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SRRA

Name Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA) Formed 1985
Headquarters New Cush, New Sudan Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs Kosti Manibe
Liaison Office

Nairobi, Kenya

Head quarters staff 46
Telephone 254 2 448075 / 440156 Field Staff 300
Fax 254 2 448078 Budget $400,000 - 600,000

 

by Fiona O'Reilly

Kosti Manibe the Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Mabior Deu, training officer

The Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Association (SRRA) describes itself as an autonomous humanitarian agency of the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM). It was established in 1985 and mandated to coordinate and facilitate humanitarian assistance programmes in SPLM areas. Its headquarters are in New Cush with liaison offices in Nairobi, Kampala, Addis Ababa and Loki. Presently, the SRRA coordinates and facilitates humanitarian activities in 23 counties covering an area of some 400,000 square kilometres, with an estimated population of 6.5 million. Joint relief and Rehabilitation Committees on which all functional humanitarian organisations in an area sit, serve as bodies to plan jointly, share information and resolve problems at the local level. The stated objectives of the SRRA are to:

  1. Improve access to and delivery of humanitarian assistance to affected populations in SPLM administered areas
  2. Increase managerial, technical and institutional capacity of SRRA, civil authorities and community groups
  3. Improve co-ordination with humanitarian agencies, civil authorities and community groups at all levels
  4. Enhance the operating environment

SRRA functions therefore include:

I interviewed a number of SRRA staff on behalf of the ENN. In Nairobi, Kosti Manibe the Secretary for Humanitarian Affairs and Mabior Deu, training officer and staff member since 1989, explained how in the early days of the SRRA there were only a few NGOs to deal with. The main ones were the NPA, the Red Cross, and the church based agencies but over the years numbers increased dramatically. This proliferation and diversity of NGOs though welcomed to meet increasing need has apparently posed problems for the SRRA particularly over the last year of the crisis when the professional ability of these agencies has varied enormously. The problem has been that the SRRA have lacked the capacity to effectively co-ordinate and monitor the many agencies on the ground. A number of agencies that came in simply lacked the capacity to do the job they came in to do, but at the same time the SRRA did not want to deny them access, as every resource was potentially useful given the scale of need.

Mabior described other constraints and frustrations for the SRRA. For example, the SRRA had known well in advance about the impending crisis in southern Sudan but had their hands tied as donors only eventually responded to images of starving children. Financial support, explained Kosti, has always been a problem for the SRRA. The millions provided to OLS dwarf their budget of between 400,000-600,000 dollars per year. The SRRA receives no direct government support and undoubtedly suffer under-financing partly as a result of their linkage to the SPLM/A.

Philip Aquer, the SRRA Liaison officer in Lokichokio

The SRRA are currently re-structuring their organisation with an emphasis on closer supervision and a move towards decentralised decision making. Staff will be re-deployed for better utilisation of manpower and to avoid politicisation of the SRRA. Kosti explained the development options open to the SRRA at present: to continue as a kind of para-statal organisation carrying out regulatory functions for NGO activities etc. or to move more into the field of humanitarian action and relief itself thereby operating increasingly like an NGO. Kosti mused that in a way the latter is bound to eventually occur when the war ends and civil structures emerge to replace much of SRRA's work.

An interview with Philip Aquer, the SRRA Liaison officer in Lokichokio provided other interesting insights into SRRA's experience of the recent emergency. Philip described how the SRRA had started raising the alarm about the pending crisis in 1997. He also described how the initial strategies of many agencies, namely opening up feeding centres was like 'a drop in the ocean' and that there was no way of providing adequate standards and services at these centres as thousands of people would descend on a new centre the day after its opening. Capacity was therefore immediately overwhelmed. Philip was of the view that by August 1998 agencies had begun to get their act together. By that time however hundreds of thousands had died.

Kosti Manibe suggested that if a humanitarian tragedy similar to that of last year is to be averted in the future there needs to be a commitment from the international community to prevent rather than simply respond.

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Fiona O’Reilly (1999). SRRA. Field Exchange 6, February 1999. p24. www.ennonline.net/fex/6/agencyprofilesrra

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