South Sudan

Providing child protection, education and psychosocial support for children and youth in the world's youngest nation

Facts and figures

  • Total population: 13.3 million
  • Total population under 18: 5.9 million
  • Number of people in need : 7.1 million
  • Children affected by conflict: 1.4 million
  • Children out of school: 2.2 million
  • Malnourished children: 860 000
  • Number of War Child projects in 2019: Two
  • Local partner organisations: One
  • Total participants: 8,506 (adults) and 11,741 (children)

National Situation

People in South Sudan continue to live with the fear and uncertainty as a result of armed conflict. While internal conflicts ended formally with a peace agreement in 2018, the country remains in the grip of a serious humanitarian crisis. The cumulative effects of years of conflict, violence and destroyed livelihoods have left more than two thirds of the population (7 million people) in dire need of humanitarian support and protection. Over 4.5 million people are uprooted and 2.5 million people have sought safety in neighbouring countries including Ethiopia, Sudan, Uganda and Kenya.

The conflict has also had a significant effect on the economy. The country’s economic crisis has triggered food shortages and widespread disruption of health and education resources. A sharp rise in violent crime has also seen targeted killings and sexual violence become common events.

South Sudan girl and boy outside

Children in South Sudan have the right to a carefree childhood

Photo: War Child

Situation of Children

Years of conflict inside South Sudan have crippled the country’s infrastructure and resulted in the breakdown of social, community and family structures essential for protecting children from harm. The country’s education system is particularly fragile - nearly one in every three schools in South Sudan has been either destroyed, damaged or occupied by armed forces.

More than five million children remain displaced, in need of humanitarian support, and at high risk of recruitment, abuse, exploitation, neglect, profound distress and death. Access remains difficult and basic services remain limited. Three million children are estimated to be severely food insecure and about one million children suffer from psychosocial distress, with only about 30 percent (266,000) currently being reached by psychosocial support (PSS) interventions.

The widespread disruption of education and health resources threatens to leave an entire generation in crisis. More than two million school-aged children are out-of-school, with some 1.3 million children at risk of dropping out of education altogether.

“If I was president I would work hard to unite my country and help them fight war and hunger."
Cilia (14) from South Sudan

What We Do

War Child Holland's programmes in South Sudan are designed to help children cope with the immediate and long-term consequences of conflict and build vital skills - both for themselves and their country’s future.

Our projects combine education and vocational training, psychosocial support and child protection activities to enhanced effect. We use participatory and empowering approaches in all our projects. To support this process, we also work with parents and caregivers, teachers, community leaders, national and international partner organisations and government officials.

This ‘community-based approach’ places children at the centre of our work - and helps build their strength and resilience.

The year saw us expand our reach in partnership with local and international organisations - to provide quality psychosocial support to children associated with armed groups. We also provided training frontline workers in local and international NGOs to provide psychosocial support - a move which could see thousands of additional children benefit from our methods.

Our Projects

South Sudan Joint Response 5 (SSJR5)

This programme is designed to support children cope with the immediate and long-term effect of the ongoing armed conflict in Malakal and Fashoda state in Upper Nile State. It combines psychosocial support, child protection, non-formal education and livelihoods training. Food security initiatives play a key role in this project.

Community-Based Child Protection and Psychosocial Support

The project, implemented in collaboration with UNICEF, is designed to improve the quality of child protection and psychosocial support services provided by national NGOs and other local actors in Upper Nile, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, Western Equatoria and Unity State. The focus is on national and field-level capacity training and coaching, however the project also implements community-based child protection and psychosocial support activities directly.

South Sudan girl outside

We help children cope with the immediate and long-term consequences of conflict and build vital skills

Photo: Daniel Maissan

Voices of Children

A Long Journey to Safety

Siblings Jok and Mab are amongst the 1.9 million people in South Sudan who have recently been forced from their homes as a result of the country’s brutal internal conflict.

Both were orphaned when Jok was ten years old. They were later exposed to domestic violence and child labour at the hands of their step-mother.

Jok and Mob eventually went to live with their uncle in Jonglei State - and began to attend activities in our Child Friendly Space (CFS). Jok spoke out on child rights in a radio programme as part of the structured recreational activities on offer inside the CFS.

Both children are also members of the ‘peer advocacy’ group in their community. There they help raise awareness of child rights and child protection both to their peers and to the adults in their community.

Jok and Mab continue to participate in these activities today. “I love to come to the Child Friendly Space every day,” says Jok.

“I thank everyone who helped me move from my difficult life with my bad step-mother to my caring uncle.”