South Sudan

Survived on wild fruits and water lilies

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A displaced woman from Jonglei state said her family survived on wild fruits and water lilies for over two months after they arrived in Tombek Payam (district) of Terekeka County in South Sudan’s Central Equatoria state.

08.05.2014 | Tamama Norbert Mansfield

“My family ran to Tombek in December last year due to fighting in Jonglei state. We had no food when we arrived here. We survived on wild fruits and water lilies,” said Mrs. Rhoda Ajok, from Kolyang Payam of Bor County in Jonglei state.

Norwegian People Aid (NPA) first delivered food to displaced persons (IDPs) in Tombek on March 8. The organization distributes food to 8,600 IDPs in Terekeka County every month. “The people of Tombek are kind. They shared their little food with us,” said the mother of five children, as she prepared an evening meal for her family, in front of their makeshift shelter, built of local materials and grey tarpaulin delivered by NPA. “My family hopes to return home after the fighting is over,” Ajok said, as NPA distributed 38.082 metric tonne of food from WFP (World Food Programme) to 2,178 IDPs. “For now we need hoes and seeds to help us cultivate,” she added. “The IDPs are living in harmony with the host community who has given them land to cultivate crops,” said Mr. John Ayang the administrator of Tombek Payam.

He said that a bigger challenge is health services. “There is one health center in Tombek but it lacks some of the essential drugs. Sick people are often referred to get services in Awerial County of Lakes state, several kilometers from here,” he stated.

Tombek is hosting over 2,000 IDPs from Jonglei state. Fewer men are seen in the camp at day time, as most of them are on the Islands in the White Nile River, grazing their cattle.

In the Camp, women could be seen building new makeshift shelters. They are weary of the rainy season, which is just around the corner. “The wind is strong here. That’s why the tarpaulins given to us by NPA in February are getting damaged. We are requesting for stronger tarpaulins,” said Martha Ajak as she gestured towards the river, less than 200 meters away, where a group of children happily enjoyed their swim.

Most of the IDPs use water from the river for domestic use. A new borehole has been built by another agency near the camp.

NPA plans to distribute seeds, hoes and fishing kits to the IDPs in May. The organisation in partnership with WFP has so far distributed 642 metric tonne of food to 68,000 IDPs in Lakes, Upper Nile, Jonglei and Central Equatoria states.

NPA started working in South Sudan in 1986, giving humanitarian assistance to the people who were in need of relief aid. The organization works in the main areas of; humanitarian mine action/disarmament, food security and livelihood, health services and support to civil society development.