“I hope that violence will be a thing of the past. So, does flooding”
Devastating floods in South Sudan have had a direct impact on over 900,000 individuals, causing the destruction of homes, livestock, and agricultural lands. This has further worsened an already desperate humanitarian crisis. Bentiu, located in Unity State, is completely surrounded by floodwaters, rendering most roads inaccessible. The only defense against the rising waters are the dikes, massive mounds of compacted earth constructed by the government, the United Nations, and the local community to safeguard internally displaced persons from the flood's wrath.
Posted on 17 Oct 2023
Nyatuak Ker Gai, a mother of five children, became a widow when her husband lost his life during a communal conflict in 2021.
Two years ago, she was compelled to leave her village, Torkel, and relocate to Mankuei due to a devastating flood that resulted in widespread displacement from her ancestral home.
As the rainy season approaches, there is a looming possibility of water levels rising once again, potentially impacting the constructed dikes.
This recurring disaster, experienced by individuals like Nyatuak, significantly erodes the resilience of those already displaced and affected by multiple calamities.
For individuals like Nyatuak, who once led a regular life in their villages before being displaced, their current circumstances are vastly different.
They must now adapt to a new way of life and rely on the availability of humanitarian aid as their only means of survival in their resettlement areas.
However, this situation can be changed by providing individuals in need with skills through training and support systems, enabling them to acquire sustainable abilities that reduce their future dependency on humanitarian aid in times of crisis.
DRC’s project, Food for Assistance for Assets, funded by WFP, identifies individuals like Nyatuak and encourages them to participate in Farmers Field Schools, where their agricultural production capacities are enhanced.
This will ultimately empower them to become more resilient and break free from their reliance on humanitarian aid in the future.
Before we were displaced from Torkel for Mankuei, we were relatively doing okay. But when flood waters submerged our village, we had to leave. I used to practice agriculture on a small scale to support my children. I mainly planted vegetables like okra, onions, eggplants, maize, and other vegetables, all of which were choked by the floods. we came here empty-handed: No food. No non-food items. No nothing.
/ Nyatuak Ker Gai, displaced by flood in Bentiu
DRC’s Farmer Field Schools play a crucial role in displacement situations by providing vital support and empowering displaced farmers to rebuild their lives and livelihoods.
These schools offer training and guidance in various aspects of agricultural enterprise development, including business planning, financial management, market analysis, and entrepreneurship skills.
By equipping displaced farmers with these knowledge and tools, farmers business schools help create opportunities for self-reliance and improved income generation.
In displacement situations, farmers often face numerous challenges, including limited access to land, resources, and markets. Farmers business schools address these challenges by teaching farmers how to adapt and optimize their farming practices in new and unfamiliar environments.
This ensures that they can make the most of the available resources, optimize their productivity, and meet the demands of local markets.
Nyatuak is now able to replicate the skills she has acquired from the trainings by DRC in her own garden at her home and share her knowledge and skills with other fellow community members. “With my garden at home, I am able to feed my family and sell surplus and use the money to buy other needs such as clothes, shoes, and school requirements for my children” Nyatuak
When asked about her aspirations for the next two years, Nyatuak expresses her desire to acquire a substantial plot of land for agricultural purposes.
This would enable her to generate sufficient income to cover her children's school fees. As an independent widow, she envisions a future where her children will no longer endure financial hardships, as her bountiful harvest will provide an abundance of food and financial resources.
Nyatuak's transformation from relying on friends and relatives for financial assistance to becoming self-sufficient is attributed to the success of her flourishing garden.
Although she acknowledges the challenges, she may face in obtaining a large piece of land, she remains hopeful for a brighter tomorrow.
Prior to our departure, the village was already being engulfed by the floodwaters. Numerous homes, including my own, had succumbed to the water's intrusion. Helplessly, I witnessed the destruction of my possessions, realizing that it was imperative for us to evacuate for our own safety. Gathering my children, we sought higher ground. As the water levels continued to rise, we made the decision to leave Torkel behind. It required several arduous hours of walking to reach Mankuei, where the authorities graciously provided us with temporary settlement. This arduous expedition was marked by distress, hunger, and thirst.
/ Nyatuak Ker Gai, in Bentu
Nyatuak hopes that violence will be a thing of the past. and flooding too. This will allow her to continue to farm and change her life in her community when she returns back home.
Farmer Field Schools also facilitate networking and knowledge-sharing amongst displaced farmers, fostering a sense of community and cooperation.
By creating a space for farmers to come together, exchange experiences, and learn from each other, these schools encourage collaboration, innovation, and the development of sustainable farming practices that benefit the entire community.
In this way, Farmer Field Schools not only enhance the economic resilience and self-sufficiency of displaced farmers but also contribute to overall food security and stability in displacement settings.
By equipping farmers with the necessary skills and knowledge to sustain their livelihoods, these schools help transform displacement situations into opportunities for growth, empowerment, and the long-term well-being of the affected communities.
Food Assistance for Asset (FFA) Project
Food Assistance for Assets is a project funded by the World Food Program and fully implemented by Danish Refugee Council, specifically in Bentui.
The main goal of this endeavor is to reduce individuals' reliance on general humanitarian food distributions.
Instead of simply giving out food aid, DRC is taking a more sustainable approach by assisting vulnerable and food insecure communities with either cash or in-kind support, which helps bridge short-term hunger gaps. However, the project's aim extends beyond immediate relief.
By the end of the project, DRC plans to assist 2,000 households, comprising roughly 12,000 individuals facing vulnerability and inadequate access to food.
The initiative strives to provide these households with necessary sustenance for a duration of six months, ensuring their basic nutritional needs are met during these challenging times.
Through this support, DRC aims to ease the difficulties experienced by displaced, vulnerable and food insecure households during this demanding period.