According to the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), Sudan is home to more internally displaced persons than any other country in the world, with nearly 4.3 million people displaced after many years of conflict. The Darfur region in Sudan’s western area presents an ongoing humanitarian crisis, with more than 260 000 people displaced in 2012 and approximately 1.6 million people living in Internally Displaced People’s (IDP) camps. Agriculture, including livestock and fisheries, is the most important economic sector in Sudan, contributing to about a third of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) and providing a livelihood to about two-thirds of the active population. Funded by the United Nation’s Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), FAO worked with Kebkabiya Smallholder Charitable Society (KSCS) and the local non-governmental organization (NGO) SAEKER to provide vaccines, as well as a total of 140 MT of animal feed for the protection of livestock assets of newly displaced people living in camps in Sortony and Tawilla in Northern Darfur.
According to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) nearly 76 000 people were newly displaced across Darfur during the first six months of 2016. The vast majority of this displacement was triggered by the conflict in the Jebel Marra area in the Darfur region, which started in January 2016. Over 52 000 Internally Displaced People (IDPs) from Jebel Marra have arrived at IDP camps in Sortony and Tawila in North Darfur since the start of the conflict.
Distributing animal feed and vaccines
In July 2016, FAO and Kebkabiya Smallholder Charitable Society (KSCS) started the distribution of 75 MT of fodder and supplementary animal feed in Sortony. In addition, FAO and the local NGO SAEKER distributed 65 MT of fodder and feed at the Tawilla-Burgo IDP camp. The distributed feed is sufficient to feed 9 500 goats and donkeys.
Adam Ali, 55, emphasized the need for livestock interventions, at what has proven to be a difficult time for him and his family. “The feed just came at the right time. Our animals, especially our donkeys, have become very thin and sick due to the poor feed quality and quantity. Because there is no pasture and very limited crop residues, I have already lost one donkey and two goats. Animal feed provided by FAO will improve the conditions of our animals and it will keep them from dying. It will also help supplement the small amount of sorghum we provide to our animals with some salt and straw”, he explained.
The initiative was made possible thanks to a US$ 400 000 grant from United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), which allowed the provision of supplementary feed and vaccines for the livestock of newly displaced people in Sortony and Tawilla. The distribution of the animal feed was overseen by members of newly established camp committees, comprised of 10 IDP beneficiaries from the two IDP camps.
The importance of healthy livestock
Healthy livestock provides essential livelihood support to displaced people arriving from Jebel Marra. “The livestock of displaced people should be considered among their most valuable assets. Displaced families have risked a lot to bring these animals with them and their decision to do so was made in an attempt to preserve their most valuable assets”, says El Mardi Ibrhaim, FAO Technical Officer and resident livestock specialist. “Families’ needs related to the health and productivity of their animals is an important part of an effective and holistic humanitarian response in North Darfur.”
Donkeys are an important form of transportation and source of income, helping families to collect water, firewood, wild foods and other forest products. Healthy goats produce up to 60 percent more meat and milk, which ensures families’ access to food, including protein and micronutrients. The production of milk in particular is an essential household strategy for the poorest families in Jebel Marra to protect their children from malnutrition and to supplement their diets.
In the current crises, support for livestock production can reduce stunting, as livestock provides vulnerable households with a critical source of high quality protein, high bioavailability and essential micronutrients such as iron, calcium, vitamin B12 and zinc. Such interventions also reinforce and strengthen the activities of the nutrition sector, enhancing the impact and reach of general food distribution.
The right to food and livelihood protection
Disaster-affected populations have the right to protect their livelihoods. The provision of livestock support services for displaced families is underpinned by a rights-based approach. These interventions satisfy the right to food and the right to a standard of living, in line with the Humanitarian Charter and Minimum Standards for humanitarian response.
In order to avoid non-reversible coping strategies (e.g. distress sales of productive livestock), it is essential to support the affected population. For humanitarian programming in Sudan, the vulnerability of households and individuals that depend on livestock for their livelihoods is directly linked to livestock assets. The greater the value of livestock assets, the greater the resilience of households to cope with the shock of displacement.
Reaching important milestones
FAO has reached important milestones in North Darfur State as a result of the above interventions:
- 9 500 donkeys were vaccinated, dewormed and treated against epizootic and enzootic diseases;
- 11 000 small ruminants were vaccinated against PPR, sheep pox and haemorrhagic septicaemia, dewormed and treated against enzootic diseases;
- 310 MT of animal concentrate feed were procured and distributed;
- 6 MT of mineral licks were procured and distributed; and 4 000 women were trained on manufacturing and use of fuel-efficient stoves.
FAO continues to advocate for the expansion of livestock health interventions to ensure that the needs of pastoral families across Darfur and the rest of Sudan are addressed by the humanitarian community.