South Sudan is experiencing a serious economic crisis mainly due to the drop in oil prices, the devaluation of the local currency (the South Sudanese pound) and excessive dependence on imports.
Commodity prices are at an all-time high and it is estimated that 5.29 million people (45% of the population) were living in conditions of severe food insecurity as of January 2020.
On April 5, 2020, South Sudan confirmed the first case of Covid-19, after which the Government issued restrictive measures to prevent the spread of the virus. As is the global experience, restrictions had a major impact on the local economy and commodity prices have risen even further, creating greater stress in the markets and insecurity in the population.
COVID-19 has also had a severe echo in the Gumbo camp for displaced people, which was set up in 2014 following the outbreak of civil war. Currently, it is directly managed by the Salesians who host nearly 9,800 people, including many children, orphans, women and the elderly. The Salesians in Gumbo have done only what they know best; welcoming refugees, offering them food, education, medical care, moral and spiritual support.
Equipping people with skills that allows them to create an income is the most sustainable method of development.
In these months of pandemic, the Salesians have continued their work on behalf of the most vulnerable families. The latter have been registered and categorized to facilitate the distribution of food, water and basic necessities, such as sanitary kits, mattresses, soaps and plastic sheets to cover the roofs.
During this period, despite some difficulties, distribution took place regularly and vulnerable families were able to benefit from the products made available by the Salesians. The refugees were also reminded to follow the protocols dictated by the Ministry of Health, that is, to wash their hands often, to maintain hygiene and body care.
In any case, instability in the country remains high. Funding is inadequate and fails to meet the needs of all internally displaced people, nor to cover medical expenses for the elderly and sick.
Furthermore, the constant fluctuation of prices and the consequent economic difficulties remain a challenge for the Country's most vulnerable individuals.
If you would like to help support the work of the Salesians in Gumbo, please visit the Salesian Missions Australian Website