In September 2011, Florence Bayoa, Country Director of Alliance South Sudan (pictured right), and Dr. Esterina Novello Nylock, Chairperson of the South Sudan HIV/AIDS Commission visited the UK at the invitation of the Alliance’s What’s Preventing Prevention? campaign. Here they speak about their work together in South Sudan.
Florence Bayoa (FB): The Alliance has been working in South Sudan since 2005. In 2009 we signed a memorandum of understanding with the Southern Sudan AIDS Commission (SSAC) to be the lead agency in strengthening civil society in the response to HIV and to support the development of people living with HIV networks and groups.
Dr Esternina Novello Nylock (ENN): The relation between the South Sudan HIV/AIDS Commission and Alliance South Sudan is very strong. They are our ‘right arm’ in terms of providing services to communities. They operate where the government cannot reach. They are connected to the grassroots communities. Alliance South Sudan represents communities; they are among them and are trying to help them.
FB: Alliance South Sudan is currently supporting 90 community based organisations across 23 counties in 8 State of Southern Sudan’s 10 states: 70 in Central and Eastern Equatoria as well as a further 20 in Western Equatoria, Western Bahr El- Ghazal and Upper Nile States. The work has been funded through a multitude of short-term projects / grants.
Specifically, we have been implementing a one year project funded by the Department for International Development on maternal and child health. As a result, Alliance South Sudan has laid down strong foundations for policy work, including the creation of an engaged National Partnership Platform (NPP) and the launch of a Coalition for Maternal Neonatal and Child Health campaign.
ENN: ASS have been particularly good at mobilising communities to access services, and at raising the issues of maternal and neo-natal health. As a result of their work, there has been an increased uptake in PMTCT services. Initially there were only three referral hospitals and only a few PMTCT sites. However, in collaboration with ASS and the wider civil society, we have managed to scale up this provision to 52 PMTCT sites.
FB: Alliance South Sudan has just developed a new organisational strategy for the next three years. This includes transitioning from a Country Office of the Alliance, to a fully independent national NGO that becomes a linking organisation of the Alliance. As a result we will be transitioning to a national NGO – but taking with us the international capacity that we have developed over the last six years.
ENN: one of the key advantages of working with ASS is that their high technical and organisational capacity. This is often one of the key limitations around working with civil society in South Sudan. Being part of an international network like the Alliance ensures that ASS – though a local organisation – you know that their services will continue to form a sustainable legacy for the country, and that they are not imposing a different agenda and ideology.
I support 100% the idea of country ownership. If you have an indigenous organisation supporting the community, then they have a strong sense of ownership around the services on offer.
FB: With the continued support of the Alliance global partnership, Alliance South Sudan hopes to be able to sustain and build on its current capacity and develop an organisation that communities in South Sudan can count on to deliver effective health services.
 US Government/JSI Supporting community Action on HIV/AIDS and SHTP 1 civil society capacity building grant; US Government/FHI Roads 2; UNDP IGA grant for PLHIV; UNFPA and MDTF/CHF.