Sudan: cross-line operations reach 150 000 people in Nuba Mountains
Seeds, tools and construction materials distributed by FAO
7 June 2004, Rome -- Farmers in Sudan's contested Nuba Mountains have received seeds, tools and construction materials from FAO to rehabilitate agriculture and build dams, seedbanks and community nurseries.
Around 150 000 people on both sides of the conflict between the Government of Sudan and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement (SPLM) will benefit from FAO's agricultural rehabilitation projects in the region.
FAO supplied timber, cement, metal, wheelbarrows and watering cans by road from the government-held town of Kadugli, through Joint Military Commission checkpoints in the border town of Kauda, to farmers living in areas held by the SPLM.
"Helping farmers in this contested area is an important contribution to the process of political and social reconciliation," said Anne Bauer, Director of FAO's Emergency Operations and Rehabilitation Division.
"Through its emergency projects, FAO is equally targeting government- and SPLM-held areas on the basis of need. The distribution of basic agricultural equipment and training in new skills offer farmers and their families, who have suffered years of conflict, an opportunity to build their future," Anne Bauer said.
Farmers in SPLM and government areas have also received farming tools produced by local blacksmiths and groundnut, sesame, cowpea, maize and sorghum seeds, including early-maturing, drought-resistant varieties introduced by FAO to reduce the risk of crop failure.
Approximately 85 percent of the population of the Nuba Mountains, which has been a zone of conflict and civil unrest since 1985, is dependent on agriculture and livestock.
Lower transport costs, more beneficiaries
Almost 20 years of conflict, massive internal displacement of farmers and their families and the extensive laying of landmines have resulted in the widespread destruction of traditional farming. Levels of food insecurity are high among the more than 50 tribal groups that live in the region.
Costly airlifts were once the only means of distribution for emergency relief supplies, due to the lack of security and poor infrastructure throughout the SPLM-held areas.
The cease-fire agreement reached in 2002 between the government and the SPLM ensured the safety of passage of emergency relief supplies by land throughout the Nuba Mountains.
This cost-effective land transport by local trucks enabled FAO to almost double the number of beneficiaries.
Peace and agriculture
FAO is currently operating more than 20 emergency relief and rehabilitation projects throughout Sudan.
In Kassala, 18 km west of the Eritrean border, FAO is working with the local non-governmental organization Intermediate Technology Development Group (ITDG) to clear and repair around 600 wells, which were seriously damaged when the Elgash River swept through the town in July 2003.
In Upper Nile State, FAO training courses teach internally displaced people and returnees in the town of Malakal how to preserve and process fish. This will help the local community to increase the supply and availability of cheap fish as a source of protein, particularly during the period between the first rains and the first harvests, when food is scarce.
In Bahr El Jabel State, FAO funds training courses and provides metal sheets for the blacksmiths of Juba to make traditional farming tools. These tools are distributed together with local seed varieties to internally displaced people and women's self-help groups through local NGOs.
FAO operations in Sudan are financed by Belgium, Canada, the European Commission and the United Nations Development Programme, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden and the United States of America.
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