Empowering South Sudanese refugees and host communities

Empowering South Sudanese refugees and host communities

25/05/2017

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, nearly 8 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance and protection (Humanitarian Response Plan, OCHA, January 2017) and 6 million are food insecure. Population movements account for more than half of humanitarian needs. By the end of 2016, the country had more than 2.1 million IDPs and nearly 1.5 million refugees.

According to UNHCR, there are nearly 75 000 South Sudanese refugees registered in the provinces of Ituri and Haut-Uélé. Since October 2016, FAO has been providing humanitarian assistance to South Sudanese refugees in Doruma, Dungu territory in Haut-Uélé province. Host communities are also supported to reduce the risk of tensions and build resilience. This is part of the Humanitarian Response Plan of the Democratic Republic of the Congo to immediately improve the living conditions of people affected by the crisis. The overall response strategy is based on integrating refugees into host communities, focusing on an integrated protection strategy combining emergency assistance and empowerment.

Promoting harmony in host communities

In the area of Doruma, FAO is strengthening the livelihoods of 3 000 households (15 000 people), including 2 000 South Sudanese refugee households and 1 000 host families.

Ms Kaime Djeti, a 38-year-old head of household living with her eight children in Doruma, told us about her situation prior to the project: “I arrived about two years ago in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and I only relied on the local community who often gave me rice, beans, cassava and cassava leaves. The project helped me a lot as I learned how to grow vegetables. I even started eating amaranth from my field”.

To support the empowerment of South Sudanese refugees, FAO has focused on supporting income-generating and agricultural activities; 7 000 farming tools (hoes, rakes, sprayers, watering cans and wheelbarrows) and 80 kg of vegetable seeds (amaranth, cabbage, eggplant, okra and tomato) were distributed. In addition, 545 refugee households received goats to promote access to animal protein. “I received a goat that I look after in our group; this will allow me to resume goat breeding”, explained Kaime Djeti, beneficiary of FAO’s support in the provision of goats.

In addition, in order to promote harmony in host communities and facilitate access to land, 1 000 host families received 1 000 hoes and 15 tonnes of quality bean, groundnut and maize seeds. All these activities are accompanied by technical support through the development of plant beds, and learning good agricultural practices. Training sessions on nutrition and peaceful cohabitation are also organized for beneficiaries and other members of the community.

Providing cash

The project used cash transfers to facilitate access to goods and livelihoods. Through the direct distribution of cash and vouchers (in exchange for goods or services), beneficiaries were able to invest in children's education, healthcare and even financing small business.

“The money I received allowed me to buy shoes and food for my children. I was also able to start a small business selling soap and sugar. Since I’ve started my activity two weeks ago, I was able to generate 6 USD”, says Kaime (77 percent of the population lives on less than USD 1.90 a day).

On the road to empowerment

The aim is to allow South Sudanese refugees to become self-sufficient during the next cropping season, in mid-July 2017. Kaime is gradually moving towards a better future. “If all goes well, I plan on becoming a producer of amaranth, tomato and eggplant. I would also like to start the rice and manioc flour business with the money I’ll receive from the project for my field work”.

The additional strategies adopted within the framework of the project, such as the provision of money (cash for work and conditional cash transfers), are crucial to allow for farming communities to meet immediate food and water needs while waiting for harvests, and to strengthen and diversify their livelihoods by developing alternative income-generating activities.
This initiative was possible thanks to the financial of USD 800 000 from the Central Emergency Response Fund.