“One year with NAC and CSSN is equal to 4 years SSURA took to breakthrough in Arua city.”. Said Batali the Programs Coordinator of the South Sudan Refugee Association-SSURA.

SSURA is one of the refugee-led and serving organizations selected to participate and benefit from the Open Civic Space for youth project in Arua since January 2022. The Open Civic Space project is one of the signature projects between NAC and CSSN in partnership with Dreamtown. The project looked at supporting 30 Youth-led Community based organizations with an overall objective of “Strengthened organizational resilience and eased operating environment of youth-led CSOs in Arua.”  Among the key components of the project include (i) the Youth CSO Hub and (ii) the Civil Society Strengthening Academy these components have supported over 30 organizations with Increased knowledge and strengthened the capacity of youth-led CSOs, their networks, shared resources, and joint actions for youth-led CSOs to operate as effective civil society actors.

SSURA before the project was registered in Koboko District as a CBO in 2016 and due to the high demand for self-settled refugee support from Arua, the board of SSURA agreed to expand to Arua city and support more urban youth and women.

Despite the board aspiration, it was not easy for them to have physical presence in the district because of the resources needed to get registered and also have an address. Since 2019 SSURA only had a district coordinator and its until January 2022 when they were selected to be among the 30 organizations to benefit from the project.

“When we were selected for the project that marked our turning point our capacity was enhanced both technically and administratively to be able to operate as effective CSOs”. Through the project, SSURA managed to register as a CBO with the City Authority, registered with the Uganda National Registration Bureau as one of the primary processes for NGO registration, and is among the hosted CSOs at the Hub. All this was made possible through the technical, administrative and financial support from the project. “Sometimes when I seat at SSURA Office, I feel like am dreaming because I can’t believe how 2022 was very magical to us.” Said Batali Gabriel Modi.

As a result of having an address at the hub officially registered and complying with the CSO regulatory framework in Uganda, SSURA as selected to coordinate an Oxfam-Canada-funded project “Stand Up for Sexual Reproductive Health and Rights” a 5 years consortium project implemented in 5 districts of west Nile region.

As a result of their legal registration in Arua city, and the existence of the CSO Hub, SSURA has been able to mobilize 27 women-led saving groups commonly known as Village Savings and Loans Associations (VSLA) in terms of individual reach, they have so far been able to coordinate and mobilize 675 individuals of which 90% are female urban poor mothers. “This project has not only supported us to grow but it has completely transformed us. It has given us more relevancy and given us the capacity to be impactful to the self-settled refugees in Arua.” Said Malish Bonjira the Deputy Executive Director of SSURA.