Women take lead to guarantee food security

By John Alier 

March, 2017 (RFSP)-Dry season vegetable production proves to be a better source of cash and healthy food, alleviating livelihoods of vulnerable households who lost livestock in Jonglei state of South Sudan, thanks to women leadership and their active involvement.  

Catholic Relief Service (CRS) in consortium with Save the Children run a special project, Resilience and Food Security program (RFSP) under USAID funding in seven counties of Pibor, Akobo, Nyirol, Uror, Duk, Twic East and Bor targeting nearly one million individuals to improve people’s livelihoods.  

Total of 3,579 individuals–including 2,396 women–have been participating in vegetable production. The participants organized into 105 groups and others operating individually across the seven counties were supported with 6,420 assorted inputs, including seeds and tools.

Vegetable producer groups in RFSP seven counties are now able to save cash they obtain on weekly bases from their sale:  Photo taken from Poktap  by John Alier, RFSP reporting and communication officer 

Adau Chuol Bul, a 43-year-old farmer who inspired the rest of her group members to start vegetable production, has now excel in the Duk, which was highly devastated by 2013 crisis. Under her leadership, each of the 20 female members gets cash and fresh green vegetables to nourish their meals which improve nutritional status of their children. 

“Idealness is a sickness; God makes you healthy for you to work. As people without cows, vegetables are source of healthy food for children and elderly,” Adau says. 

The accumulated cash on vegetable sales from February to March by vegetable producers in the operational areas touched SSP 829,360 $6,883 as per the current rate of SSP120.5 per $1) 

Tackling the earth with hoes in dry months of the year with patience persistently, contributed to the success of the groups which had just been converted to community based Saving and lending microfinance, in which the members invested part of their cash obtained from crops sales. 

“We are loaning this money to the people within our groups who are using it for the other businesses with the return of 10 per cent profit after a month,” she says. “When things go well, we will explain this and keep money for us to afford modern houses which we don’t have now,” she explains. 

The next plan for some of the groups is how they can expand their productivity to increase food security. Some vegetable farmer producer groups have now cleared their fields which they use to produce cereal crops this year.