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PWRDF leading $375,000 food assistance project in South Sudan

South Sudanese walk sometimes for more than a day to get to the food distribution site.

December 13, 2017

By Janice Biehn

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As winter begins to settle across Canada, hunger persists in South Sudan. PWRDF is leading a food distribution project that aims to feed thousands in a rural county in Eastern Equatoria State, through our equity in Canadian Foodgrains Bank and a 4:1 match from Global Affairs Canada. We are grateful for a contribution of $100,000 from the United Church of Canada towards this project.

“We are now responsible for making sure everything goes as planned, dealing with the suppliers, monitoring and evaluating,” says Naba Gurung, PWRDF’s Humanitarian Response Coordinator, who is in touch with ADRA South Sudan on a daily basis.

south sudan mapThe budget of $375,024 allowed the purchase of 201.6 tonnes of sorghum (a staple grain similar to oats), 26.88 tonnes of beans, 16.13 tonnes of cooking oil and 4.03 tonnes of salt, including transportation and staff support. Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) South Sudan is distributing the food.

The project is benefiting 1,799 households (8,960 individuals) in the seven payams or districts of Kapoeta North County: Chumakori, Najie, Nakwa, Paringa, Wokobu, Lomeyen and Lokwamor. ADRA South Sudan staff and the local communities are now planning the third and final monthly distribution for the end of December, just before Christmas.

Saving life from severe hunger

“The happiest day of my life has finally come, a day when my household will now have an opportunity to have a decent meal,” Lotum Longolio told an ADRA South Sudan aid worker. Lotum, 25, lives with her husband in Najie Payam. Lotum is a jovial young woman and a mother of three children.

“Today, I am overwhelmed with joy at the distribution site because it is the first time my household has received food assistance since I got married,” she said. “My household will at least have an increased meal portion today and we shall eat twice a day, compared to the past where my household barely survived on very little millet, through which we ate once a day.” Lotum is thankful that ADRA organizes a house-to-house registration that makes sure people with disabilities (she is deaf and mute) are reached and included.

Food is life

I am very grateful for this wonderful gift that I have received today for my household, says Nateba Lokorio, 30. Nateba’s husband died in 2014 from an unknown illness. She takes care of her two daughters, her mother and her two elderly aunts in Chumakori Payam.

“I am privileged to have been one of those lucky few beneficiaries to be registered by ADRA for food assistance. There are still more people in our boma who need food and have not been registered because the list was full. I will always be thankful to ADRA and most especially to the donor for the good food that I have received today at the distribution site. My household is now guaranteed a meal each day of the week.”

16 Portraits of Hunger

PWRDF, along with ADRA Canada, contributed funds to a similar project that was carried out in the same region by ADRA South Sudan from June to September. Sharmilla Reid from ADRA Canada visited the food distribution in June and spoke to many of the people receiving food.

“I was struck by the enormity of the situation,” says Sharmilla. “While we were providing food for thousands of people, thousands more were still in need. Every one of the people we spoke to said they were sharing what they had received with many other family and community members, many of whom are subsisting on whatever scarce wild fruits they can find. If the situation does not improve many will die and others will be forced to become refugees.”

Sharmilla’s interviews, paired with portraits from photographer Matthew Sawatzky, reveal a common theme of resilience and desperation.