Struggling to grow food in South Sudan

For Mary Nyadeng, every day is a struggle to put food on the table for her six children. Support from NRC has made life a little easier.

“The needs in the community are great,” says Mary Nyadeng, a farmer in South Sudan. The 47-year-old lives in a small village in Koch county, in the northern region of the country. Sadly, her assessment of her community’s needs is all too true.

Nyadeng’s home country is engulfed in a civil war and a major food crisis. Six years after the country’s independence, South Sudan is one the world´s largest humanitarian crises. Nearly four million people have been forced to flee their homes. The conflict has caused many farmers to flee, leaving fields empty of crops and families hungry. As a result, six million South Sudanese are in need of food aid to survive.

Farming her aid

As the large family’s only breadwinner, Nyadeng’s situation worsened when her cattle were stolen in the conflict.

But since 2014 Nyadeng has been receiving seeds from the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) to cultivate her two acres of land, where she grows corn and several other vegetables. Following each harvest, she’s able to feed her children and sell a portion of the produce. Her profits go back to the household.

“With the money, I’m able to buy oil and salt from the local market,” Nyadeng says.

Mary Nyadeng waters her vegetables, grown from seeds distributed by the Norwegian Refugee Council. Photo: NRC

Seed distributions

Besides seed distributions in Koch, NRC also distributes food in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). This agricultural support from NRC has improved life for many displaced people in the area.

“I hope that the support continues,” Nyadeng says.

NRC in South Sudan

NRC has supported programmes in southern Sudan since 2004 and in South Sudan since the country’s independence in 2011. During this current crisis, NRC deploys mobile rapid response teams who travel to provide emergency assistance in areas difficult to reach by road. These teams sometimes travel to communities in need by air transport.

Although emergency food distributions for the food crisis are continuing, more donor funding is needed to continue emergency programmes – the UN appeal for humanitarian funding for South Sudan is just 69 per cent funded for this year.