South Sudan enters its fifth year of political crisis, stemming from violent conflict erupting in Juba in December 2013. The dynamic and multi-faceted nature of the South Sudanese displacement crisis has created significant challenges for humanitarian information management. Accessibility and security issues within South Sudan have impeded systematic data collection efforts, limiting the effectiveness of humanitarian planning and implementation. As evidenced in the Leer 2017 famine declaration, people in hard-to-reach locations, with limited humanitarian access, are often the worst-affected population. Consequently it becomes increasingly critical to ensure we are monitoring closely the humanitarian needs of populations living in conflict-affected and inaccessible areas.
To monitor humanitarian needs and displacement of populations living in hard-to-reach areas, REACH conducts remote data collection using the “Area of Knowledge (AoK)” methodology from areas inside South Sudan where access to direct regular primary data collection is not possible, as well as direct primary data collection in secure and accessible locations. In early 2016, REACH began AoK data collection in Jonglei and Unity (former) state. In recognition of the urgent need for data in the Greater Equatorias and Bahr el Ghazals for IPC analysis, REACH expanded data collection in Upper Nile, Western Bahr el Ghazal and the Equatorias in January 2017. As of February 2018, AoK data is collected from 14 field locations in South Sudan, assessing 9 out of the 10 states (see below for more details). Humanitarian information is currently collected at the settlement (village/neighborhood) level in areas identified with ongoing violence or deepening food insecurity, through a network of key informants (KIs).
The AoK approach provides regular, reliable indicative tracking of humanitarian needs over time, to support in prioritization and identification of “hot-spot” areas witnessing a deterioration of humanitarian needs. To ensure this data is directly informing humanitarian response planning, data is shared through formal coordination structures, such as OCHA, the ICWG, relevant clusters as well as the IPC, with feedback from partners used for both triangulations of gathered data as well as to inform research design and geographical targeting.