WFP said today that due to a reduced demand for food aid it will gradually shift its operations in southern Sudan from emergency war relief to longer term recovery after more than 20 years of delivering food aid to the region.
With greater peace comes greater food security
WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran
The end of the civil war in south Sudan combined with better harvests enabled WFP to launch the new strategy, which will see emergency food aid for southern Sudan cut by 19 percent this year while school feeding programmes triple in size and food-for-work projects jump from 121,000 participants last year to more than 160,000 in 2007.
WFP will, in addition, continue to assist the development of local infrastructure, such as the 2,000 kilometers of roads the agency has repaired and upgraded since 2004 in order to ensure and facilitate the delivery of food aid.
“With greater peace comes greater food security,” said WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran.
“As the war in the south fades into history, we want people to return to their farms and restart their normal lives. We recognize we cannot abruptly stop the flow of aid but we can gradually shift people back to greater food independence.”
At the height of Sudan's civil war, WFP was flying up to three airdrops a day.
Since the civil war between north and south Sudan erupted in the 1980s, WFP continuously air-dropped food to millions of people in desperate need across southern Sudan, a huge region without a reliable road network.
At the height of the southern Sudan operation in the late 1990s, WFP was using 10 cargo planes, each flying up to three food delivery runs a day.
If the current peace continues to hold, WFP expects to gradually phase in over the next several years further cuts in emergency relief to augment this year’s 19 percent reduction, which will reduce the number of people receiving free food from 1.6 million in 2006 to 1.3 million in 2007.
Transition to recovery
At the same time, the transition to recovery programmes such as school feeding, aimed at keeping children in the classroom, will rise dramatically.
In 2007, WFP plans to provide 450,000 children a hot meal at school, up from 152,000 in 2006. Southern Sudan has the lowest school attendance rates in the world, with only 35% of primary-age children attending school. Only one-fifth of those in school are girls.
WFP will also significantly expand its food-for-work programme, under which communities identify and participate in projects such as the construction and rehabilitation of school infrastructure, health care centres, feeder/village roads, dams and dykes as well as construction and protection of water points and wells.
Since the civil war ended in 2005 with the signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement, more than one million people displaced by the conflict have returned to their homes in southern Sudan. A further 430,000 are expected this year, all of whom will receive WFP food aid.
To encourage southerners to return, and to assist them in settling on arrival, WFP provides returnees with a transit ration for their journey as well as a three-month resettlement ration.
Additional monthly rations are also available, depending on the vulnerability of individual recipients.
As part of the recovery effort, WFP’s road-building endeavourshave repaired and maintained the worst sections of a 2,950-kilometre transportation network, particularly along the main access routes from Kenya to Juba and from Uganda to Rumbek.
Some 200,000 unexploded mines and other ordnance have been removed in areas particularly hard hit by the war. Upgrading the road infrastructure in the south has helped the return of displaced people and lowered the cost of road transport for WFP food and other essential supplies by up to 40 percent.
WFP will continue to monitor food security across southern Sudan and distribute free food to people hit by insecurity or natural disasters.
Life-saving programmes for malnourished children, pregnant women, nursing mothers and victims of HIV/AIDS, kala-zar, leprosy and tuberculosis will not be affected by the reductions.