Early in 2016, Global Communities and Catholic Relief Services (CRS) conducted a mixed-method baseline assessment for its Promoting Resilience through Ongoing Participatory Engagement and Learning (PROPEL) program funded by USAID. This report provides an analysis of the baseline values of each of PROPEL’s 16 target communities through a mixed-method approach incorporating qualitative data to explain the “why” of quantitative findings. Second, it provides guidance for future field operations and a set of recommendations for follow-up to elicit lessons learned. Third, it will inform a recommended community-driven development (CDD) approach for USAID implementing partners in South Sudan.
Baseline quantitative and qualitative data collected in all 16 target communities shows important features of social cohesion and capacity for collective action in each community. In general, there is a basis for CDD work found in strong norms of community consultation for decision-making, conflict resolution dialogue, and an ethic of working together for the benefit of the whole. All the communities have active community-based groups, and with the exception of Jebel (a recent, unplanned community in Juba) all have councils of elders. Traditional leadership is important in all areas, although at the same time communities are acutely aware of a lack of government leadership especially in the provision of security and law and order. This gap is filled by the youth, in some cases creating further problems and hardship as this sparks further conflicts. Communities have very negative perceptions of their ability to meet their households’ basic needs. However, communities are keenly aware of their own priorities in terms of infrastructure (particularly roads, boreholes, schools and community centers), the need for farming inputs (tools and seeds), and vocational skills training, particularly for youth. Their needs are founded by a desire to address hardships that leave them vulnerable to shocks, as well as the resource shortages and lack of opportunities that lead to conflict.