CRS pledges to empower communities reduce suffering, accelerate peace

CRS pledges to empower communities reduce suffering, accelerate peace
CRS pledges to empower communities reduce suffering, accelerate peace

Africa-Press – South-Sudan. The Catholic Relief Services – CRS has pledged to empower communities reduce suffering and accelerate peace, equity and sustainable development as it launches its five-year strategic plan for 2024 – 2028.

The new CRS South Sudan Country program strategy carries a vision where they want to see women, men, girls and boys thrive in cohesive and resilient communities where they have equitable access to services and opportunities to achieve their full health and development.

“Today we are launching an ambitious five-year country’s strategy where we are recommitting to our mission on services accompaniment even in the face of many challenges that this country is facing,” Hopewell Zheke, the CRS Country Representative said during the launch in Juba on Tuesday.

He says the new strategic plan was developed following a wide range of consultations with local communities, the partners to tackle the real challenges facing the local population.

“This strategy is a result of extensive consultation with communities here in South Sudan with our donors, with our partners, the Catholic church and also decades of experience working here in South Sudan.”

“This represents our blueprint for the next five years which outlined our strategic priorities, in support of the people of South Sudan. It highlights our plans and commitment to tackle challenges, together with our partners and with support from our donors, we will collaborate to achieve transformational change at scale,” Mr Hopewell added.

CRS has operated in South Sudan since 1983 and has supported the people of South Sudan for over 40 years with emergency assistance and conflict mitigation amidst a period of prolonged civil war.

In advance of South Sudan’s independence in July 2011, CRS says it increased its assistance to basic service delivery and scaled efforts to strengthen civil society and reduce the potential for conflict during the referendum.

Over the past years, the agency said it has mobilized between $40 to $80 million each year to assist over one million South Sudanese population.

CRS currently implement projects on food security and livelihoods, water, sanitation and hygiene, health and nutrition, microfinance, adult literacy, trauma awareness, social cohesion, disaster risk reduction in addition to emergency response in the country.

“This strategy expresses the renewal of our commitment to accompany families and communities on our journey towards a brighter future,” the CRS Country Representative said.

“We recognize many incredible opportunities to empower communities and enhance effective local leadership to serve lives, reduce suffering and accelerate peace, justice, equity and sustainable development.”

“We believe that transforming these opportunities into sustained impact depends upon protecting all members of the community especially vulnerable groups such as women, the youth and persons with disabilities and empowering them to fully participate and lead their own development,” Hopewell stressed.

Hopewell Zheke went on to say for them to achieve their vision, CRS will embark on building community through agriculture and access to essential services in the next five years.

He says CRS will also continue to build a long-term presence while supporting grassroots peace initiatives, and humanitarianism to enable communities to become self-reliant.

“To achieve this we will focus on building community resilience through integrated and leered interventions in food security, agriculture and livelihood, social cohesion, access to essential services.”

“We will continue to build our acceptance through a long-term presence in communities we serve, working across peace, humanitarian and pivoting effectively between emergency response, recovery and resilience building to support these communities on their journey towards self-reliance.”

The CRS South Sudan Country Program Strategy 2024 – 2028

CRS believes that transforming opportunities into sustained impact in South Sudan requires protecting communities, especially women, youth, and persons with disabilities, and empowering them to fully participate and lead their own development.

In the next five years, the humanitarian agency says it will embark on eight key thematic areas it refers to as signature program areas or SPA.

Through Agriculture, Livelihood and Resilience, CRS says it will use its leadership to drive sustainable impact by building food-secure and resilient families and communities in South Sudan.

Under the emergency response, the agency said it will provide high quality and timely emergency response to be implemented within their operational areas to save lives, reduce suffering and promote resilience.

Meanwhile, through the social cohesion, CRS says it will work to ensure that communities and local structures are empowered to reduce and prevent intra and inter-communal violence.

It will also help in enhancing stability and cohesion and strengthen tolerance and respect for diverse groups leading to more just, peaceful and resilient communities.

The CRS South Sudan’s country program strategy, signature program area number four is Equitable Access to basic Health, Nutrition and WASH services.

Under this thematic area, it wants to see communities have equitable access to essential services contributing to the realization of their full health and development potential.

Besides these signature program areas, the official international humanitarian agency of the Catholic Community says it will consider four other cross-cutting priorities during the implementation of the 2024 – 2028 strategic plan.

This includes gender integration where it intends to embark on a program that enhances gender-responsive and transformative approaches to promote gender equality and women’s empowerment within the communities they serve as preconditions for effective and sustainable development.

This is in addition to Youth Engagement where CRS want to see young people are economically empowered and engaged to participate fully in their communities and society by acting positively on issues that they define as important.

Others include cash and market-based programming, where it believes in the effective and innovative use of cash and market-based interventions at scale across sectors which will enable the most vulnerable to access services.

Cash and market-based programming, and safe and dignified programming are other signature program where the agency wants communities to have safe and dignified access to assistance and effective and innovative use of cash and market-based intervention.

The intervention

Yembeh Marah, the Head of CRS’s Programming says the agency will use its diversity and experience to ensure the strategy is realized at the grassroots level of the country.

He says CRS will strengthen a culture of respect, equity, diversity and inclusion as it implements the new strategy in five years.

“We believe that we must cultivate our diverse and experienced to deliver this strategy at the lowest level but the active resource we have, we have the right people on the ground to ensure that they reach out and then we will also strengthen a culture of respect, equity, diversity and inclusion and this is intentional,” Yembeh Marah said.

“We will continue to make significant strive we have our team members across the who work in most remote places,” he added.

South Sudan faces numerous challenges with the humanitarian situation continuing to deteriorate with more than half of the country’s population depending on assistance, according to the aid agencies.

CRS says social and political instability, insecure and inadequate livelihoods, lack of access to basic services and frequent overlapping shocks such as violence, flooding and displacement hinder delivery of aid to vulnerable communities in the country.

“We believe that irrespective of the challenges, this aspect of our work will help us overcome the high rate of malnutrition and food insecurity in this country over the next years and key outcomes that would pursue between this strategic framework are all lively means towards ensuring that we maximize agriculture production.”

“We have seen across some states that we work in South Sudan that yes it is possible while we believe that farmers have challenges, we believe that if we adopt climate-smart livelihood options and then embark on natural resources management practices, as an agency along with our partners, we defiantly are sure that we can maximize access to essential food that people to overcome the current challenges,” Yembeh Marah stressed.

Meanwhile, the CRS’s Regional Director for the East Africa Regional Office, Matt Davis said “Our programming in South Sudan reflects our global agencies signature program areas towards the ability to reach individual to realize his or her full human potential is achieved and sustain to just, peaceful relationships at the loving environment.”

For her part, Kristina Ortiz the USAID office Director, office of humanitarian assistance said;

“There are many challenges at the moment in South Sudan but also great potential, strength and resilience in the South Sudanese people. With a small degree of stability, local communities can prosper, and realize their creativity and ingenuity in creating local solutions.”

“People can start farms to feed their families and neighbours, entrepreneurs can establish their businesses and build up local markets and children can obtain information.”

“USAID and CRS’s programs are only a starting point. We look to the transitional government also contribute by taking responsibility for meeting the needs of the South Sudanese people and stepping up its contribution to revive basic services and assistance.”

“We also call on the government to work on improving security conditions throughout South Sudan to ensure the protection of the civilian beneficiaries we are helping, facilitate humanitarian operations and create a secure environment for development actors’ commercial traders and a long-term initiative to meet the need of South Sudan population.”

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