Development Connect works together with De Vereniging van Nederlandse Gemeenten (VNG, Foundation of Dutch municipalities) to develop a capacity development program for the Sudan Stability & Humanitarian Aid 2017 contributing to SDG16. Explicit advice is provided on gender equality & mainstreaming, on targets to be formulated for SDG5 as well as on SDG6 Water and Sanitation.

A capacity assessment methodology was developed which was applied in-country with different local government counties in June-July 2016. The assessments in Sudan were jointly conducted with a representative from MDF, the Netherlands.

The assessment conducted focused specifically on capabilities of the local government in Imatong (Torit county) and Namurunyang States (Kapoeta North, Kapoeta South, Kapoeta East counties) to deliver Water and Sanitation services in a gender-responsive way.

Approach of the assessment

The approach and used methods for the assessment was largely influenced by the external environment. Due to the fact that it was too dangerous to travel to Kapoeta, and the fact that most local government staff who are knowledgeable enough to provide responses to the assessment questions have been re-allocated to other counties, one joint meeting/workshop was organised in Torit and other data were gathered by semi-structured interviews.

Based on a desk review, questions were formulated for the interviews and for the assessment workshop. The interviews were held in the form of semi-structured conversations, depending on the field of expertise and experiences of the interviewee. The workshop was designed based on a methodology called “6Cs”, which includes questions and statements for participants to respond to. For the two days’ workshop, local government civil servants from counties of both states were invited. Selection criteria of participants were: active participation in LGCP, knowledge and analytical skills to distinguish the different capabilities, and ability of making connections between the assessment elements and reality, and capable to provide examples to support the assessment.

Instead of focusing on geographic areas (former Torit county and Kapoeta county), with participants from the county, one workshop was held with government officials from different counties, but all have worked in at least one of the counties. The geographical area of analysis is therefore “the former Eastern Equatorial States” instead of assessing each county separately. As a result, none of the conclusions for elements of the 6C model can be associated with a particular county but is considered illustrative for the whole geographical area.

Some of the below questions guided the capacity assessment:

To what extend is the local government, and in particular the WASH department:

  • Capacitated to develop strategies, make plans, budgets, set up and maintain financial and technical administration, make decisions, coordinate?
  • Aware of and able to apply manuals and guidelines, and do they help to implement WASH services?
  • Provided with sufficient means to do their work (finance, equipment, transport, spare parts, etc.)
  • Capacitated to provide leadership and/or carry out their work as (classified) staff?
  • Able to collaborate with external parties to get things done? Are external stakeholders involved? How? Are they transparent? Accountable?
  • Able to monitor the progress of their work and to learn and adapt?
  • Able to mainstream gender and provide additional focused attention to gender equality promotion? I.e. to what extend is the gender component taken into account in the work?

In order to understand what is considered gender-responsiveness, the following was shared to keep in mind when participants were asked to respond to the capacity assessment questions/discussions:

  • Participation of men and women (and representation when participation is not possible)
  • Consideration of needs of men and women based on their responsibilities, experiences, concerns and constraints
  • Results that meet the needs of men and women
  • Data collected and presented separately on men and women (for monitoring, learning, adapting and reporting)

The government’s decision to divide  the country in 2015 into a higher number of states and counties (from 10 to 28 states and from 79 to 248 counties) was meant to bring service delivery closer to communities. At the same time local government staff was/is being relocated close(r) to their original place (of birth) so communities could identify themselves with those who provide services to them (related to tribal diversity). However, instead of creating more harmony within a county this decentralization created lots of division between and within counties because people start(ed) defending their areas from tribal perspectives. So far, the national government did not develop a plan nor did it provide a budget for local service delivery design and implementation.

Capacity development in general among local government has been stagnated, because of the lack of resources to train new staff to cover the expansion and because of the relocation process (staff moving from one county to another) the availability of staff to participate in trainings is hampered. Most government staff has not been paid their salaries for the past 3 months. Although existing competencies of local government are not directly influenced, the impact on motivation and commitment is evident. Civil servants may start protesting, strike even, which will hamper the functioning of the local government (service delivery).

Contact us if you like to learn more about the full assessment methodologies designed, the analyses, findings and recommendations put forward for the new 2017 – 2020 program.

Meeting with the Deputy Governor, State Minister for Gender, UNMISS & the Women Association in Torit, South Sudan to solicit ideas feeding into the new Stability, Humanitarian Aid program 2017 which Development Connect helps to design for Dutch VNG and MoFA.