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The South Sudan research programme

South Sudan – the world’s youngest state – had been at war for almost half a century. The long armed conflict devastated the lives and livelihoods of millions of South Sudanese, as well as government and state institutions, resulting in severely limited capacity, an erosion of legitimacy, and a need to build state-society relations nearly from scratch.

After only two years of independence, South Sudan finds itself again – or still – mired in conflict. Tensions over resources and power-sharing within the ruling SPLM party sparked violence in December 2013, resulting in what some regard as renewed civil war. The Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) is now fractured and fighting, and falling further behind on promises to build effective service delivery systems and infrastructure, even in peaceful areas. International engagement with GRSS, which previously focused on institution-building, has now shifted almost entirely to a humanitarian response, echoing decades of relief efforts supporting populations displaced by violence and struggling to feed their families. Yet again, the threat of famine looms large in parts of South Sudan.

Due to the renewed conflict, the SLRC South Sudan Research Programme has widened its focus from “post-conflict” state-building and livelihoods, to exploring the enormous challenges now facing South Sudanese people and their government. We are rigorously investigating the following research topics:

  1. Building a new South Sudan: How does the delivery of basic services and social protection in South Sudan affect the internal dimensions of state-building and state formation?
  2. Finding the right balance: How do, and how should, international aid organisations engage with the South Sudanese state in order to improve state capacity to deliver social protection and basic services?
  3. Livelihood trajectories: Post-conflict livelihood recovery in South Sudan
  4. Historical and current dimensions of the present crisis and humanitarian response, including the nature of engagement between international agencies and the state, and the unintended impact of humanitarian response

More information

The team

Our South Sudan research programme is being led by the Feinstein International Center (FIC) based at Tufts University in conjunction with Swisspeace and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  

Contact us

Feinstein International Center
Tufts University
114 Curtis Street
Massachusetts 02144
Tel: (617) 627-3423
Email: slrc@odi.org.uk
Title Author Summary Country Date
Statebuilding and legitimacy: experiences of South Sudan Leben Moro, Martina Santschi, Rachel Gordon, Philip Dau and Daniel Maxwell This report uses South Sudan as an example to interrogate people’s perceptions of the state, asking what – if not service delivery – fosters state legitimacy. South Sudan 10/05/2017
Key lessons learned on international engagement Daniel Maxwell, Rachel Gordon, Leben Moro, Martina Santschi and Philip Dau Are technical solutions the best way to address political problems? This briefing paper examines what international aid policymakers and practitioners can learn from the history of international engagement with South Sudan prior to and during the current conflict South Sudan 31/10/2016
Complexities of service delivery and state-building Daniel Maxwell, Rachel Gordon, Leben Moro, Martina Santschi and Philip Dau If investment in service delivery does not lead to improved views of the state, what can? This brief sums up six years of research in South Sudan and recommends a rethink in state-building priorities for both internal and external actors alike South Sudan 31/10/2016
Livelihoods and conflict in South Sudan Daniel Maxwell, Rachel Gordon, Leben Moro, Martina Santschi and Philip Dau Does the end of civil war and the redirection of resources to state institutions really bring about a ‘peace dividend’ that boosts livelihoods? This brief sums up six years of research in South Sudan and recommends a rethink in the way aid actors approach livelihoods and recovery South Sudan 31/10/2016
Trajectories of international engagement with state and local actors: Evidence from South Sudan Daniel Maxwell, Rachel Gordon, Leben Moro, Martina Santschi and Philip Dau In the wake of South Sudan’s Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005, optimism abounded that investment in state-building would produce numerous benefits including peace, stability, growth and economic opportunities. This paper considers why that optimism proved to be unjustified South Sudan 29/06/2016
Questions and Challenges Raised by a Large-Scale Humanitarian Operation in South Sudan Daniel Maxwell, Martina Santschi, Leben Moro, Rachel Gordon, Philip Dau This paper reports on field research conducted in South Sudan during October 2014 in Juba, Mingkaman (Lakes State) and Ganyiel (Unity State) inquiring into the nature of the humanitarian response carried during the current conflict and the questions and challenges raised by it. South Sudan 28/05/2015
Looking back to look ahead? Reviewing key lessons from Operation Lifeline Sudan and past humanitarian operations in South Sudan Daniel Maxwell, Martina Santschi and Rachel Gordon This paper reviews large-scale humanitarian operations in South Sudan, focusing on what lessons can be learnt from Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS) South Sudan 01/10/2014
Livelihoods, access to services and perceptions of governance: An analysis of Pibor county, South Sudan from the perspective of displaced people Martina Santschi, Leben Moro, Philip Dau, Rachel Gordon and Daniel Maxwell This paper analyses people's perceptions of their former livelihoods, access to basic services and governance in Pibor County prior to the escalation of violence across South Sudan. South Sudan 23/09/2014
From post-conflict recovery and state building to a renewed humanitarian emergency: A brief reflection on South Sudan This paper is a brief reflection on the current situation in South Sudan, based on meetings with the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, donors, humanitarian agencies, and members of South Sudanese civil society during a two-week mission in mid- to late June. South Sudan 13/08/2014
Surveying livelihoods, service delivery and governance: baseline evidence from South Sudan Marco d’Errico, Karolina Kozlowska and Daniel Maxwell In 2012, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), with inputs from the SLRC, implemented the first round of an original sub-regional panel survey in South Sudan aimed to produce data on people's livelihoods, access to and experience of basic services, and people’s perceptions of governance. South Sudan 11/08/2014