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NGO Puts South Sudanese to Work for Food

A South Sudanese woman walks away with a large bag of maize that she received in exchange for working in a drought-hit area of Northern Bahr el Ghazal. The project, called "Food for Assets", is run by international NGO, Mercy Corps.
An international NGO has been putting people in a drought-stricken area of South Sudan to work, in exchange for food.

The new program, called "Food for Assets", is run by Mercy Corps and allows people in an area in Aweil East, in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, to work on projects that benefit their community, in exchange for food.

The food is supplied by the United Nations' World Food Program, and the projects locals work on include everything from clearing roads that link local villages to improving irrigation systems on small farms.

Alakiir Deng was one of 400 people who lined up to receive two bags of sorghum and maize this week in exchange for her work.

“We dug the pond known as ‘Afiir’ to water our vegetables. And this we hope will help us make more vegetables and sell it for money to access food in the market. We hope this one month-food ration will reduce our hunger, unlike the previous years when we didn't have this project,” she said.

Residents choose which improvement projects to undertake in exchange for food.

“We have farm ponds, we have vegetable gardens and those who are working on community roads. We have different types of projects we are implementing,” said Mercy Corps program officer Bona Agok Akot.

The deputy administrator of the area, Garang Kuc Machuar, said last year’s lack of rainfall has forced many people to turn to the program to get enough to eat.

“Hundreds in this village are without food this year. And Mercy Corps has launched this program in our community and we are so pleased with their efforts in reducing hunger among us," he said.