FAO emergencies and resilience

South Sudan: Cash for seeds brings new hope to Santa and 12 000 vulnerable farmers in Magwi



Santa Angwech David, 23 years old, lives in Magwi, near the South Sudanese border with Kenya. She’s the mother of two girls and a boy and dreams that her children have all that she could not have as a young orphan, including going to school and being educated. Farming is the only way Santa can sustain herself and her family. She is a strong female farmer and a hard worker who is committed to her land, however, she faces a number of challenges that prevent her from earning more and providing enough food for her children. As is the case for many farmers in South Sudan, she does not have enough money to buy the agricultural tools required to farm properly (like hoes or pangas) and high-quality seeds (like maize, groundnuts, beans, cassava or sesame) that could guarantee a healthy diet for her family and a basic income. Santa has to sow whichever seeds she finds using her own hands.

This year, Santa’s life changed when she was selected as a beneficiary of a cash-for-seeds intervention that FAO initiated in Magwi, in partnership with Global Aim, a South Sudanese organization.

In light of the coronavirus disease 2019, FAO had to adapt its programme to avert the risks of virus transmission. For the first time in South Sudan, FAO started distributing cash to the most vulnerable families across the country. Cash-for-seed interventions give farmers the opportunity to buy the inputs they choose and need the most at the local market, and at the same time, support local producers and artisan groups to sell their produce and expand their business. Each beneficiary received the equivalent of USD 30 (5 000 South Sudanese Pounds), to cover the most critical needs of their household. 

Thanks to this cash, Santa is seeing the light at the end of the tunnel and can finally envision a better future for her three kids.

“I will immediately use part of this money to buy 27 kg of groundnuts, other varieties of seeds and some axes”, says Santa smiling. “I’ll also have enough seeds to plant in the coming seasons and I won’t need to worry for a while”, she continued. “If this kind of support continues, I will be able to feed my children with healthy food, and also earn enough to buy clothes, medicines and pay the school fees”.

Santa’s is one of the 21 000 farming families receiving cash for seeds as part of the Emergency Livelihood Response Programme 2020 project funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). To date, through this project, USAID has helped FAO reach 18 220 households in Warrap, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Central Equatoria and Eastern Equatoria States of South Sudan. Cash distributions are now starting in Western Equatoria State and will be completed by end of August. 

USAID is one of the biggest contributors to FAO’s Emergency Livelihood Response Programme in South Sudan, through supporting a wide range of activities including the distribution of emergency livelihood kits, cash for seeds, nutrition vouchers and cash for work. In 2020 only, thanks to USAID’s support, FAO will reach 431 000 households (nearly 2.6 million people).