Sudan

The most significant of the issues South Sudan faces is the state of its government. In 2013, a violent conflict broke out leading to atrocities committed against civilians. All sides in the conflict signed a peace deal in 2015 for a unity government but the deal collapsed in 2016, leading to more conflict. In 2018, that deal became revitalized when President Salva Kiir and the leader of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA/IO), Riek Machar, came to an agreement. Machar became vice president under the new government and the agreement was set to expire in February 2023. However, the parties who signed the peace agreement agreed to extend it to February 2025 in order to address peace reforms.

That front requires more work due to the injustices committed against South Sudan’s people by the military and rebel forces. For example, a U.N. peacekeeping mission in 2021 documented the killings of 440 civilians and the rapes of 64 women and girls in Tombuura by the SPLA/IO. None of the perpetrators were held accountable.

U.N. Special Representative for South Sudan Nicholas Haysom expressed the need for South Sudan’s government to address violence and uphold justice. In a speech to the U.N. Security Council, Haysom addressed the extension to the peace agreement and stated that it is a roadmap that should serve as a  waypoint, not an endpoint. The reforms that the South Sudanese government makes should serve as a means to generate long-lasting stability. They should not serve as a means to an end. It requires measures to prevent setbacks or gains from reservation. Haysom also reaffirmed the importance of international assistance, which will lead to poverty reduction and governmental stability in South Sudan.

Addressing Poverty

While the outlook for South Sudan may seem grim, there are solutions to poverty that various charities are implementing through foreign aid. The World Food Programme (WFP) is one example of an organization working to bring peace to feuding groups in South Sudan by addressing food insecurity. In an article about the Malual Mok and Thony communities, the WFP demonstrates its poverty reduction and peacekeeping efforts. Both the Malual Mok and Thony live in an agricultural area called Majak-Kot. The communities previously considered each other enemies, but a series of agricultural projects from the WFP helped to foster a sense of community between them. Instead of fighting over the land and competing to grow food, both communities peacefully coexist and grow food together for mutual benefit.

Moreover, nonprofit charities are also working towards poverty reduction in South Sudan. Many South Sudanese refugees founded charities dedicated to poverty reduction in South Sudan. One example is Helping Hands for South Sudan. Gabriel Akim Nyok, one of the “Lost Boys and Girls of Sudan,” a group of thousands of orphaned children who became refugees to escape from the civil war, founded this charity. After staying in the U.S. for five years, Nyok returned to Sudan in 2011 to visit the South Sudanese refugee camps. In doing so, he became determined to give the children the same opportunity for education that he received. Nyok and his charity have helped put South Sudanese refugee children through school each year. Helping Hands uses donations to put children through school and pay for their education and works directly with South Sudanese communities to improve schools and education.

– Matthew Wikfors
Photo: Flickr