Supporting the peace process in Sudan
Agricultural projects countrywide total $16 million - more funds urgently needed
25 May 2005, Rome - Agricultural relief and rehabilitation operations are crucial to support the smooth transition to a sustainable peace in southern Sudan, FAO said today. Countrywide, the agency is carrying out emergency relief and rehabilitation projects totalling $16 million.
FAO has appealed for nearly $62 million for emergency assistance to the country's agriculture sector for 2005. So far it has received about $10.5 million - just 17 percent of the funds requested.
Precarious food situation
Conflict, population displacements and inadequate rainfall have resulted in a precarious food situation in several parts of the country.
"In addition to Darfur and the south, many pockets of food insecurity exist elsewhere in Sudan, requiring significant assistance," said Fernanda Guerrieri, Chief of FAO's Emergency Operations Service.
FAO has mobilized around $5 million for emergency provision of seeds throughout the country for the main 2005 planting season, which ranges from May to October, depending on the region.
Over 6 000 tonnes of food crop seeds, as well as hand tools, are in the process of being distributed in a number of areas, along with veterinary medicines, supplies for livestock protection campaigns, and small-scale fishing inputs.
FAO expects to reach over 450 000 vulnerable farming families with its ongoing projects. Planned beneficiaries include internally displaced households and returnees, whom FAO is helping to resettle and restart farming activities.
As even more returns are expected with the commencement of the 2005 harvest period and dry season, more funds are needed to prepare the next planting season, according to Marc Bellemans, FAO's Senior Emergency Coordinator for northern Sudan.
"We will do more seed multiplication of local adapted and preferred varieties during the rainy season," he said. "Local production is not only cheaper, but it helps support local capacities, local markets and traditional farmers' seed systems, which is much better than flooding communities with seeds from outside the region."
FAO's activities in crop and livestock production, fisheries, water harvesting and support to agro-processing initiatives as well as rural artisans cover the entire country, including the north, south and transitional areas.
The distribution of seeds and tools is being complemented by rehabilitation activities, such as training, restoring much-needed agricultural services and supporting community livestock initiatives.
Planning for peace
Since 1983, the conflict in southern Sudan is estimated to have killed at least 2 million people, uprooted 4 million more and forced around 600 000 to flee to neighbouring countries.
The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Accord between the Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People's Liberation Movement in January has raised hopes for a peace dividend, but complex challenges remain.
"An estimated 580 000 returnees are expected after the rainy season," said Erminio Sacco, FAO's Emergency Coordinator for southern Sudan. "Most will be returning with nothing to communities that are already extremely poor. If we overburden these communities, we risk creating further conflict. So we are very carefully targeting the most vulnerable people, whether residents or returnees. Increasing the capacity of communities to absorb new returnees will also be a key activity of the FAO interventions."
One of the issues being tackled in connection with the potential flow of returnees is land tenure.
"Most areas don't have formal mechanisms for allocating land," said Sacco. "There's no legislation or land titling. So FAO is working with local authorities to explore how customary rights and community land allocation mechanisms can be formalized to strengthen the capacity of local authorities to handle the influx of returnees and their needs for access to different types of land."
FAO is implementing land tenure projects totalling $1.7 million, funded by the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden and the United States, to help secure land rights, address land and property dispute resolution and negotiate consensual land management.
Fight for development
In anticipation of the peace accord, FAO began formulating two major long-term recovery programmes in 2004, which are being considered for funding by the European Commission.
The programmes include rehabilitation of productive capacity and infrastructure, the development of agricultural and livestock services, rural finance, and information systems to support policy work. Pilot projects have been designed for possible implementation in the second half of 2005.
Sudanese task forces in the north and south were key participants in the formulation process.
"It's a slower process, but when you get to the end you don't have to convince anyone because they've all been involved in the decision-making," said Sacco.
"Government-building takes time," added Bellemans. "After 20 years of conflict, there's a huge lack of human resources. One can fight a war, but now one has to fight a war for reconstruction, reconciliation, peace-building and development, which is an entirely different issue."
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