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How FAO is helping communities build resilience and fight malnutrition in South Sudan

Women’s skills in farming as a business have improved, and so has their income, filling the current local production gap and demand for vegetables, which were mainly imported from neighbouring countries before.

©FAO/Mattia Romano
03/06/2019

Adut Akuei used to go every evening to the hospital to visit little Akol Akot, her three-year old granddaughter, who was seriously malnourished. Adut and her daughter Angong could often only feed her with asida, a dish made out of ground sorghum. She wasn’t getting all the nutrients she needed from her food, and the way the food was washed also left her susceptible to food-borne illnesses that stopped absorption of nutrients and further weakened her body. “When I held her in my arms, she was so thin that I thought she could not make it. I always prayed for her to survive,” Adut recalls with tears in her eyes.

Adut lives in Marial Ajith community in northwestern South Sudan. This area is very fertile and has plenty of rivers and basins. Agricultural production used to be high and vegetables were exported from the region to the rest of South Sudan. Years of conflict, however, made this area a dangerous place to harvest the land; many people left their homes and lost their livelihoods. Insecurity and violence had turned this place into a deeply food insecure area, reliant on humanitarian aid. Like many other women in South Sudan, Adut and Angong lost their husbands and brothers to the conflict. They never returned to Marial Ajith.

But with FAO’s help, Adut and the other women are doing their part to realize the community’s potential. In late 2018, FAO, with funding of the Governments of the Netherlands and Norway, started helping mothers enhance and diversify the diets of their children to fight malnutrition.

As part of the project, the women first received vouchers to procure nutritious food items, such as milk, meat, fish and assorted vegetables that they and their children were missing in their diets. They also received trainings on how to properly wash, cook and preserve various types of food. In addition, FAO provided vegetable seeds, agricultural tools (like treadle pumps for irrigation), information and training to grow different types of vegetables and crops for their consumption.

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