Rebuilding South Sudan’s cold chain system

Rebuilding South Sudan’s cold chain system

28/11/2014

There are over 35 million livestock in South Sudan, including 11 million cows and 25 million goats and sheep combined. Livestock is the largest form of social capital for most of the population and the importance of animal health links directly to food production and food security.

Since the onset of crisis in December 2013, FAO has prioritized re-establishing the country’s cold chain system. The cold chain system is crucial for the transportation, storage and performance of temperature-sensitive livestock vaccines. In addition to effective pre-positioning of vaccines for 2015, rebuilding the cold chain system ensures that Community-Based Animal Health Workers (CBAHWs) and partners have rapid access to vaccines so they can prevent and respond to disease outbreaks. Prior to the crisis, South Sudan had limited cold chain capacity, and the few existing cold chain facilities in Malakal, Bor and Bentiu as well as other locations in the three worst-affected states were completely destroyed during the crisis. 

In addition to the destruction of cold chain systems due to the armed conflict, many cold chain systems were unable to operate owing to the challenges of supplying kerosene refrigerators with fuel during times of crisis. FAO therefore focused on providing solar-powered refrigerators. Twenty solar-powered refrigerators were procured and more than half have been delivered and installed in field locations including Leer, Koch, and Mayendit in Unity State, Melut in Upper Nile, Bor and Yuai in Jonglei State, Lainya, Kajo and Lui in Greater Equatoria and Malal Kon in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State.

Training for cold chain system operators is ongoing. In September 2014, 20 participants completed hands-on training for solar-powered refrigerator installation and management in Juba. This followed a week-long training that took place in July in Wau, where another 20 participants took part in a “Cold Chain and Vaccine Management Workshop.” FAO Cold Chain Technician, Obulejo Titus, who trained participants noted the importance of cold chain facilities in South Sudan, “We have vast temperatures here in South Sudan, we need cold chains to manage vaccine potency.”

At the same time, FAO cold chain officers are hard at work repairing and improving the existing cold chain facilities in the country. Repairs and stocking supplies are underway in Juba, Torit, Wau and Rumbek. FAO continues to regularly enhance the capacity of the central cold chain system located in Juba at the Ministry of Livestock and Fisheries Industry. The central cold chain in Juba has been significantly improved and, with funds provided by the African Solidarity Trust Fund, a new refrigerated container (or reefer) has been installed to increase vaccine storage capacity. FAO will hand over the central cold chain to the Government in the near future.

FAO is further boosting its efforts in 2015, aiming to train over 100 cold chain operators around the country, as well as deliver and install 75 solar-powered refrigerators and 50 portable solar-powered refrigerators. This is just one way in which FAO is providing rapid emergency livelihood support to the most affected areas and enhancing effective emergency livestock response mechanisms.