Provision of Transitional Shelter to the most Vulnerable Households Returning from Sudan to South Sudan

Project location: SUDAN, South Sudan
Project start date: July 2012 - Project end date: July 2013
Project number: 2012-013
Beneficiary: UNHCR


The referendum in South Sudan in January 2011 and subsequent declaration of independence took place as scheduled and passed peacefully. Many of the previously agreed upon substantive tasks were not realized prior to the formal declaration of independence of the south on 9 July 2011. Several key Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) issues, including border demarcation, the status of Abyei, wealth sharing, and nationality/citizenship policies remain unresolved. The political and operational challenges ahead for both the nascent government of South Sudan, as well as international agencies mandated to assist, are monumental in scope and offer an unprecedented opportunity to resolve one of Africa's most enduring displacement crises.
2012 will be marked by efforts to establish a viable state in South Sudan. The complex internal political dynamics will need to be carefully managed and move towards inclusion and representation of the various regions and ethnic groups. The prospect of renewed inter/intra communal violence, aided by the flow of small arms and the resurgence of armed rebellions by multiple militia groups, are among the key threats to lasting peace. The demobilization and integration of various military and paramilitary units is a priority in the immediate, post-independence period. Localized conflicts over competition for land and natural resources renewed inter/intra ethnic conflict, exacerbated by the ongoing large-scale return of southerners from the north and countries of asylum. In addition, the continued activities of the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) and other potential spoilers will likely result in further displacement, high levels of localized insecurity and conflict, and heightened concerns for community and staff security.
Sudan ranked 154th out of 169 in the UNDP Human Development Index (HDI), and the poverty rate for South Sudan is 50.6 percent. Economic and social development requires urgent action and support from the international community. Despite efforts to address infrastructure gaps during the CPA period, access to basic services remains limited and the needs are enormous.

The increased population movements since the last quarter of 2010, prompted primarily by a desire to return from the north and rebuild the country, continued in 2011. Moreover, the majority of South Sudanese returning from the north are concentrating in urban and peri-urban areas, adding further stress on already-overstretched infrastructure and access to services.
Internally displaced persons (IDPs) originate from Abyei region as well as from South Kordofan. These IDP groups also include those who had been previously displaced and had temporarily settled in those states. Recently, the fresh military offensive seen in Blue Nile State, has already resulted in some 20,000 refugees into Ethiopia. In the meantime, IDP returnees from the north are desperately seeking to safely return to South Sudan, especially from Kosti to Malakal via Renk.
The fledgling Government of South Sudan requires concerted efforts by international communities to support this new country, the Republic of South Sudan, in order to meet the growing aspirations of its people and promote stabilization of South Sudan.
Shelter is high on the list of life-sustaining essentials. It is a key protection priority. The right to shelter involves both access to adequate shelter and the sustained ability to enjoy an adequate standard of shelter. This right was first recognized in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and subsequently included in various human rights instruments. The minimum requirements that need to be fulfilled in relation to the right to adequate shelter is privacy, security of person, health and food.
Displaced unaccompanied children, particularly child-headed households, are especially exposed to protection risks related to the lack of appropriate shelter, including trafficking and various forms of violence, abuse or exploitation. Single women or female-headed households are at greater risk of harassment, assault or exploitation if they live in shelters without proper walls, partitioning or the possibility to lock a door. Most unaccompanied older persons have difficulties constructing their own shelters or might need to share shelter with others. Unless they receive targeted support, they find themselves in a precarious and undignified situation of dependency. In addition, displaced and returnees families who do not own land or property are facing heightened protection risks, as the legal and administrative mechanisms to support them are not clear.
The provision of shelter has been identified by returnees from North Sudan as one of their most critical needs on arrival. Gaps in shelter assistance have also been highlighted by the authorities both at the state and regional level.

The NPF has awarded a grant for this project. Through shelter support, UNHCR aims to monitor the attainment of solutions by, and the level of (re)integration of, the most exposed households and individuals. This approach is also intended to ensure that returning IDPs are able to settle at the place of their choice within South Sudan, be it in a rural or an urban setting.

In accordance with set inter-agency guidelines in the context of the Emergency Return Sector, shelter assistance will be provided at places of final destination only, and not in transit situations.
UNHCR's approach to shelter assistance in South Sudan has been designed following consultation with relevant communities, the Ministry of Housing and Physical Planning, the Ministry of Humanitarian Affairs and Disaster Management and the humanitarian agencies with experience in the shelter sector.

UNHCR has developed specific criteria for selection of persons with special needs for shelter project:
- No available accommodation or current accommodation in a very poor shape
- No external support from extended family
- No financial or material resources to build their own shelter (no income of their own)

The following groups should be targeted in order of priority:




1/ Child-headed household

Girls and boys below the age of 18 who are left without any adult to care for them and assume responsibility as heads of household.

2/ Older person with minor children

Older person (60+)  who is caring for his/her own children and/or grandchildren (girls and boys) below 18.

3/ Older person(s) without accompanying family members

An unaccompanied older person (60+) (it might also be a couple, husband and wife, without any family members)

4/ Female-headed household

A single (unmarried, widowed, divorced, separated) female head of household with children and all dependents are under the age of 18

5/ Persons with disabilities

Adult who is physically or mentally impaired entailing a serious impact on his/her ability to achieve self-sufficiency. The disability should be of a permanent kind. The person with the disability should be without family, or be one of the heads of household.

6/ Persons with chronic medical condition

Adult who is impaired by a chronic illness, which has a serious impact on his/her ability to achieve self-sufficiency. The person with the medical condition should be without family, or be one of the heads of household.

7/ Large family

Families with more than six children below 18 years of age under their care


UNHCR shelter project was launched in 2011 to respond to the massive return from the Khartoum to the new independent Republic of South Sudan. Its implementation faces the following challenges:

• Difficulties and delayed to access demarcated land
• Frequent flooding of the plot and shelters as results of drainage absence.
• Poor quality of construction, resulting of inexperience constructors and inadequate building materials.
• Lack of community motivation resulting of the lack of livelihoods, demanding permanently "incentives" to work, even for their own benefit.
• Lack of community mobilization to build and specially mud the shelters.
• Increasing cost of building materials, particularly bamboos and poles, which are seasonally available materials.
• Lack of space for cultivation, creating conflicts occupying neighbouring plots

Taking into account these factors, a new phase (phase 2) was designed, with a new approach consisting essentially of working simultaneously livelihood, quick impact projects, (targeting mostly infrastructures) and shelters, developing all together a community safety network of actions and resources.

For 2012, UNHCR will provide shelter assistance to the most vulnerable IDPs and returnees. UNHCR Shelter interventions for 2012 aims to provide transitional shelter to 10,000 particularly exposed households (figure to be revised as the situation evolves). The construction of 10,000 shelters will directly benefit 50,0000 individuals.

UNHCR shelter project was launched in 2011 to respond to the massive return from the Khartoum to the new independent Republic of South Sudan

This second phase has been designed assuming the following principles:

• Implementing partner: Seeks to work on community based organizations trained during the first phase of the project
• Urban-regional planning: It will be based on previous negotiation and agreement with the Ministry of Physical Planning regarding a guided land development plan (expansion of major cities) where to settle vulnerable returnees.
• Livelihoods: as cornerstone of the settlement plans. Decisions regarding final destination of the returnees will be based on the availability of livelihoods and actions to empower them (through training, capacity building, etc) to generate income. Production of blocks and building materials is aimed as a strategic area.
• Quick Impact Projects: as key settlement infrastructure and environmental risk mitigation: QIPs are conceived as support to returnee settlement, supplying boreholes, sanitation, waste management, etc, according to the eeds and treats presenting the specific places for settlement. Actions preventing flooding is a priority
• Construction technologies: Selecting the most suitable technology, either "green blocks" (improved through hand press machines) or traditional poles/bamboos according to particular local conditions is the key point. Alternatives for roofing, either thatch, iron sheet or other alternatives are under discussion.

The Table below presents a summary of the necessary steps to implement UNHCR 2012 shelter project:





Procurement, training and production of "green blocks"(stabilized mud and sun dried) andstabilized soil blocks (5% cement)


Building a demonstration shelter (test community acceptance, technology and pricing)


Step 3. Agree on urban-regional planning strategy: Towns and villages to facilitate returnee settlement building shelters 


Identification of beneficiaries and plots: Support to enhance site lay out design and task force to speed up demarcation.


Community infrastructure work (QIPs), facilitating returnee settlements, complementing priorities in the area.


Massive construction of shelters, following technical specifications per region (foundations, walls, roofing).


Encouraging latrines and continue implementing QIPS, livelihood and shelters


UNHCR will provide shelter in the most cost-effective way possible, while taking into account physical climates and conditions and that the response must conform to international standards, while at the same time being environmentally sustainable and sympathetic to the security and customs of the beneficiaries, as well as the host communities.
UNHCR field offices will focus on the identification of protection challenges and the identification of persons with special needs. The teams will conduct interventions to address the problems identified, such as ensuring the physical safety of return convoys, establishing immediate referrals for survivors of gender-based violence, and family tracing. UNHCR ensures that the most vulnerable families are not marginalized or confronted with overwhelming risks at the initial stages of return. UNHCR field staff will continue to coordinate and supervise activities through regular, dialogue and confidence building with returnees and local communities, on-site visits and verification of reports to ensure effectiveness of assistance.
Shelter interventions are based on community mobilization. Communities are closely involved in the identification of persons with special needs and will provide the workforce for the shelter construction on behalf of those who do not have the physical capacity to build their own. As an incentive, vocational training (e.g. carpentry, roof making) and a start up kit will be provided to those involved in construction (livelihood component). This in turn led to income generation opportunities for those concerned.

All components of the shelter programme are framed in the context of building peaceful coexistence and solidarity between returning communities and those who remained in the south. Extending beyond family and tribal networks, this project help to consolidate and anchor reintegration by forging common interests and goals among and between communities working towards a shared future. This is of particular importance in situations where individuals or groups decide to settle in places other than their places of origin or in cases where new communities formed while in displacement have decided to re-settle together back in South Sudan

These are the aims of this project:
• Procurement, training and production of "green blocks" (stabilized mud and sun dried) and stabilized soil blocks (SSB).
• Provision of building materials for 60 shelters for families of 6 persons (21 m²).
• Urban-regional planning strategy established: liaise with the Ministry of Housing and Physical Planning (MHPP) at the government of South Sudan (GoSS) and the Ministries of Physical Infrastructure (MoPIs) at the state level to facilitate land allocation for shelters.
• Identification of vulnerable households for the provision of shelters.
• Construction and supervision of 60 sheltersfor families of 6 persons (21 m²).

UNHCR has developed specific criteria for selection of persons with special needs for shelter project:
- No available accommodation or current accommodation in a very poor shape
- No external support from extended family
- No financial or material resources to build their own shelter (no income of their own)

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