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PWRDF donor enables food distribution in South Sudan

People line up to redeem their vouchers for the first phase of the food distribution program.

October 10, 2018

By Mike Ziemerink

An individual donation of $100,000 to The Primate’s World Relief and Development Fund’s equity in the Canadian Foodgrains Banks has enabled a large food distribution project to continue in the South Sudan, where it is estimated that 63% of the population is facing severe food insecurity.

Retired Enbridge executive Richard Bird made the offering to PWRDF’s equity with the Foodgrains Bank and requested the money go to fighting food insecurity in South Sudan. A member of St. Peter’s Anglican Church in Calgary, Bird has been donating to PWRDF and other causes around the globe for years through his organization, the Ptarmigan Foundation. The foundation focuses internationally on children’s hospitals, schools and orphanages, and in Canada on social services, support for women and children in need and First Nations sports and education.

Bird was motivated to make such a large donation because of information he was receiving about just how dire the situation in South Sudan has become.

“The information painted such a bleak picture, a quasi-genocidal situation. New leadership [in South Sudan] succeeded in wresting leadership from Sudan but then turned around and began oppressing their own people,” he said. “[The situation] really spoke to me, it is happening right beneath our noses and I felt like I needed to do something.”

In Kapoeta North County in the Eastern Equatoria State, for example, the economic crisis and conflict is leading to severe hunger and malnutrition. The people there depend on agriculture and livestock as their means of survival, but the area has faced two consecutive years of minimal rainfall. Crops are failing or non-existent, and livestock is deteriorating.

In October, November and December 2017, PWRDF oversaw three food distributions with funds from its equity with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank (CFGB) and partner ADRA (Adventist Development and Relief Agency) South Sudan. The agency is a member of the Food Security and Livelihood Cluster which meets regularly under the coordination of the World Food Program (WFP), both at national and state level. They also engage the community and encourage them to fully participate in the projects it implements. The project provided food assistance to people in 1,700 households in need in the region, with additional funding from the Church of Latter Day Saints.

Now, thanks to Bird’s donation, PWRDF has been able to revive the food assistance program in the same affected areas of rural South Sudan from September 2018 until April 2019.

Women line up to redeem their food vouchers at the September food distribution, then head for the long walk home.

With the Foodgrains Bank donation’s four to one match from the federal government, as well as contributions from Foodgrains Bank members the United Church of Canada, ADRA Canada, Mennonite Central Committee (Canada) and Presbyterian World Service and Development, PWRDF was able to purchase cereal, beans, lentils, vegetable oil and salt. These foods were deemed to be most helpful after consultation with the state as well as local community leaders who are familiar with the area.

One food distribution has already been completed, with seven more to go. The project targets the most vulnerable households whose needs are not currently being met by other interventions, with priority being given to households with children under five and pregnant women, as well as households headed by children, single mothers, elderly or those with a physical disability.

If weather conditions improve, ADRA South Sudan believes that the target households will be able to harvest vegetables in the coming March to May agricultural season.

None of this would have been possible without Richard Bird’s donation to PWRDF’s equity in CFGB. PWRDF is grateful to Richard for his support!

– With files from Naba Gurung