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In 1993 AVSI first began supporting the people of Sudan by managing the Sudanese refugee camp Achol Pii in Northern Uganda on behalf of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). AVSI continued this work for many years; at the camp’s peak it hosted more than 13,000 refugees. As a consequence of the contacts established with Sudanese refugees in Northern Uganda, AVSI facilitated humanitarian interventions managed by the Sudanese Diocese of Torit and other local organizations in southern Sudan (Eastern Equatoria State), providing food and basic non food items to the displaced Sudanese inside Eastern Equatoria, items which were scarce due to the continuous civil unrest.
In 2005, after the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement which ended 22 years of civil war, AVSI opened a structured base of operations in Isohe, Eastern Equatoria State and another in Torit, the capital of the State. In 2011, a third office was opened in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.. The human and social fabric of the areas where AVSI operates are characterized, despite the cessation of hostilities, by a slow recovery to ordinary, if minimal, peaceful life conditions; decades of war, insecurity, displacements, and the absence of institutions, government and basic services have marked peoples’ attitudes; current society is characterized by isolation in fear of clashes or erupting violence, uncertainty towards the referendum, difficult access to schooling and health care, a weak market and limited trade opportunities leading to poor agricultural production, and lack of qualified national personnel. Combined these characteristics create an arduous path towards recovery and impede the development of social relationships and ownership based on trust within local communities. AVSI conceives its programs, conducted as much as possible with the participation of community and government entities, as an opportunity not only to provide the basic services so desperately needed, but also as an occasion and tool to help each single “beneficiary” regain awareness of his or her dignity and potential to help build a culture of conflict prevention and peaceful resolution based on mutual trust. Since September 2007 AVSI has been officially registered with the government of Southern Sudan. AVSI currently works in Juba and in three counties of Eastern Equatoria State: Ikotos, Torit and Lopa/Lafon, running multi sector projects including water and sanitation, education (formal and informal), health, emergency response and mine risk education.
In the water and sanitation sectors, AVSI works to strengthen existing water infrastructure and develop new water sources in both urban and rural areas while identifying and implementing, in collaboration with the local government, effective ways to eliminate sewage waste. The urban water treatment system implemented in Torit Town, made possible by USAID/OFDA funds, provides safe water in an area that is seeing large population growth due to returning of refugees. To ensure sustainability, AVSI invests in the technical and managerial capacity of local authorities. Although many villages in Torit and Lafon Counties have access to water, some do not. Villages without water cannot sustain life and if water access problems are not quickly addressed, their residents will soon be joining the waves of refugees flooding towns such as Torit. To help remedy this problem and improve hygienic and living conditions in rural areas, AVSI together with local authorities has worked to create viable water sources in villages by drilling strategic boreholes. With respect to sanitation, improper sewage disposal and hygiene practices are large problems in Torit Town and surrounding areas leading to rampant illness and disease. AVSI works to improve sewage systems through the implementation of household latrines, and together with the local government to develop a plan for public and institutional latrines, and conducts various public education campaigns to promote behavioural change through motivation, information and education.
AVSI’s work in the health sector began in 2004 when, together with support from the European Commission Humanitarian Office (ECHO), it managed the construction, operation, supply of equipment and drugs, food for in-patients, and staff salaries at the Primary Health Care Clinic (PHCC) in Isohe. The clinic was expanded in 2006/7 with the addition of a pharmacy, food store, maternity ward, and internal water distribution system. With the completion of an operating theater in 2012, renovations will upgrade the PHCC to serve as a rural hospital offering basic, but life-saving, surgical services and safe delivery ward. The clinic and 6 peripheral health units serve nearly 1,500 people per month.
In education AVSI looks to increase access to and quality of educational services including vocational training, for example in Eastern Equatoria State where only 1 in 3 children attends school and the ratio of qualified teachers to students is 1 to 108. Its method entails increasing community participation in education and promoting dialogue and respect of human dignity. To reach this goal, projects include adult literacy courses, distribution of academic material, support of rural schools, sponsorship of around 500 primary school children, and construction and expansion of schools. AVSI runs special programs for young women and provides advocacy and support for special needs education such as for demobilized child soldiers. Previously, AVSI sponsored and organized the travel and accommodation of hundreds of graduating students to Kitgum to participate in national certification exams.
To address the lack of human resources and qualified teachers caused by the long war and diaspora in Sudan, and thanks to experience connected with the Permanent Center of Education (PCE) in Uganda, AVSI was able to enter a partnership in 2011 with St. Mary’s University in Juba. AVSI and the PCE entered a multi-year agreement with the university, which was founded in 2009 with support from the Volunteer Organization for International Co-operation (OVCI), to offer certification programs for primary education teachers, rehabilitation therapists and social workers. In its first year, 41 students enrolled in the new coursework. With the beginning of this project, AVSI opened its new office in Juba, the capital of South Sudan.
ASVI’s institutional donors in Sudan include United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), USAID/OFDA, the South Sudan Basic Services Fund (BSF), UK Department for International Development (DFID), European Commission (ECHO), the Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and private donors.
Detailed map: AVSI Areas of Operation
Renovation, Operation, Expansion and Extension of Primary Healthcare Clinic in Isohe
Location: Isohe, Torit County
Description: Renovation and operation of the PHCC clinic in Isohe, one of the three rural hospitals in Eastern Equatoria State serving nearly 1,500 people/month. Supply equipment, drugs, food for in-patients, and staff salaries. Expand clinic: addition of pharmacy, food store, maternity ward, surgery and internal water distribution system. Renovate PHCC to serve as a rural hospital offering basic, but life-saving, surgical services. Maintain six satellite clinics in Chahari, Lodwara, Lobira, Mangalla, Okorohore and Chorokol.
Donor Partners: European Commission (ECHO), Private donors
Implementing Partners: Diocese of Torit
St. Mary’s University in Juba: to Train Teachers and to Build the Future
Location: Juba, Central Equatoria State, South Sudan
Desription: Construction of building for the School of Education at St. Mary’s University in Juba. Develop and offer coursework for the certification of primary school teachers and rehabilitation therapists with enrollment of 41 full-time students. Provide salaries for university professors.
Donor Partners: Private Donors
Implementing Partners: Permanent Center of Education (PCE), OVCI
Educational emergency in South Sudan: Sustaining and access to primary education in Ikotos and Torit Counties, Eastern Equatoria State
Location: Ikotos County and Torit County
Donor Partners: Italian Ministry of Foreign Affairs
Implementing Partner: Diocese of Torit
Food Security and Livelihood Advancement in Hiyala and Ikotos Counties, Eastern Equatoria State 2 (RRP2)
Location: Hiyala Payam, Torit County and Imatong Payam, Ikotos County, Eastern Equatoria State, South Sudan
Description: Consolidate efforts in Hiyala and Imatong Payams of the previous RRP around improving the long-term food security and livelihood needs of 6,498 rural and urban households in Torit and Ikotos Counties. Crop productivity of 3,249 farming households enhanced through improved crop production techniques and technologies for 36 farmer groups; improved access to seeds, tools and improved planting materials for cassava, sweet potato and groundnut for 3,000 individual farmers. Vocational and income generating activity (IGA) training for 900 household beneficiaries, business skill training for 900 IGA training graduates, 18 IGA group start-up grants and kits and development of 60 Saving and Internal Lending Communities (SILC)
Donor Partners: European Commission (ECHO)
Implementing Partners: Catholic Relief Services (CRS)
Health, Education, and Safe Water for All: An Integrated Approach to Basic Service Provision in Ikwoto County, Eastern Equatoria in South Sudan
Location: Ikwoto County, Eastern Equatoria in South Sudan
Description: Support Isohe PHCC and 6 PHCUs in the county to provide quality basic health services; improve access to water and sanitation. Particular strength is put on ANC and EPI activities for all children.
Donor Partners: Basic Service Fund (BSF)
Implementing Partners: Merlin (UK)
Water and Sanitation Support Intervention in Torit County, Eastern Equatoria
Location: Torit County
Description: Multi-sectoral intervention aimed at preventing water borne diseases by promoting safe practices in hygiene, sanitation, environmental health and water use, and increasing access to safe water in both urban and rural areas. Survey and rehabilitate water pumping and distribution system of Torit town, train pump mechanics and attendents of Torit Town water system, construct household latrines, drill new bore holes and repair village pumps, train Community Based Liaisons to promote health and hygiene in villages, conduct sensitization campaigns aimed at increasing the knowledge of the beneficiaries on the connection between sanitation and safe water with good health.
Donor Partners: USAID/OFDA
Implementing Partners: Diocese of Torit
Distance Support Project
Location: Eastern Equatoria
Duration: 1994 - Present
Description: Long-term support to over 500 orphans and vulnerable children, improving the conditions for psychosocial and academic progress, while strengthening the capacity of the children’s families, caretakers and local organizations to respond to their needs. Fulfillment of school requirements (uniforms, books, fees etc), organization of after school recreation and educational activities, and creating of programs designed to improve the economic status of the child’s family through training and support to parents.
Donors Partners: Private donors
May 2, 2011 AVSI's Committment to Education in South Sudan