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Within and Without the State

Within and Without the State in South Sudan

At a glance

Within and Without the State aims to improve the quality and effectiveness of civil society programming in fragile and conflict-affected settings.


Within and Without the State (WWS) is a five-year global initiative (2011-2016) funded by DfID's Conflict, Humanitarian and Security programme. This has enabled Oxfam to pilot a variety of approaches to working with civil society to promote more accountable governance in conflict-affected and fragile contexts. Oxfam is committed to go beyond humanitarian service delivery to work on strengthening governance in order to tackle the underlying causes of fragility. WWS has a component which captures and shares knowledge and learning about what makes programming in these settings effective. Outside agencies may have technical quick fixes, but active and organised citizens are the ones who must oversee the long term changes which will transform society. Gathering evidence of how to make this transformation happen so lessons are captured and learned is a key aspect of WWS.

Where we work

Within and Without the State works in the following countries:


In Kabul we have been working to strengthen a civil society network and peace process (including empowering women to take part). In Kunduz, we work with women and religious leaders on resolving conflict, tackling harmful traditional practices, and expanding the culture of tolerance. Find out more about our work in Afghanistan.

Occupied Palestinian Territories / Israel

In Gaza, we are building the capacity of NGOs and community-based organisations to address the specific needs of women with disabilities and their access to essential services. This involves working with community groups to develop contingency plans should conflict erupt again. Find out more about our work in Gaza.

South Sudan

In  South Sudan we are building cooperation and accountability between civil society and the state as well strengthening women's empowerment at the household level and local level peace mediation. Find out more about our work in South Sudan.

Democratic Republic of Congo

We are beginning a programme in Equateur modelled on the Community Protection Committees in Eastern Congo. These identify protection issues and work between communities and armed groups to broker peaceful solutions. Find out more about our work in the DRC.

Yemen (suspended)

Following  the 2011 uprising, increasing tensions between the northern Shia Houthi and the Hadi regime escalated into full-scale civil war in Spring 2015 with a Saudi-led bombing campaign causing widespread casualties and loss to vital infrastructure.

WWS began its focus on Yemen in Phase I of the programme in 2013 with some inputs into governance structures and identifying development plans that would benefit local communities. WWS worked with local CSO groups to help them identify their strengths and weaknesses as well as supporting them in developing their role in civil society.

The context however, was rapidly shifting and a new opportunity was identified as the power between the state, regions and local administrative areas was being re-negotiated by the Constitutional Drafting Committee. The aim of Phase II was to work with civil society in two governorates (Aden and Hodeidah) in order to coordinate with the local government on district investment plans. WWS also sought to work with CSOs to influence legislation on the new constitution which was in development and secure free access to basic services for those with special needs.

When widespread fighting erupted in March 2015 it became increasingly difficult for the country office to operate. The focus shifted to the humanitarian response and it became very hard for civil society groups to function. The country programme reluctantly decided to suspend WWS activities to avoid putting CSOs at further risk from armed groups.

What we've learned

Fragile & Conflict Affected Context Learning Event

February, 2016

For the first time in Oxfam's history, programme managers working in some of the most challenging places gathered to share insights, learn from each other and map the way forward. In total 18 countries were represented from Afghanistan to South Sudan, Gaza and Niger. Participants shared the challenges of effective programming, conflict sensitivity, gender and MEAL.  We've taken time to capture the learning from the event as well as including links to helpful guides to support you in your work. We've included next steps as well as what we learned about conflict sensitivity, gender, working with unexpected allies and the beginnings of joint programmes. This was an important first step for Oxfam to have four affiliates from 18 different countries to grow together in our appreciation of the challenges of working in such contexts.