In spite of difficult circumstances, VWB/VSF and its partners VSF Germany and VSF Suisse have made remarkable gains in their efforts to improve food security among small holder farmers in two regions of South Sudan.
Times are tough in the world’s newest country. A lethal combination of conflict, hyper-inflation, and regional food shortages in Eastern Africa has pushed food insecurity in South Sudan to the highest levels since 2010. According to the latest report from the World Food Program’s Foods Security and Nutrition Monitoring System (FSNMS) more than two thirds of the households in South Sudan are facing moderate to severe food insecurity with the real prospect of hunger or even starvation for as many as a million people. Yet the VWB/VSF team has recorded remarkable success. One hundred and fifty community animal health workers have been trained and have received supply kits to allow them to perform basic animal health services. In turn they have vaccinated and treated the animals of some 2,000 smallholder livestock owners. More than 400 farmers—both men and women—have received animal traction training. This is an intensive, three week program that not only teaches farmers to work effectively with draught animals – both donkeys and oxen – but provides them with the skills to teach other farmers. Trainees learn how to select the animals for training, how to safely and humanely harness and train them, effective cultivation techniques, including spacing and weeding, and how to integrate animal ploughs into conservation agriculture practices on the farm. By using traction animals, farmers are able to dramatically increase the quantity of food produced by increasing the amount of land under cultivation,
More than a dozen farmer field schools have been initiated through the project, training farmers to produce more and better food, and providing an avenue for the distribution of seeds and tools. That includes 3,000 mango seedlings that have been distributed to 900 individuals. As well, 11 women’s vegetable production groups have been formed, and five of them have been equipped with treadle pumps to allow them to irrigate their crops during the long dry season. A number of wells have also been dug for that purpose. Several hundred people, mostly girls and women, have been trained in the hygienic handling of milk and milk products and in marketing milk and vegetables. The latest project, which was completed in March, 2017, was a complex and multi-faceted one, but the goal was simple – help farmers produce as much food as possible to feed themselves, their families, and help them make a modest living. Clearly, VWB/VSF’s project alone will not stave off catastrophe. But even as relief programs are gearing up to prevent a humanitarian disaster, this project, and others like it, are taking the longer view to a time when South Sudan will be able to feed itself once again. This project was funded by the Government of Canada through Global Affairs Canada.
Posted by: Veterinarians Without Borders on September 27, 2017.