Friday, March 21, 2014

South Sudan: Nowhere to Go - Displaced and returnee women seeking housing, land and property rights in South Sudan

Source: Norwegian Refugee Council and ReliefWeb

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It is hard to overestimate the importance of land in South Sudan. The struggle for access to and control of land has shaped the nation’s history. The desire to control land and natural resources drove the five decade-long war for independence which resulted in the proclamation of the Republic of South Sudan in 2011. Land remains an abiding preoccupation. It acts as an identifier of community, belonging and place as well as a source of income, subsistence and survival.

Conflict and displacement have complicated traditional arrangements and for, the large part, exacerbated the situation for women but also provided some new opportunities. Conflict changed the nature of contemporary society in South Sudan, requiring many women to support families by themselves. A significant impact of the conflict has been the increased number of women who are widowed, abandoned or divorced. Many female headed households which have returned to South Sudan lack access to secure land on which to live, build or grow crops. Women had to take on roles of provider, protector and carer, yet many lack the security of tenure to enable sustainable livelihoods and achieving durable solutions.

This report looks at constraints affecting displaced and returnee women seeking to realise their housing, land and property (HLP) rights. It is based on field research in three states in South Sudan where NRC has operational presence, Central Equatoria, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap states. Many of the women and men interviewed had been displaced multiple times – within South Sudan, to Sudan or to other neighbouring countries.