Nateba Lokorio, a single mother who cares for her two daughters, her mother, and her two elderly aunts in the rural county of Kapoeta North in South Sudan, says she has received a “wonderful” gift: “My household is now guaranteed a meal each day of the week.”
This was made possible by a food distribution project led by the Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund (PWRDF) in the state of Eastern Equatoria that is benefiting 1,799 South Sudanese households—8,960 individuals.
The project, which has a budget of $375,024, was funded through PWRDF’s equity in Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a 4:1 match from Global Affairs Canada and a contribution of $100,000 from the United Church of Canada. PWRDF is the relief and development agency of the Anglican Church of Canada.
The county of Kapoeta North, populated by the agro pastoralist Toposa tribe, lies in an arid zone, says PWRDF Humanitarian Response Co-ordinator Naba Gurung. Among the reasons Kapoeta was chosen for the project, he says, was that the food security situation in the county was described as critical, because of two consecutive years of minimal rainfall that led to crop failure. “The area was also the only location in South Sudan cited to be in a severe drought situation.”
Prolonged armed conflict in South Sudan also continues to hamper food security in the country.
Food staples such as sorghum, maize and wheat flour have increased in price in South Sudan by up to 281% compared to last year, according to a joint release by UNICEF, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the UN World Food Program (WFP).
In 2018, it is likely that the “hungry season”—when households run short of food before the next harvest—will begin three months earlier than usual, and more than 1.1 million children under the age of five will be malnourished, including almost 300,000 “severely malnourished” and at heightened risk of death.
Through PWRDF’s assistance project, food is distributed monthly, with the third and final distribution set to take place just before Christmas. The Adventist Development Relief Agency (ADRA) in South Sudan distributes the food, with PWRDF responsible for administration of the project.
These funds have enabled the purchase of 201.6 tonnes of sorghum, 26.88 tonnes of beans, 16.13 tonnes of cooking oil and 4.03 tonnes of salt, as well as transportation and staff support, said PWRDF.
Gurung says that the project helps individuals and households affected by hunger to get at least two meals per day (ADRA Canada’s baseline survey showed that the majority of households in the area were only eating between one and two meals per day), “so that they can continue engaging in some productive farming or pastoral activities, or pursue other productive livelihood options within their communities.” The majority of people in these communities, he says, rely on food rations provided by UN agencies and civil society organizations.
Among those who have received food through the program is 25-year-old Lotum Longolio, who lives with her husband and three children. “My household will at least have an increased meal portion today and we shall eat twice a day, compared to the past where my household barely survived on very little millet, [which] we ate once a day,” she told an ADRA South Sudan aid worker. Longolio, who is deaf and mute, was able to receive assistance via ADRA’s house-to-house registration, which ensures people with disabilities can be included in the program.
PWRDF also contributed funds to a similar project that ran from June to September 2017.