In South Sudan, food insecurity, natural calamities, and persistent economic instability have all left a vast majority of the population on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.
The World Bank’s Social Safety Net project has benefited over 400,000 South-Sudanese people through cash transfers and training.
Their stories and experiences are documented in a photobook that puts a human face on the value of safety net projects.
Nyayom Lual, a resident of the Gogrial West County of South Sudan, has a compelling story to tell. Since joining the Labor Intensive Public Works (LIPW) component of the World Bank’s South Sudan Safety Net Project (SSSNP), her family’s welfare has improved. Nyayom’s strength of character and determination to see her family through adversity have finally paid off, and things are looking up for them as of late.
“From the money I received, I baked cookies and processed peanut butter for sale. I also used some of the money to buy seeds for cultivation and bought three goats, which will produce milk and, once sold, will bring my family more money."
Nyayom Lual, a resident of the Gogrial West County of South Sudan
In South Sudan's inherently unstable and fragile economy, poverty is endemic. In the wake of the recent pandemic and global economic downturn, food insecurity, natural calamities, and persistent economic instability have all left a vast majority of the population on the brink of a humanitarian crisis.
What sets Nyayom apart is her resolve and resilience; despite extreme hardships, her family's situation is gradually improving. There are 423,051 South Sudanese people, like Nyayom, across 10 counties in South Sudan, whose lives have been changed for the better thanks to cash transfers totaling $23.5 million from the SSSNP. Beyond the facts and figures, the stories of these people provide valuable insights, underscoring that it is not just the construction of roads and community infrastructure that brings out the real value and human face of safety net projects, but rather people’s intense determination and resolve.
These stories are collected in a photobook titled “Against All Odds: South Sudan Safety Net Project.” Its narrative tells the story of the resilience and welfare of impoverished and vulnerable South Sudanese by combining the lessons and innovations of the project with a rich collage of stunning imagery and the testimonies of people. For instance, it discusses the success of SSSNP’s Cash ‘Plus’ trainings, which were delivered to promote healthy behaviors in nutrition, early childhood development, and water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) among communities. Recipients also reported that the financial inclusion training enabled them to better plan and save for unexpected events.
According to another beneficiary, Micheal Maluk Kuol, "At first we were not good at financial management. Through the training, we have learned a lot about how to better manage money. I used the cash to buy seeds and started this vegetable garden."
The SSSNP has also paved the way to adapt social safety nets to promote gender-transformative behaviors, social cohesion, and sensitivity to preventing and reducing gender-based violence in settings impacted by fragility, conflict, and violence.
Mary Nyalang from Gogrial West shares, “I was registered by the project because I am a widow with children in school who need tuition. From the money I received, I expanded my field like never before and harvested four sacks of groundnuts, seven sacks of simsim and four sacks of Sorghum.”
In March of 2023, the SSSNP officially ended. The project’s successor, the South Sudan Productive Safety Net for Socioeconomic Opportunities Project (SNSOP), will continue the joint efforts of the World Bank, the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, and the implementing partners to improve the lives and livelihoods of more than 96,000 vulnerable South Sudanese households. The SNSOP is directly implemented by the government and will provide critical cash assistance through both direct income support and labor-intensive public works, in addition to the provision of other economic opportunities. It will not only continue to uplift the poor South Sudanese but also aims to strengthen the government’s institutional capacity to develop a national social protection system. Both projects are financed by the International Development Association (IDA)–the part of the World Bank that helps the poorest countries.