Responses to COVID-19 in South Sudan
Although the spread of COVID-19 in South Sudan offers the opportunity for much-needed solidarity in the face of a new threat, it also risks engendering and exacerbating existing divides, contributing to the continuation of conflict, while at the same time undermining confidence in the peace process and recently formed government. The purpose of this project is to capitalize on the positive opportunities provided by the virus to promote peaceful co-existence, social cohesion and combat stigmatization, engendering the cooperation needed to limit and respond effectively to the spread of the disease. It will do so by training women and youth-led community-based organizations (CBOs) on mediation, conflict resolution and negotiation, as well as support them in encouraging messages of solidarity and in combating hate speech. The project will also create media platforms for CBOs and the communities that they represent to interface with relevant government bodies regarding the COVID-19 response, including the National Task Force and the Ministry of Health. Accordingly, it will have a strong focus on strategic communication and will support research and innovative practice that explores how communication technology can best be leveraged to improve participatory approaches to peacebuilding. Target beneficiaries encompass community members residing in urban and peri-urban environments with a specific focus on internally displaced persons (IDPs) and returnees, as well as other vulnerable groups, such as persons with disabilities and the elderly. The National Task Force on the COVID-19 Pandemic and Ministry of Health at the national and sub-national levels will also benefit from the project by enabling them to interact with, and respond to the needs of communities, as will the CBOs who will be provided with capacity building and support. The project will be implemented directly by WRO in collaboration with CBOs who will be provided with capacity building, contributing to the localization of the COVID-19 response and helping agencies reduce their footprint in the long-term. Training will be provided in line with WRO’s Key IPC/WASH Protocols for Community Meetings: Measures to minimize risks of COVID-19 transmissions and media and technology will be utilized to create platforms for dialogue; Locations include areas where WRO has a strong, existing operational presence to ease delivery of the project and are urban where the spread of the virus is likely to be much more devastating. These locations are Juba, Bentiu, Wau.