27/07/2021 - The COVID-19 crisis in South Sudan is more than a national health emergency.
South Sudan relies heavily on imports of basic food items from neighbouring countries, making the country’s economy extremely vulnerable to economic shocks. After the closure of the borders with Sudan and Uganda, prices of imported food and commodities at local markets skyrocketed while availability diminished. The pandemic further highlighted the vulnerability of urban populations, especially families headed by women.
The government of Canada and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are joining forces to support vulnerable South Sudanese whose livelihoods were disrupted by the effects of the pandemic.
With a contribution of CAD 3 million, Canada is enabling FAO to provide food and livelihood support to city dwellers affected by market shocks during the pandemic. The project aims to reach around 120 000 people in the urban centers of the Greater Equatoria region, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile States.
“COVID-19 has devastated the lives and livelihoods of many, but we must search for the silver lining amidst the pandemic,” said Meshack Malo, FAO Representative in South Sudan, “Thanks to Canada’s generosity we are helping city dwellers get back on their feet, by enabling them to grow their own food for household consumption as well as for commercialization, equipping them to withstand future shock.”
So far, FAO has distributed 20 000 sachets of vegetable and crop seeds, 20 000 essential farming tools like rakes and malodas, 800 watering cans and 90 solar irrigation water pumps. Distributions of seeds and tool are consistently accompanied by training whereby farmers learn proper planting techniques to maximize harvest of fast-growing crops which will provide nutritious foods for their families.
FAO is also providing hands-on training to farmers on the establishment and management of home gardens such as vertical gardens or growing vegetable in sacks or containers. These techniques enable vulnerable urban farmers to grow nutritious and quick-maturing vegetable crops, even in limited spaces.
The donation is also contributing to reducing the health risks of COVID-19 transmission, promoting adequate sanitation and hygiene measures in the markets, as well as disinfecting fish markets and slaughterhouses.
The project supports income-generation activities through improved practices in vegetable production for female farmers and families headed by women, and is boosting their production capacity to be more self-sufficient and less susceptible to domestic violence.