September 17, 2022
By Janice Biehn
In Yei County, South Sudan, PWRDF and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank have been supporting refugees returning home and their host communities through implementing partner Finn Church Aid (FCA). The project is part of the Foodgrains Bank’s Humanitarian, Early Recovery, and Development (HERD) program. It includes nine Foodgrains Bank members and 10 international partners in eight countries, with funds from the government of Canada.
Besides providing cash transfers to 1,000 returnee households, HERD has also supplied seeds, tools and agricultural training to 2,600 returnee and host community households, many of whom are dependent on farming as their source of income. Rose Awate, 31, is a mother of six living in the host community.
“When the conflict erupted in 2016, my family and I did not flee to the refugee camps across the border in Uganda and Congo,” she tells an FCA staffer. “We remained in Yei town even when the crisis became intense. …We were afraid of soldiers and groups of armed people, they were everywhere. I relied on a very small piece of land behind my home to cultivate vegetables to feed my family. This was not sustainable.”
In June 2021, FCA selected Awate to participate in the farming program and in November she received cereal seeds, farming tools and training. “The lead farmer and other people from the department of agriculture have been visiting my farm to see how I am progressing. I feel I have now gained knowledge and skills in controlling pests and understanding the right time to do weeding. … With the additional knowledge, our harvests have improved.”
By December, Awate started cultivating maize. The dry season did not affect her garden because her land is located along the Yei River. In March, she started harvesting maize to feed her family.
“Not many farmers had harvested maize yet because their maize farms are far from the water source. Even in the local market, maize was scarce.” Awate sold her excess maize at 500 South Sudanese Pounds per cluster (each cluster has five pieces of maize). From her profits,she was able to pay school fees for her children and start a turkey farming enterprise. “I thank FCA for giving me this support because it would have been difficult for me to reach this level.”