International Day of Rural Women

The Role of Rural Women in South Sudan to Economic Recovery in the face of Covid-19

Date: Thursday, October 15, 2020

Margret Raman at her store in Masiya Market in Yambio
Margret Raman at her store in Masiya Market in Yambio. Photo:  Alice Hassen/CAO

Everywhere in South Sudan, Covid-19 has become a new song, challenging not only the health system but also threatening livelihoods of the already vulnerable populations.

The people of South Sudan endured six years of a terrible war, which killed more than 300,000 people and leftover 1.5 million internally displaced, most of who live in overcrowded places like the United Nations Protection of Civilian (PoC) sites across the country. Now with the newly formed government of national unity, the country, communities, and households that were in the process of rebuilding have been affected by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The current economy downfall has had an adverse effect on the economic status of women. To overcome these challenges, Anika Women Group adopted innovative ways to improve their livelihood in the face of the Covid-19 risks. Since the government restricted movement in March 2020, the majority of the group members were affected financially. For instance, the group savings reduced from SSP 25,000 ($84) in February to SSP 13,700 ($44) in March 2020.  This meant a loss of income and provision of basic needs.

Emelia Yabang, the group chairperson says, “Through the skills, we got from UN Women in tailoring and production of honey, soap, candles, and glycerin, business and financial management, we began to have a different view of the negative effects of the pandemic”.

The group was able to reorganize its activities, reduced the production of school uniforms after the closure of learning institutions during the pandemic period and used the skills acquired to produce facemasks.

We are currently in discussions with the State Minister of Health to produce and supply facemasks for frontline health workers and the general public” she added.

In South Sudan, UN Women has been providing Anika Women Group in soap making and since February the production increased from 60 to 130 litres to cater for the demand for handwashing soap resulting in an increase in revenue from US$ 200 in March to US$450 by April. This has also increased members’ savings from 13,700 ($46) in March to 40,000 ($134) by end of April.

The increased demand for soap, candles, facemasks, honey and glycerin the group hopes to continue to increase their income and improve livelihoods while they continue to remain resilient in the face of Covid-19.

UN Women and CAO have in the recent past provided technical and financial support the group to conduct community awareness on handwashing and sexual and Gender-based Violence (GBV) during the pandemic.