Since its registration in 2009, Lacha Community and Economic Development (LCED) has been providing emergency services in the Greater Equatoria Region of South Sudan, distribution of life-sustaining Non-Food Items (NFIs), construction of life-saving emergency shelters, hygiene promotion campaigns, revitalization of local market economy with cash-based interventions, mapping and rehabilitation of community assets (water points and sanitation facilities), and capacity building of affected communities.
Over the past two years, the nature and complexity of our interventions has changed significantly, largely because of our experiences and lessons learned through our continuous monitoring and research that resulted in with new innovations to address the emerging issues with a contextual sensitivity. The new wave of the recent revitalized peace agreement of South Sudan also called for more flexibility and a shift from emergency to recovery, to development efforts.
In 2018/2019 LCED’s interventions aimed at promoting peace and attacking the root causes of poverty, such as gender and ethnic discrimination, so that more vulnerable individuals, especially women and Persons with Specific Needs (PSN) could access basic shelter, household items, Water and Sanitation services, and hard-skills trainings, enhancing their protection, hygiene, dignity and realize their full potential. Additionally, such interventions continuously focused on prevention of Gender-Based Violence, supporting marginalized people, especially women and girls, to take control of their ﬁnances and become self-reliant, and removing any obstacle to accessing health, education or other services, related to their gender.
It is for these efforts that during the three day National NGO and citizens’ exposition 2019 (28th-30th November 2019), LCED was awarded a recognition certificate from the NGO Forum of South Sudan for “Most Courageous Initiative”.
In line with the event’s team “Peace and Stability for Sustainable Development” LCED showcased its best efforts in the sectors of Emergency Shelter and Non-Food Items (ES/NFI) and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), including innovative initiatives such as mixed cash and in-kind modalities, and engagement of the community in all stages of the project cycle, under the Accountability to the Affected Population (AAP) principle.
Planned interventions were also presented, including Income-Generating Activities (IGA), integrated WASH-FSL-ES/NFI response and Cash-Based Interventions to foster socio-economic recovery and resilience, in line with the LCED strategy 2019-2024 to shift from emergency to recovery and development in South Sudan.
The LCED management wish to thank our current and previous staff, which made it possible for the organization’s work in 2019 to have such a great impact. Particularly, a special thanks goes to our previous M&E Officer, Sherrie Lilian Rutandaro, which greatly helped LCED to become a model organization, through the implementation of innovating interventions tailored to the community’s needs, setting the right example for other NNGOs to make a great impact through their work.
An appreciation also go to our staff which took part to the NNGO exposition (Morgan Wani, Program Assistant-M&E, and Gloria Lusi Gulliver, Communication Volunteer) for their efforts in presenting the work of LCED to donors, partners and citizens of South Sudan, making it possible to showcase our best efforts and results.
Finally, we wish to thank our partners and donors, including UNDP, UNHCR, IOM, USAID/OFDA, UNICEF and UN OCHA, and the Government of South Sudan, without which none of our achievement would have been possible. At the same time, LCED would like to thank its operating partners, including a wide range of national and international NGOs. The technical and financial support received from partners and donors during the years have helped LCED shape its work and assist the most vulnerable individuals in remote areas of South Sudan with quality service. This is not taken for granted, and we pledge our quality service through transparency and accountability.
Yei County, CES State (South Sudan) September 2019 - Margaret (Not her real name) is a mother of four children and expecting her fifth child anytime soon. She has currently returned to her now ‘empty’ and destroyed home in Mugwo County after having fled in the 2016 political conflict between government and opposition forced that displaced thousands of the population to the neighboring counties and countries. Her eyes are filled with sadness when she narrates her ordeal and yet beams with smile at the look of the many items currently under her possession. “I can’t believe that all this belongs to me. I never envisioned myself living a life of a human being again, now I believe God answers prayers!” She shares her joy.
For a long time, Margaret has lived an unhappy life since she returned back to her village with no basic necessities, no source of livelihood and lack of a functional market. As an expectant mother, she narrates her ordeal; “I did not own a bucket to fetch or collect water or even soap to wash our clothes and was very worried how I would manage after delivery”. She also said that at times her family would borrow water collecting cans from the neighbors, who would sometimes refuse making them spend days without water in the house, resorting to direct use of water from an open source, including washing and bathing which was unsafe, risky and unhealthy.
In order to improve the sanitation and hygiene of conflict affected population, in August 2019 LCED through South Sudan Humanitarian Fund distributed WASH NFIs that included dignity kits, buckets, soap, and water treatment tabs among others, to restore the dignity and save lives of 216 vulnerable households (1010 individuals) in Mugwo Payam, Yei County (Central Equatoria State of South Sudan). The response of the population to the item distribution was quite positive, as many testimonies such as Margaret’s proved. “I can once again live a life of a human being!” she concludes.
Photo taken by LCED in September 2019 after intervention
Marakonye Primary School is situated 3 miles from Yei Center, on Yei road, in Yei County, Central Equatoria State of South Sudan. With the current total population of 120 pupils, Marokonye P/S just like any other schools and public facilities was severely destroyed by the 2016 political conflict, worsened by the recent 2018 conflict originated between the government and opposition forces. The school buildings, including water and sanitation facilities, were heavily destroyed and abandoned as tens of thousands of people were forced to flee the area is search for safety in the neighbouring counties, states and even across borders of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of Congo.
The signing of the Revitalised Peace Agreement (October 2018) that is bearing ‘fruits of hope’ -and its full implementation that has been of utmost significance for the country through the creation of a more stable political environment- allowed the displaced populations to return back to their homes, as well as improved delivery of humanitarian assistance to these most vulnerable populations. Therefore, it is therefore now the role of humanitarian partners to work with returning population, including their hosts, and support them rebuild their lives through appropriate yet sustainable recovery approaches.
Lacha Community and Economic Development (LCED) a South Sudan National NGO is mandated to save and preserve life, to promote dignity and enhance resilience of vulnerable people, and it envisions a situation where all individuals irrespective or gender, religion, tribe and political affiliation have a good quality of life and high living standards, coexist peacefully and enjoy their fundamental human rights. Through South Sudan Humanitarian Fund Allocation (2018 to 2019), LCED is happy to share its milestone in impacting on lives of pupils and the community at large of Marakonye Primary School.
When Marakonye Primary School was reopened at the beginning of the year, to give chance to children who had to walk long distances in search for available education, little did the community had a solution to the appalling water and sanitation conditions of this school and the neighbouring community as a whole. Unsafe and dirty water from a bushy surrounded borehole is what was left in Marakonye community. This was not only posing a health hazard, but also raised security and protection concerns of children and women through use of unclean water and accessing an unprotected water point.
Guided by the Accountability to Affected Population (AAP) principle of community engagement and participation (for ownership and sustainability), LCED acted very fast to save these lives and through a community consultative meeting (attended by women, men, local leaders and children), Marakonye P/S was selected to benefit from the planned intervention of the repairing of non-functional communal boreholes.
LCED Staff during assessment of boreholes at Marakonye P/S in July 2019 Tools delivered to PTA/WMC at Marakonye P/S in July 2019
The Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) of Marakonye P/S accepted the responsibility of managing the borehole as a Water Management Committee, and was trained as such by the LCED staff, in order to to ensure the longevity of the communal borehole and its proper use.
LCED provided materials and tools to the PTA/WMC, to be used for borehole rehabilitation, including cylinder assembly, riser pipes, connecting rods, head assembly, water tanks, spare parts and toolkits. The PTA/WMC members mobilized the community to clear the bush and clean around the water source, and agreed on how to communally manage the borehole to ensure it serves the community in the long term, while they will also continue monitoring the state of the borehole and making minor repairs.
Marakonye P/S once again breathed life of clean water in a safe environment as testified by the Headmaster of the school Alex Wani Daniel, ‘We are grateful that our students especially can access clean drinking water. We can now teach them about the importance of hand washing before and after using a latrine with confidence!’
LCED hopes that this borehole will enable over 500 individuals within Yei County to access clean water in a safer and secure environment, while reducing health risks associated with water borne diseases. Moreover, it has reduced congestion on other boreholes that was not only time consuming in terms of waiting hours, but also a probable cause of conflict at water points between women/youth or returnee/displaced populations and their host.
Great thanks goes to UN OCHA for financing this project through the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund, allowing LCED to save lives and restore dignity; to the local authorities for their facilitation and community mobilization; the WASH Clusters for endearing technical guidance, approvals and support, humanitarian partners for information and resource sharing; and lastly the community we serve for believing in and working closely with us to rebuild our communities in South Sudan.
Transparency is the foundation of accountability and a pre-requisite to a functioning Complaint and Feedback Mechanisms (CFMs). Lacha Community and Economic Development (LCED) adheres to the principle of Accountability to Affected Populations (AAP) that includes among others “Communication with Communities”. LCED implements this through an agreed and appropriate Complaint and Feedback Mechanism. This approach strengthens humanitarian partners to be accountable to the communities they serve, by providing a channel for community members to easily ask questions, suggestions and concerns about aid activities, and have agreed protocols for action to be taken in response, as well provide feedback on project activities.
Thanks to the support of the WASH Cluster, through numerous AAP capacity building sessions, LCED was able to successfully establish a CFM at community level in Yei County, Central Equatoria State of South Sudan. Such mechanism was manned by locally identified Village Representation Committees (including representatives of different vulnerable groups within the community) who, supported by local authorities, would register or address any complaints or feedback raised about project activities. The LCED project team briefed the communities about the planned project activities, services to expect, targeting criteria and what is expected of the community and the implementing partners, so that they would later be in position to provide feedback on.
Through a gender-sensitive CFM in the recently completed WASH Project (SSHF SA1 2019), LCED was able to identify and address gaps in the beneficiary selection and community participation to different activities, through community meetings and monitoring visits. Therefore, we were able to respond to our stakeholders including the local authorities, in case of any unintended concerns related to our project activities, we were able improve them to better meet the needs of communities today and in the future.
As a humanitarian organization, we also feel that with evidence- based data collected through CFMs that forms part of our reporting and resource mobilization, we can confidently speak on behalf of communities and adjust our interventions accordingly to better meet the needs of the population. Moreover, our belief is that we are not perfect and always willing to adjust and improve our interventions. We also exhibit our commitment, dedication and responsiveness to the needs of those we serve and we work to prevent further conflict stemming from unanswered questions, which can easily damage the reputation of the organization.
‘Putting the community at the center during humanitarian interventions encourages participation, ownership and sustainability’. This is a living testimony for Nagero local authorities during a focus group discussion held in April 2019. They shared that LCED staff consulted with them right from the start of the project and were involved in verifying and registering households for assistance, monitoring of project activities, providing information on safety and access of the selected distribution centers as well as ensuring there is order and calmness during distributions. The RRC Nagero said, ‘we supported wherever possible and we continue to provide any related information about the project because we were fully involved and know exactly what and how it happened’. It is very important for humanitarian partners to also utilize the local authorities as avenues for collecting feedback about their response as well as addressing some complaints raised if they are engaged.