Our feature series this week on Africa News Tonight is on the state of southern Sudan following the signing of the peace accord last year. Last night we had an overview of the humanitarian situation. We looked at donor pledges and how those funds have been used so far. Tonight, we learn how people are being helped to make a living through agriculture, fishing and shepherding.
George Okech is the officer in charge of south Sudan for the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. Voice of America English to Africa reporter Cole Mallard reached him in the southern regional capital, Juba, to find out if food aid will continue indefinitely since the country is no longer at war. Okech said he doesn’t believe so because the UN is fostering food security and livelihood recovery by encouraging the Sudanese to get into farming and agriculture.
“What we need to do is supply them with seeds and appropriate tools and [fertilizer] and then provide basic training so they can get some skills...and till their land.”
The UN official says insecurity was a big challenge facing the UN effort at food aid during the war. He says the south Sudanese would cultivate their land and then, just as they were to harvest, they’d be ambushed. Okech says the south Sudanese depend largely on livestock (sheep, goats and cattle) and that during the war [the agricultural infrastructure] collapsed.
He says since then the international community has been training local people in animal husbandry and health in areas like vaccination. Okech says this program was ongoing during the war and continued afterward, when the new government was formed, and the program continues to be very beneficial. He says similar efforts have been made in the fishing industry with training in fish preparation and greater access to supplies.
Let us know what you think of this report and other stories on our website. Send your views to AFRICA@VOANEWS.COM, and include your phone number. Or, call us here in Washington, DC at (202) 205-9942. After you hear the VOA identification, press 30 to leave a message. We want to hear what you have to say!