Groundnuts Save the Day in South Sudan Thanks to UK Support

South Sudan's Greater Bahr el Ghazal region is prone to shocks such as droughts and floods, which often affect food security. The World Food Programme (WFP) and partners have been working on projects to support communities strengthen their resilience to climate variability and shocks through a combination of food and cash for asset creation activities. 

For Aluel Lual, 40, the sorghum harvest this year has been dismal.  Her farm, in the village of Uyon in the Northern Bahr el Ghazal region of South Sudan, failed to produce enough food to feed her family. 

“Most of the sorghum failed due to the lack of rain and the amount of sorghum I harvested was less than half of what I got in the previous year,” explained Lual, a single mother of six children. 

It is a common story for most families in this region of the country where erratic rainfall and dry spells led to failed harvests which, in addition to high food prices and insecurity on most supply routes, left nearly a million people facing severe food shortages. 

Fortunately, Lual had an alternative. She had agreed to a suggestion from community members to participate in a conditional support programme where the World Food Programme (WFP) provides a cash incentive in exchange fo time spent to cultivate their land and obtain skills in improved agricultural techniques. 

She used her other plot to grow groundnuts as part of the WFP cash for assets (CFA) activity funded by UK aid and implemented in partnership with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

 As part of the CFA activities, WFP and its partners provide cash assistance to help communities create assets to restore livelihoods and to strengthen resilience against future shocks. The participants also receive skills development trainings, agricultural inputs and tools as well as continuous technical support by WFP, FAO and their partners.

Participants from Uyon received training on how to improve the cultivation of groundnuts with experts from WFP’s partners visiting regularly to give advice. This has yielded a big harvest for the families, giving them a means to survive in the hard times that have hit their region. 

“I will sell part of my ground nuts and buy sorghum and other food items. I will have enough food for my family and some money to send all of my children to school,” Lual said as she harvested her crop. 

“I made a good decision to enroll in the programme and use my other plot for ground nuts. At least I now have something after the loss of my sorghum plantation, but those who used all of their plots for sorghum production have suffered a lot,” she added. 

So far in 2016, more than 77,000 people have received cash in exchange for work or training as part of the UK aid funded Building Resilience through Asset Creation and Enhancement (BRACE II) project, which aims to build the resilience of households and communities to climate variability and shocks by improving food security, diversification of livelihoods and strengthening social lin the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region (including the states of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap).

 “At the beginning it was a challenge to change the mindset of the people and convince them to work together to build household and community assets,” said Garang Jiel, a WFP staff member coordinating the activities in Aweil West. “Now that they have seen the benefits they have become advocates of the programme,” he added.

BRACE II which runs until June 2018 is implemented by WFP, FAO and their partners. In 2017, the number of people benefiting from Food/Cash for Assets (FFA) activities is expected to rise to 109,000.

By Getahun Amogne