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Task Force Review

Summary of a Report by SPLM/SRRA-OLS

Bahr el Ghazal Displaced people arriving from Wau

In response to the humanitarian crisis which unfolded in Bahr El Ghazal (BEG) last year, an SPLM/SRRA - OLS task force was set up to answer the question 'why are not all of the people in need receiving any or enough food?'. The assessment findings were that the intervention was restricted and constrained by an extremely complicated set of interrelated social/anthropological, political, economic, military and humanitarian factors and that these factors combined in various ways and in varying degrees at different phases of the crisis. The task force report found that the most vulnerable groups in BEG were also the most marginalised and as a result the least likely to receive the relief food that is actually intended for them. The following is a summary of the main findings and recommendations of the task force.

The people most in need of assistance were:

Why Not All People in Need Are Receiving Any or Enough Food

The task force found that no single factor or party can be held solely responsible for the crisis. The problems had been:

  1. chronic under funding that OLS had suffered since 1995
  2. The flight suspension imposed by the GoS at the most critical moments of the crisis and the subsequent delays in granting clearance for additional heavy lift cargo aircraft
  3. the clearance of only four locations on Feb 26th attracted many people in from long distances, overwhelming poorly equipped centres
  4. OLS agencies were late in their capacity to respond to the rapidly deteriorating situation. Reasons include lack of contingency planning by OLS and their underestimation of the total number of people in need as it relied on their own limited assessment and distribution coverage to make projections
  5. the Relief Committee and/or Chief distribution systems did not cope with distributing a limited number of resources during the period of dramatically increasing and wide spread need
  6. the practice of redistributing relief food equally among the majority of the population by Chiefs and local communities so that the most needy got less than intended
  7. the lack of accurate and/or agreed population figures. OLS agencies and the SPLM/SRRA were constantly disputing each others population figures, making coordinated and joint planning very difficult
  8. application of a modified version of the traditional and socially accepted practice 'tayeen' (a contribution by the community to the government which includes the army) of relief food
  9. problems with law and order and military discipline leading to chaos at distribution sites and many beneficiaries being robbed of their relief food.


Child picking up grains from the dropsite in Koch, upper Nile

The task force report made many recommendations to assist in ending the crisis. Each recommendation was matched with the actor it believed should initiate the action. In view of the large number of recommendations made in this report, only a few examples are given here.

Finally, the report highlighted the many steps already taken by agencies to improve matters and expressed appreciation for the courage and initiative taken by the SPLM, SRRA and OLS agencies to open themselves up to critical examination of the complex issues pertaining to why people in need in BEG were not getting any or enough food.


SPLM/SRRA - OLS Joint Targeting and Vulnerability Task Force in SPLM Controlled Areas of Bahr el Ghazal: August 27th 1998 - Executive Summary

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Reference this page

Task Force Review. Field Exchange 6, February 1999. p27.



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