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South Sudan: REACH and WASH Cluster conduct baseline assessment

South Sudan is faced with a myriad of challenges, some of which arise from historical marginalization, poverty and under-development, others are driven by more recent events, including the conflict which began in December 2013. Today, more than 2.3 million people – one in every five people in South Sudan – have been forced to flee their homes since the conflict began, including 1.66 million internally displaced people (IDPs).

In September of 2015, the South Sudan WASH Cluster, along with the humanitarian community across the country, undertook the Humanitarian Needs Overview (HNO) process in order to quantify the overall needs and vulnerabilities of the population affected by crises. It was this process that brought to light the large WASH-specific data gap across South Sudan, more specifically the fact that the various assessment formats that WASH actors used to collect baseline data were incompatible and incomparable and could not be analysed against each other. This lack of inter-operable data made it challenging to quantify needs and more importantly, to rank the severity of the WASH situation in the different administrative areas.

To address this information gap, REACH Assessment Specialist, which supports the global WASH Cluster, was deployed to South Sudan in order to support the country WASH Cluster to harmonize assessments between the various partners by developing a baseline assessment tool. This tool was designed to collect the minimum amount of data necessary in order to assess the WASH needs and vulnerabilities at the household level. The tool was finalized and a pilot was set for Akobo County – located in the north-eastern part of Jonglei State and severely hit by insecurity as a result of the attempted coup of December 2013. The first half of data collection took place between January 25th and 29th 2016 and covered the eastern part of the Akobo County, namely Bilkey, Dengjok, Gakdong and Nyandit payams.

Through this pilot of the baseline assessment, REACH, along with WASH Cluster partners, found that although more than half of the assessed population reported having access to a safe drinking water source (63%) through boreholes, 86% of them did not meet the Sphere Standard of 15 litres per person per day, mainly due to lack of water containers (79%), and 89% of respondents reported not treating their drinking water. Furthermore,  78% of households did not have access to a latrine, only 23% of assessed households reported having soap at the time of the assessment and a mere 6% of respondents reported washing their hands at all critical times, generally with water alone (65%). Overall, the findings of the report point to the fact that activities aiming at inducing behavioural changes with regards to WASH practices and attitudes should be implemented in Akobo East, particularly with regards to hand washing practices, open defecation and treatment of water. Coupled with distribution of WASH items such as soap and most importantly water containers, these activities would likely contribute to the improvement of the WASH situation in the Akobo East area.

Moving forward, WASH Cluster partners will adopt the common baseline assessment tool developed by REACH, which will allow the WASH sector to have comparable information and a stronger evidence as a basis for the planning, the implementation and the prioritisation of the WASH response in South Sudan. To read the report click here

Akobo County, South Sudan

Libya: Displacement in Sirte and IDP Needs Assessment and Protection Monitoring

In April/May 2016 fresh clashes in Sirte triggered a new wave of displacement forcing thousands more residents to flee. Following this recent displacement of IDPs to the West of Sirte, REACH conducted a rapid IDP protection needs assessment in partnership with UNHCR to identify the main needs and priorities of IDPs.

REACH found that in terms of protection, risk of injury or death by small arms was reported as a major protection concerns for IDPs. Regarding shelter, mattresses, blankets, kitchen items and warm clothes were identified as being top priority shelter-related NFI’s for IDPs. Concerning WASH, the primary source of drinking water for IDPs was the main network (85%) followed by bottled water (11%) and water trucking (3%). For more details please refer to the report here.

Prior to this assessment, in February 2016 REACH undertook an IDP Protection Monitoring assessment, in partnership with UNHCR, across the whole of Libya. The main objectives of the assessment were to contribute to the creation of a rights environment for IDPs living in Libya by facilitating a targeted and evidence-based humanitarian response and identifying priority needs in UNHCR’s core sectors of intervention, Protection and Shelter. There was also a capacity building element to the assessment – empowering local actors from Local Crisis Committees by improving their ability to understand the needs of their community through data collection and IDP rights and protection training.

Key findings were as follows:

  • Protection: Overall, IDPs were indicated to be at risk of a wide range protection concerns. Key protection concerns for IDPs in Libya were identified as loss of documentation, given that Libyan IDPs in transit are at higher risk of losing or leaving behind important legal documents, and the reported prevalence of landmines/UXO in the community, particularly in the East, with almost half of all respondents (48%) indicating this danger, compared to 25% in the South and 10% in the West.
  • Shelter: A particularly high risk of eviction was reported in the East of Libya, with 80% of respondents indicating that some population groups could be evicted during the next 30 days, compared to 55% in the South and 26% in the West, putting IDP families in a precarious shelter situation as they were reported by 87% of respondents to be the population group most at risk of eviction.

Moving forward, the humanitarian response must take into account the increased vulnerability of IDPs due to loss of income and income-producing opportunities and other means to meet their essential needs, giving rise to an “impoverishment risk”. What is more, IDPs living in rented urban accommodation rather than camps or public spaces who are less visible to humanitarian actors must be more systematically included in relief efforts.

South Sudan: A multi-sectorial snapshots of hard-to-reach areas

Conflict broke out in South Sudan in December 2013. Due to its localised tribal dynamics and natural resources the Greater Upper Nile Region – Jonglei, Unity and Upper Nile States – has been most affected by the conflict. In response to the high levels of displacement, as well as destruction of personal and private property in these states, OFDA and SDC have funded REACH to assess hard to reach areas across the Greater Upper Nile Region. To share the findings of this assessment with the humanitarian community, REACH publishes monthly situation overviews (SO).  These will evolve across a 12 month period to comprehensively document displacement trends and changing humanitarian needs in the region. To date, a baseline Situation Overview and three updates Situation Overviews for Unity State have been published.

The baseline outlined displacement patterns of IDPs in the state, assessing the pre-crisis and current humanitarian situation in communities with regard to access to basic services, food availability, and presence of livelihood opportunities. Primary data, collected in December 2015 from Bentui PoC and UN House PoCs, triangulated with prior REACH findings and secondary data, was compiled to construct a comprehensive baseline.

Following the completion of the Unity State baseline, monthly Situation Overviews have evolved from tracking shifts between current and pre-crisis conditions, to providing an overview of key monthly changes in the state’s displacement trends and humanitarian needs. Forthcoming Situation Overviews for Jonglei and Upper Nile State, will follow a similar trajectory.

Upon completion of the baseline in all three states, the focus of the Situation Overviews will shift to identify key points of similarity and differences between the three areas. Monthly cross analysis of trends in each county and state will create an understanding of the evolution of displacement and humanitarian needs across the Greater Upper Nile Region to be viewed in a single Situation Overview. This broader overview will allow for a better understanding of how the coordinated humanitarian response in South Sudan can meet the needs of local communities and IDPs, as well as respond to those of IDPs returning to their home territories or resettling in new ones.

Image: IDPs, displaced by cattle raiding to an island in the Sudd, split cane to make sleeping mats

Iraq: Quarterly Profiling of 36 IDP Camps

The current Iraqi internal displacement crisis originated with conflict in Anbar governorate between Armed Groups and the Iraq Security Forces in late 2013, rapidly spreading to Ninewa and other central governorates of Iraq in June 2014. The spread of insecurity led to large scale displacement with nearly 3.5 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) identified across Iraq and 322,346 individuals registered in the 59 formal camps in Iraq as of April 2016.

To monitor these camps comprehensively and inform a more effective humanitarian response, REACH and the CCCM Cluster have been conducting Quarterly IDP Camp Profiling that aims to provide regular and updated information on developments, needs, and gaps in all accessible IDP camps across Iraq. Round V of the Quarterly IDP Camp Profiling round was conducted in April 2016, during which REACH assessed 36 formally recognized IDP camps across Iraq.

A mixed-methodological approach was used for the profiling, incorporating household-level surveys in each assessed IDP camp, Key Informant interviews with each camp manager, satellite imagery analysis, and participatory mapping. Data collection took place during 5-25 April 2016 with a total of 3,106 households assessed across 36 camps in Baghdad, Dahuk, Diyala, Erbil, Kerbala, Missan, Ninewa and Sulaymaniyah governorates.

Key findings from the April round of data collection indicate that access to livelihoods is a significant issue for many IDP households residing in camps: 34% of households reported that no household members had earned an income in the 30 days prior to the assessment. Medical supplies and access to healthcare was also reported as a growing need. Throughout the camps, 55% of households reported needing healthcare treatment in the 30 days prior to the assessment; representing an increase of 33% compared to September 2015.

Findings were disseminated by the CCCM cluster and REACH  in the form of a Quarterly IDP Camp Directory, which includes individual camp profiles and camp infrastructure maps for each assessed camp. The profiles include key sectoral findings in relation to core CCCM and SPHERE standards; information collected from camp management and updated infrastructure maps.

This project provides key information on IDP camps in Iraq at an operational and strategic level. Humanitarian actors and decision makers can use the findings for planning, sector prioritization and programme development. To access the full directory, click here.

Image:  Essian Camp, April 2016: ©Rezgar Mohmood Hassan, 2016

Jordan: Improving Understanding of Syrian and Jordanian Women’s Livelihoods and Workforce Participation

During the “Supporting Syria and the Region” donor conference held in London in February 2016, a number of donor governments, multilateral donors and the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan concluded the “Jordan Compact”. This compact offers a new approach to the refugee situation in Jordan – where Jordan aims to allow 200,000 refugees to work in specified sectors. Governments and multilateral donors have made large-scale pledges to support the compact and a range of initiatives have since sought to ease and promote the economic inclusion of Syrian refugees – both women and men. Meanwhile, efforts are also being made to ease the burden on the host community through the creation of job opportunities for Jordanian men and women.

Despite this, very little information currently exists on the economic activity of Syrian and Jordanian women, as well as on attitudes towards employment in either the private or public sphere. To address this gap, UN Women and REACH are conducting an assessment aimed at understanding Syrian and Jordanian women’s labour force participation, factors that might hinder this participation and the conditions under which women would work either inside or outside the home. The ongoing assessment combines a quantitative component, consisting of a nation-wide, representative telephone survey of over 500 Syrian and Jordanian women, with a qualitative element consisting of focus group discussions (FGDs). The purpose of FGDs will be to contextualise and further explore the challenges which Syrian and Jordanian women might be facing in accessing livelihoods, as well as potential ways to overcome these.

With this snap shot assessment UN Women in collaboration with REACH seeks to ensure that the realities and needs of Syrian and Jordanian women are better understood and adequately taken into account in ongoing livelihoods discussions. The ultimate aim is to contribute to a gender-sensitive evidence-based approach to guide the large-scale livelihood initiatives which are currently under development and those that will be rolled out in the coming years.

Image: REACH enumerators conducting a call centre interviewing over 500 Syrian and Jordanian women on the topic of livelihoods and employment


Philippines: Households struggle to rebuild safe homes more than two years after Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda)

When Typhoon Haiyan, locally known as Yolanda, reached the Eastern Visayas region of the Philippines on 8 November 2013, it was the strongest typhoon ever recorded to make landfall and the deadliest in Philippine history – killing over 6,000 people and leaving millions homeless. Given the large scale destruction of homes and livelihoods, shelter formed a significant part of the humanitarian response that followed.

To inform the development of the Shelter Cluster Strategy and monitor changing needs over time, REACH conducted three assessments in 2013 and 2014 on behalf of the Shelter Cluster in the Philippines. Following deactivation of the Philippines Shelter Cluster in October 2014, REACH conducted a final assessment aimed to examine the outcome of the large-scale response and assess the characteristics influencing shelter recovery – including safety, adequacy, accessibility and appropriateness.

Overall, REACH found that the large majority of households attempted to build back safer, with evidence pointing to an uptake of Build Back Safer (BBS) practices and standards. Techniques seemed most likely to be prioritised where community members had been able to observe their effectiveness during the Typhoon: ‘Everybody saw roofs fly apart, we now see people with three types of tie-down and cross-bracing everywhere’ as explained by an aid worker of a Shelter agency.

However, numerous challenges persist:

  • Conflict between recovery standards for shelter safety, adequacy, accessibility and appropriateness often made it difficult for households to determine what should be prioritised with their available resources. It was better to achieve some standards than none at all, yet, there was limited information available to help households prioritise based on a better understanding of the potential risk and consequences of their decision.
  • Lack of safe land near services and livelihoods in coastal areas prevented many households from achieving safe and adequate shelters.
  • Lack of access to safe sites hindered households from building back safer homes on multiple levels: by excluding them from the most durable housing assistance, while legally preventing them from building strong structures on current sites considered unsafe and often officially declared as ‘no build zones.’
  • Households that were able to secure a safe site highlighted the cost of BBS techniques as a key barrier to building back safer.

In future responses, an understanding of need for increased flexibility and specialist advice to help households prioritise standards could increase the uptake of BBS techniques and avoid the perception among poorer households that a safer shelter is entirely out of their reach.

To read REACH’s recommendations based on findings from this assessment access the full report here.

REACH releases its 2015 Activity Report

REACH just released its 2015 Activity Report, providing an overview of the work conducted by REACH teams in 2015 across 17 countries.

The report provides example of assessments, monitoring and evaluation activities coordinated and implemented by REACH under its three pillars: 1. Planning in emergencies 2. Understanding displacement and 3. Accessing community resilience.

In 2015 alone, REACH teams informed decision and policy makers in over 17 countries in crisis, by producing 561 maps, 155 Factsheets, 65 reports, 22 Situation Overviews, 12 Web Maps and 5 Interactive Dashboards.

These products directly informed key humanitarian milestones, such as the Humanitarian Needs Overviews and Humanitarian Response Plans in Syria, Iraq, South Sudan, Somalia, Libya, Ukraine, Nepal, Vanuatu and Jordan, as well as cluster and agency-specific response plans.

We would like to thank our donors and partners for the support and joint efforts throughout 2015, which allowed us to provide strong evidence as a basis for more efficient coordination and delivery of aid.


Somalia: Informing drought response in the Somaliland and Puntland States

Cumulative and prolonged droughts in Somalia have been exacerbated by the breakdown in civil administration over the last 25 years in many areas of the country, and more recently by the changing global environment, especially the el-Nino weather system. Most recently, 3 seasons of below average rainfall have contributed to an emerging drought situation in the north of Somalia. According to rainfall monitoring from the Somalia Water and Land Information Management (SWALIM) and population estimates from Worldpop, 5 million people are living in areas currently experiencing drought in the Somaliland and Puntland states of northern Somalia.

In response to this slow-onset crisis, REACH was deployed to initiate a Somalia Rapid Needs Assessment (SIRNA) for OCHA and the Inter-Cluster Coordination Group (ICCG) at the request of the WASH Cluster Somalia in March 2016. With data collection taking place between March and April 2016, the SIRNA consisted of a sampled household assessment covering 1210 households in Somaliland and Puntland, 124 Key Informant Interviews and mapping 649 facilities and services.

The assessment highlighted the need for livelihood support to enable recovery, with pastoralism dependent communities having reported high rates of livestock loss – 79% of households in Puntland and 73% of households in Somaliland. In the event of continued drought immediate support to water resources will be required, with 18% of households in Puntland and 30% in Somaliland reported a water availability below the SPHERE minimum emergency standard of 7.5 litres per household member per day. Furthermore the dependence of 74% of households on uncovered water sources and limited use of household or community level water treatment – raises concerns about access to safe drinking water. Households also raised access to healthcare as a major concern, with over half of households in both Puntland and Somaliland reporting that they experienced a reduced ability to access health services since the drought began, especially in remote communities where travel to centralized services can be expensive.

With initial responses ongoing, findings from the SIRNA will be used to inform the second-stage response and recovery from the ongoing drought conditions in the Somaliland and Puntland. Initial findings highlight the need for combined cross-sector responses, greater information dissemination to those affected by drought and the recalibration of assistance to all drought affected areas. Preliminary findings factsheets for each of the states assessed and 8 regions of Somaliland and Puntland can be accessed here. To access the full SIRNA report, click here.

Image by SIRNA assessment team