Relief, Rehabilitation and Hope in Sudan
After years of war, hope is returning to the Aweil South County in the Northern Bahr el Ghazal region of Souther Sudan, but the need is still great. Families who had been forced to flee the area because of fighting in the region are beginning to return. Although farmers have been working hard to plant crops and create a secure and dependable food supply for the area, their produce will not be enough to provide for a community that is swelling with families returning home. Floods in some parts of the area, as well as poor rainfall patterns in others, have added to the trouble, destroying approximately 35% of the farm produce that families managed to grow. Although the overall malnutrition rate has decreased because of World Relief’s recent relief work in this area, it does still exist to an alarming degree. It must be addressed immediately and for the long-term through building the capacity of local farmers to provide for the needs of their own families and community. In order for the work in this area to truly move from relief (immediate help) to rehabilitation (long-term hope), we must conquer things like the malnutrition rate. It would be too easy for the population to slip backwards in their fight against extreme poverty, instead of move forward as they are so very ready to do. This is no small challenge in a remote community with a huge returning population. It is estimated that over 300,000 people have returned home to Southern Sudan since the signing of the peace accord in 2005. They desperately desire to return to their homes and their lives — as anyone would — but they are returning to communities mired in terrible poverty who have been struggling to meet immediate food needs, let alone plan for the future. That is where World Relief Canada can play an essential role. And we need to do it immediately to stop the malnutrition rate in its tracks, put it in reverse, and then work with the families to move forward in creating a secure and nutritious food supply. The direct beneficiaries of this project are malnourished children and their mothers or caregivers as well as pregnant and lactating women. And who could need our help more? World Relief Canada, with your partnership, will improve the nutritional status of 4500 moderately malnourished children under five and 1000 pregnant or lactating mothers. We will improve the nutritional status of 1000 severely malnourished children under five, while building the capacity of the community and local health staff to diagnose and treat malnutrition themselves. We know that in order for children to grow strong, their families need to be strong and healthy. This project will improve the general hygiene practices of 5500 caretakers of malnourished children and 1000 pregnant and lactating mothers. And to build their future even stronger, we will focus on increasing the availability of nutritious food and teach farmers how to farm even better so that their crops will be diverse and sustainable. The production of a high-energy porridge — using local and available food — will be an indispensable part of what we do in this part of Southern Sudan. We are also working with farmers to acquaint them with the benefits of using their highly-prized cattle as work animals for plowing fields, which increases productivity dramatically. We need your help and partnership to keep this project going. We have seen the difference we are making in this area already. Gardens have been planted. And they are growing. Now is the moment we can begin to move this community from relief to rehabilitation, instead of going back the other way. A five person Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) Delegation just returned from a visit to South Sudan. WRC is an equity member of CFGB and we are endeavouring to increase our programming in the Aweil Integrated Nutrition program there. This trip was part of the exploring process to make that happen. The Aweil program has been primarily a nutrition and therapeutic feeding program, but during this last year our partner has begun addressing the issue of food security. This includes providing ox plows and training to farmers and their animals. The Dinka people in the area are pastoralists, and keeping cattle is not a new idea. Using the animals for plowing however, requires a new way of thinking, as they typically think of their cattle as an investment. Aweil is an arid area, and in order for a family to feed itself, they need to be able to plow and plant enough land. That is hard to do using a hand held hoe. In addition to the animal traction initiative, farmers have been given good quality early maturing sorghum and millet seeds. This visit was important for WRCanada to share how our partner has been working. It was a good way for us to share the challenges, frustrations and successes of working in a hostile environment, in a very remote part of South Sudan. Other members were able to see what is possible, and are better informed about the high cost of programming in South Sudan, especially as it relates to communication, travel and transportation in this vast land. The needs in South Sudan are overwhelming. Much of the population has lived in camps during the years of war, and have developed a dependency syndrome. We hope and pray that the work being done by our partners will result in people feeding themselves, as they move from dependency to being more fully in control of their lives in days to come.
Monday, October 12, 2009
Here are 2 pictures of Gerald And Darla's Kernels of Hope harvest at Kinistino !
Nighttime and Daytime ... The difference being made to people in South Awiel County in Sudan is exactly the same, the difference between night and day...
Thanks to everyone who contributed this year enabling us to improve the lives and give Hope to so many.