South Sudan

Lopeltom Lamor takes her 3 year old sister Nakor Lamor to be vaccinated during the SCiSS Paringa Child Health Day in Kapoeta North County.

Save the Children's Humanitarian Response

The world's youngest country, South Sudan gained independence more than three years ago. South Sudan has been devastated by decades of war in which 2 million people have died and 4 million have been forced to flee, and continue to face humanitarian crises. Currently, South Sudan is the scene of Africa's longest running civil war.

Save the Children has been working in South Sudan since 2000 (prior to independence), implementing programs in 9 of the country's 10 states. We have emergency response programs that focus on child protection and education in emergencies to ensure the children of South Sudan remain safe.

Read Our Latest Press Release

Our Results in South Sudan

  • We kept 9,287 children safe from harm.
  • More than 115,436 children got the opportunity to learn.
  • In times of crisis, 35,666 children received emergency relief.
  • More than 50,778 children had a healthy start in life.
  • To help parents feed their children, 51,935 received support to start businesses, improve farming practices and invest in their children’s futures.
  • To fight malnutrition, nearly 114,519 received nutritious food and vital supplements.

Crisis Update

Since the start of the conflict in December 2013, humanitarian needs in South Sudan have escalated to alarming levels. The crisis is currently impacting five countries in the East Africa region. Save the Children is responding to the needs of people displaced in Kenya, Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda as well as to those internally displaced within South Sudan itself. Forecasts suggest that by December, 7.3 million people, half the South Sudanese population, will be in need of humanitarian aid.

Our Response to the Current Crisis

Save the Children has helped more than 150,000 people through the regional response, 75% of whom are living inside South Sudan under deteriorating conditions.

We are working to keep children safe from harm and give them an opportunity to learn at our Child Friendly Spaces and temporary schools. We are helping to give children a healthy start through medical care, nutritious food and clean water. Sadly, many children have been separated from their parents in the chaos of the crisis, but our children's relief experts are hard at work reuniting children with their families. In nearby countries where children from South Sudan have fled, including Kenya, Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia, we are working to improve crowded conditions at refugee camps, set up health care and schools and provide food, shelter, water and sanitation.

Nyatot’s husband died, leaving her to raise three children alone in conflict-ravaged South Sudan. Read the inspiring story of how she got her kids out of harm’s way and to a refugee camp where we helped provide the care they needed. Cheers to every mom who fights to give her kids a better life!

Our Programs

Challenges for Children in Southern Sudan

Southern Sudan has among the highest infant-mortality rates and the lowest education indicators in the world. Children who were forced to serve as child soldiers and children orphaned by the war have severe emotional needs.

The repeated blows to the infrastructure and institutions have created extremely limited basic and necessary services. School attendance rates are among the lowest globally, especially among girls. Most families go without basic health care. There is little access to clean water, sanitation and hygiene, fostering the spread of infectious diseases.

Emergency Relief, Independence and Political Crisis

Despite independence, the situation remains challenging. Children in South Sudan have long experienced disruption and displacement due to decades of insecurity. Recently, this has forced at least 175,000 people to flee their homes and seek safety in camps for refugees and displaced families.

Among the refugees located in the camps are vast numbers of children, estimated to be around 60% of the total population. These children are facing significant threats to their physical security, development and wellbeing.

Families are also struggling with worsening food shortages that mean half of the families in South Sudan aren't even sure if they will get to eat every day. For children, the food shortage is particularly dangerous.

The most recent household and health survey – before the latest influx of refugees – found in young children under the age of five:

  • Over one in four children are underweight
  • Nearly one in three children are stunted (short and underdeveloped due to chronic malnutrition)
  • Nearly one in four children are wasted (suffered rapid loss of muscle and fat due to acute malnutrition)

In response, Save the Children is sustaining its lifesaving and life-changing programs for South Sudanese children. Our relief workers are supporting the distribution of vital shelter and other critical humanitarian aid. Learn more and find out how you can help.

Impact and Results

As health is the first step towards recovery, Save the Children manages 61 primary health care facilities with local partners. Our centers treat children with diarrhea, malaria and respiratory infections – which untreated can be life-threatening. In 2010, more than 111,000 children received health treatment at the facilities.

Maternal health is supported through prenatal care, labor and delivery services and postnatal care services. We also offer preventive and public health programs including immunizations, education, hygiene and sanitation.

As South Sudan's refugees return from countries with high rates of HIV/AIDS infection, there is the potential for a spike in Sudan's relatively low HIV infection rate. Save the Children has worked with local partners to make voluntary counseling and testing available at health centers.

Child protection efforts includes training, education and services. In 2010, we helped reunite 150 children who were separated by conflict from their families, including some who were forced to be child soldiers. These young survivors now have access to social protection and livelihoods.

Save the Children is also improving the quality of education by training teachers and tutors, as well as by making sure schools have latrines, clean water and teaching materials. In 2010, over 155,000 children were provided quality education in schools supported by Save the Children, up 88% from 2009.

South Sudan Facts and Statistics

  • Population:11,562,695
  • Child Death Rate: 104 in 1,000 live births
  • Life Expectancy: 4.5 years
  • Underweight Children: 32.5%
  • Maternal Death Risk: 1 in 31 women
  • Girls' Education: 6 Average Years in School
  • Income per capita: 790 (USD)


Unless otherwise noted, facts and statistics have been sourced from Save the Children’s 2014 State of the World’s Mothers report.You can access detailed data here.

Other sources as follows: Population and Life Expectancy: CIA World Factbook 2014; Human Development Rank: United Nations Development Programme 2014; Underweight Children: World Health Organization Report 2014

Last Updated December 2014

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