Equipping the Vulnerable in South Sudan
This month CRWRC is launching a new livelihood initiative for families in the Republic of South Sudan who have returned to the region after living as refugees for decades. In partnership with the World Food Programme, this five-month Food for Assets (FFA) program will provide a partial food ration as well as equip 980 South Sudanese returnees throughout Yei River County, Central Equatoria with the agricultural tools and training they need for fruitful livelihoods in the world’s newest country.
CRWRC has been at work in South Sudan for the past three years, joining with communities to improve agricultural production and food security. While that program continues, this new project was started in response to the recent influx of South Sudanese into their region of origin.
In 2010, there were approximately 700,000 South Sudanese living in the Northern part of what was then known as Sudan. Having fled there to escape violence during Sudan’s decades-long civil war, many of these Southern families have little recollection of their original homelands. When the conflict ended in 2010, however, families left refugee camps and hundreds of thousands of South Sudanese returned to this region to begin to make a life for themselves.
Last year, South Sudan declared its independence and became its own country. The government of Sudan asked all South Sudanese living in the North to switch their citizenship and set a May 8, 2012 deadline. Those that did not conform to this mandate have now been expelled, causing a mass return to South Sudan.
Although South Sudan is rich in agricultural land, most returnees have neither the training nor the tools to make a living after so many years in camps and the industrial-based economy of the North. Some are elderly caretakers providing for children abandoned by their parents. Others have been abandoned by their own spouses. Inflation has also led to rising food costs, increasing the risk of extreme poverty. As a result, many families have gone down to one meal a day in order to survive.
“You cannot help but be moved talking to these people,” said Albert Dizon, CRWRC South Sudan Country Representative and Program Director, speaking of the returnees he has met facing these very situations. “They know they are in an urgent situation, and they are eager to help themselves.”
CRWRC’s new FFA project is specifically targeting the most vulnerable returnees—the elderly, the disabled still able to work, and the women who are the sole household providers. It was planned and developed in consultation with the Returnees Association in Yei River County, and will provide a food subsidy as well as equip families with the tools and training they need to grow and harvest their own food.
The participants will learn basic agricultural practices, and then open their own acre of land in four areas of Yei River County. CRWRC will provide them with seed, tools and a daily ration of cereal, pulses, oil and salt in exchange for their labor.
The project is structured in such a way that after new returnees are trained and mentored in farming techniques and practice they will train others already living in South Sudan.
“This formula allows two kinds of families and individuals to be helped at the same time. New residents and those already established can work the land together,” explains Dizon.
It is estimated that 6,780 members of resident communities will receive better food security as a result of the project.
“We’re hoping the participants will be able to continue on and make their agricultural livelihoods sustainable,” says Dizon. “And God willing we will be able to see more projects like this for returnees in need.”
“The partnership with the WFP (World Food Programme) is very exciting as WFP will provide some of the funding for the costs of running the training as well as the food. This is the first time CRWRC South Sudan has received funding from the WFP and may be the beginning of a great new relationship” adds Ken Little, Senior Project Manager. “But not all the costs of the project are covered by the agreement, so it is critical that additional funds be found to cover the costs of the seeds and tools.”
Please join with CRWRC in praying for these brothers and sisters as they learn new agricultural techniques and build a society in the new Republic of South Sudan. Your donations are also needed.
Gifts can be given online (US | Canada) by selecting “Republic of South Sudan” from the “Disasters International” menu.
Donations marked “South Sudan” can also be sent to:
2850 Kalamazoo Ave SE
Grand Rapids, MI 49560
P.O. Box 5070 STN LCD
Burlington, Ontario, L7R 3Y8
~ by Adele Konyndyk, CRWRC Communications