Construction of two new roads linking local farmers to markets has been inaugurated this week in Lakes State as part of a three-year partnership between the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and the South Sudan Ministry of Transport to build a total of 500 km of feeder roads to help boost agriculture development in the newly independent country.
JUBA-- The two roads, totalling 114 km, will connect the villages of Karich with Amok Piny and Aluakluak with Akuoc Cok, providing farmers with better access to markets in Rumbek East County in Lakes State. The project is being carried out in close cooperation with the Ministry for Roads and Bridges and local government authorities.
“We are proud to be starting the construction of this road, which will connect food producers to markets and will connect isolated communities,” said Chol Tong Mayay, Governor of Lakes State, speaking at an inauguration ceremony. “It is the beginning of development in our newly independent country; it is the beginning of service delivery. After having fought for so many years it is like a dream coming true.”
The road construction is part of WFP’s support to the Government of South Sudan to overcome some of the major obstacles to developing agriculture. Feeder roads which link areas with high agricultural potential to trunk roads will provide farmers with easier access to markets for their crops, thereby stimulating production and trade.
“We suffer from insecurity and a lack of services. If a woman is having trouble giving birth, we have to transport her to the clinic by bicycle. The road will change everything. It will give us access to trade and services”, explained Kuoi Maluach, the chief of Paloich, one of the remote villages which will be connected by the new road.
WFP plans to build 500 km of feeder roads throughout South Sudan, said the organization’s new Country Director, Chris Nikoi: “South Sudan has tremendous agricultural potential and yet only 4 percent of arable land is currently cultivated. The building of feeder roads throughout South Sudan is an absolute necessity if this country is to be able to rapidly produce enough food for its citizens and to eventually realize its great potential in agriculture.”
The two roads in Rumbek East are being built with funding from the South Sudan Recovery Fund. WFP has contracted the German organization GIZ to undertake the construction works which will be completed by July 2012. To ensure the long life of the feeder roads, local authorities and communities are being trained in road maintenance.
Since 2004, WFP has repaired 2,600 km of trunk road, linking eight out of the ten state capitals and connecting South Sudan to Uganda and Kenya via four corridors.
The two feeder roads are being constructed as part of the Lakes State Stabilisation Programme, a joint UN programme under the ownership of the Government of South Sudan. The programme aims to show the benefits of peace and encourage the participation and empowerment of communities affected by conflict and poverty.