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Despite some improvements in humanitarian access since the establishment of the transitional government in February 2020, access continued to be constrained in 2020 by sub-national violence, bureaucratic impediments, operational interference, and violence against humanitarian personnel and assets. COVID-19 restrictions introduced in April to curb the spread of the virus after it was confirmed in South Sudan, added to the overall access constraints. During the rainy season which began in April 2020 and lasted until the end of the year, the most prominent constraint was the difficult physical environment. Up to 60 per cent of the roads in the country were cut off, hindering humanitarian organizations from accessing people in need of assistance and people from receiving aid.

Structured focus group discussions were conducted in person and virtually with humanitarian organizations in mid-2020, covering the first half of the year and forecasting for the second, to determine levels of perceived humanitarian access across the 78 counties of South Sudan. Discussions were held with United Nations agencies, and international and national non-governmental organizations (INGOs and NNGOs) to take into consideration differing levels of actual or perceived access to people in need. The findings were averaged and applied to a three-point severity scale, ranging from ‘accessible’ to ‘high access constraints’, to indicate the overall severity of the access constraints of each county.

The below map captures the severity of access constraints by county, as perceived by humanitarian organizations. The results will enable the development of local access strategies to address the most common or challenging impediments in 2021, inform high-level advocacy on access, and guide operational planning to support targeted response to people’s humanitarian needs in areas with severe access constraints.


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