about the author
Spokesperson for South and East Asia
Marcus Prior, a former journalist, was WFP's East Africa spokesperson before coming to Bangkok in 2010 to head up public relations in South and East Asia.
A novel food assistance program in southern Somalia has succeeded in helping a poor community on the Juba river to protect itself and its cattle from voracious crocodiles. It's also creating more land for farming.
NAIROBI -- It was just last year, at a busy crossing-point on Somalia’s largest river, the Juba. A man from Jamame district was helping his wife fetch water for their family, when as if from nowhere, a massive crocodile surged from the river and clamped its jaws on his right arm.
As the crowd on the river bank threw whatever stones they could find, the man fought for his life. Then his wife was in the water with him, in a desperate bid to free him from the crocodile’s clutches.
Together they struggled frantically for several minutes and finally the man managed to pull his bloody arm from the attacker’s jaws. He and his wife scrambled to safety.
Others not so lucky
The couple and their six children now continue their lives, although the husband has no use of his arm. He is lucky – there have been many other attacks over the years in this area, where the victims have lost more than the use of an arm. Several have been killed. Attacks have been on the increase and situation is so bad in some areas that water collection points on the river have been fenced off to keep away the crocodiles.
And it is as a result of these attacks that the local community asked WFP to help them out. Could WFP provide food as an incentive for people to work on a project that would protect them and their livestock from the predatory crocodiles? WFP calls this sort of project a 'Food For Assets' project. Learn more
Food and protection
> Prolonged civil unrest
> Frequent droughts
> Fragile environment
> Floods in the south
The project designed by WFP’s sub-office in Bu’ale, together with some local community organizations, worked to dam up several of the river’s creeks, forcing out the crocodiles while at the same time revealing additional fertile land for agriculture. Water discharge into this area can now be controlled, and the farmers – most of them from minority clans – can move about safely.
The gravestones along the river bank remain a grisly reminder of the mayhem the crocodiles have visited on the community. Their numbers appear to be increasing, and many blame the decline in the Juba river’s fish population on their voracious appetites.