In times of crisis, vulnerable populations are often the most affected, and access to essential services becomes a critical challenge. As part of PAMANA Project HDP programming, we have been conducting trainings and sessions on Gender and PSEA specifically in regard to access to and management of natural resources and in regard to access to services during crises for local structures in Yei and Lainya – South Sudan, and Koboko and Yumbe – Uganda., including advocacy elements for gender equality and the importance of inclusion as cross-cutting issues. While 60% of direct beneficiaries as women, we have also recruited female trainers to promote women-to women learning. For the PAMANA, understanding of key concepts and requirements to support gender equality is central in the project to create a more inclusive and secure environment resulting to improve access to services and enhance the distribution process during humanitarian crises.
PAMANA is Building Peace Through Sustainable Access to and Management of Natural Resources in West Nile and Central Equatoria, a 3-year project implemented by a consortium consisting of four NGOs, including Caritas Switzerland (lead), Community Development Centre (CDC), Agency for Accelerated Regional Development (AFARD), and Organic Farming Advisory Organization (OFAO), with technical advice from swisspeace and BOMA Project in Koboko and Yumbe Districts in WN, Uganda; and Yei and Lainya Counties in CES, South Sudan. PAMANA is supported by the Austrian Development Agency (ADA), the operational unit of Austrian Development Cooperation
The PAMANA Project is Humanitarian Development Peace (HDP) nexus approach, and the project aims to significantly reduce conflict over and pressure on Natural Resources in Central Equatoria State and West Nile Region through building local capacities for supporting the most vulnerable groups amongst the host, refugee and IDP communities (with a special focus on women), meeting their immediate needs and securing sustainable livelihoods in ways that promote peace, stability and gender-equality.
The PAMANA project is being implemented in a gender transformative approach which goes beyond women’s empowerment into transforming gender roles and relations, and promoting women’s greater equality, responsibilities, status and access to and control over resources, services, and decision making. This reflected in the project’s design and throughout its ongoing implementation, and fostering systemic changes in project implementing partner organizations and institutional rules and practices, processes, and priorities towards a more gender and inclusion aware design, implementation, monitoring, evaluation and learning in its HDP programming initiatives. Demonstrating a perfect knowledge link between gender and inclusion and HDP, and to better inform the selection and design of interventions to tackle the root causes of gender inequalities that create gender-differentiated vulnerabilities and resilience capacities, ultimately resulting in the empowerment of women and other vulnerable groups in the communities.
At the heart of the PAMANA project lies the local structures who are our target groups, the local structures includes local government structures, religious and traditional institutions which consist youth leaders in the church, religious leaders, traditional leaders, civil society organizations, and private sector actors consisting of farmers groups, cooperative societies, radio stations, district farmers associations; direct beneficiaries from most vulnerable groups amongst the host, refugee and Internally Displaced Persons’ (IDP) communities.
Community Development Centre – CDC has been empowering these local structures through the gender and PSEA trainings specifically in regard to access to and management of natural resources to equip these actors with the knowledge and tools needed to respond effectively to crises and interactive Gender and PSEA sessions in regard to access to services during crises which are conducted prior to distribution services. Through awareness-building exercises, local structures were sensitized to gender-related issues and PSEA, Now having increased understanding are adapting and demonstrating huge change of mind-set. Seeking to create a protective environment for vulnerable populations, especially women and children, are susceptible to exploitation and abuse in humanitarian crises; Community Development Centre – CDC’s sessions played the role of raising awareness about PSEA protocols and promoting a zero-tolerance approach to such misconduct. We additionally use posters display in the areas in the community to further the important information and by actively involving local structures in this effort, the project sought to create a network of safeguarding agents within the communities.
The impact of the PAMANA project’s training and sessions was evident in the improved responsiveness of local structures and as the project progressed, we witnessed a growing sense of agency and confidence among community leaders, leading to more efficient and equitable service distribution.
Access to services during crises is often hindered by logistical challenges and societal barriers in regard to access to and management of natural resources. By empowering local structures and enhancing their capacity, the PAMANA project sought to streamline the distribution process and bridge gaps in service delivery. Through their newfound knowledge and skills, community leaders and service providers were better equipped to address the immediate needs of their communities, ensuring that essential services reached those who needed them the most.
The PAMANA project serves as a catalyst for sustained progress, and ongoing support and collaboration are crucial to its success. As we move forward, we remain committed to promoting gender equality, safeguarding vulnerable populations, and building stronger, more resilient communities in South Sudan and Uganda. Together, we can foster lasting change and ensure that no one is left behind during times of crisis.