Food rations saving lives in Mangala County, South Sudan
“This is the first time that my community has received large quantities of food per household from an organization”. These were the words of 75-year-old Emelia Keji Bojur Boma in South Sudan when she received a ration of pulses to supplement her diet.
The protracted conflict and the ongoing economic crisis in South Sudan are negatively impacting farming activities which has led to food insecurity. Although there was a harvest season in September 2017, a report from a Needs Assessment conducted by the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission indicates that 6 million people (56% of the total population) were severely food insecure. Out of these 40,000 were in humanitarian catastrophe at a household level and 2 million were facing emergency food insecurity. However, an anticipated earlier than normal start of the lean season resulted in an estimated 5.1 million (48% of the total population) people being classified as severely food insecure in January-March 2018.
The result is that food prices in Juba are high. The cost of staple foods has risen by more than 100% in most markets, while the increment ranges between 25% to 100% in a few markets. In Juba, a 100 kg bag of sorghum costs 11,285 South Sudanese Pounds (SSP), compared to 4,314 SSP a year ago. As household incomes have remained stagnant in the midst of the wide-spread economic crisis, it is difficult for poor and very poor market-dependent households to absorb increasing food prices and meet their minimum food requirements.
With support from the World Food Programme (WFP), Action Africa Help International (AAH-I) is implementing a general food distribution and cash assistance project to close this gap. The overall objective is to contribute to improved food security and nutrition status of at least 10,500 vulnerable food insecure households in selected Payams of Juba County. This is expected to be achieved through; improve short term access to food for food insecure communities in Mangala Payam through General Food Distribution and to provide livelihood support and build resilience of flood affected persons in Gondokoro Payam through Cash Assistance for Assets.
Mangalla and Gondokoro Counties, both in Jubek State, suffered a devastating flood between August and September 2017. The flood wiped away peoples’ livelihood and destroyed property and food reserves. Five Bomas in Gondokoro (Nyoli, Somba, Kango, Moli and Moninyak) were affected, leaving at least 4,000 persons in need of support. In Mangalla County, 7 Bomas (Gabo, Bajulu, Dibali, Logo, Tukele, Jokoki, and Mangalla) were affected, destroying livelihoods for 7,000 people.
“We are grateful to AAH-I because they distributed the food at a right time when the community has started land preparation and planting for the next season. These food rations will give us adequate energy for cultivation and will push us until the next harvesting season”, said Catholic Priest for Mangalla Church Father James Pitya. Cicilia Poni from Mangala Center agrees. “The food we have received will save our lives in this crisis. May God bless AAH-I and WFP.”
The project kicked off in January 2018 and is expected to run until December 2018. To date a total of 1,795 households (10,500 persons) have received food items such as cereals (157,500 Kgs), pulses (3,940 Kgs), vegetable cooking oil (14,400 litres) and salt (2,500 kgs). Community food management committees have been established at each distribution site. The committees are responsible for organizing the beneficiaries, checking and verifying distribution lists and managing the food scoping exercise. Under the Cash assistance for Assets aspect of the project, the community is guided to choose a food production activity which will be implemented by the community. Each project participant is required to work for 15 days a month for a six month period (90 days of assistance).
“Over 30 non-governmental organizations have come to register people in large numbers, but AAH-I is the only agency that has fulfilled their promise and actually did the food distribution in our time of need. The food will save us and our children,” said Anyeze Igale from Mankaro Boma.