Aug 2, 2021

Sowing Hope Amidst Desperation

Peter shows results of his farming.
Peter shows results of his farming.

Peter Riek has planted carrots, okra and pumpkin in his garden at Dhoreak, South Sudan. He proudly displayed the results of his labor when our team came to survey the outcome of this years planting.  All of the seeds provided through this GlobalGiving project with the goal of fighting famine with farming. Peter is one of 214 farmers in three communities currently benefiting from this project.

Nearby, Mary Hoth is tending her garden.  One papaya tree is protected from rising floodwater. But the remainder of her garden may be lost due to flooding.  This is the current delima in this region of South Sudan.

When the rains returned in April, much of the water from last years flooding remained.  For many farmers it meant a complete loss of their crops as well as their stored grains and other foodstuffs.  Other farmers, like Peter, were able to continue to grow vegetables and fruits.  His farm is on higher ground.

We work in one of the most remote regions of South Sudan.  It is the floodplain of the White Nile, an area called the Sudd—50,000 square miles of swamp. The Nuer people in this region are used to seasonal flooding.  They have the rainy season and the dry season.  But now, with climate change, the severity and length of the rainy season is causing havoc and creating uncertainty for all of the farmers we work with.

How do you fight famine with farming when the area is faced with massive flooding due to climate change?  That's the task we're facing. The question we will answer.

Education is one of the keys.  What have others done when faced with similar challenges?  What crops are more resiliant to the floods—while still providing for the dietary needs.  Where is the higher ground? What information can our current farmers provide to help others.  Our team in South Sudan is beginning an area survey to ask some of these questions.  Volunteers in Nairobi, Kenya are consulting with the agriculgture colleges to see if we can begin to work with an expert to help us answer the difficult questions.

And yet, amidst these extraordinary conditions, we have decided to expand the agriculture program with the goal of working with 1,000 farmers by the end of 2024.  By September of 2021 we hope to have added 200 additional farmers to the list of those we are helping.  The following two years we will add another 600.  Seeds, tools, and training for 1,000 family farms will help the Nuer in this area fight food insecurity, help their famiies stay healthy, and put a big dent in famine with sustainable farming.

We can do this with your help.  We are grateful for all you've done so far.

(The names used in this report are are not the real names of our project's constituents)

Taking a survey in Dhoreak.
Taking a survey in Dhoreak.
A foot pump is used to help water the garden.
A foot pump is used to help water the garden.
Severe flooding due to climate change.
Severe flooding due to climate change.
Distributing seedlings, Dhoreak, South Sudan
Distributing seedlings, Dhoreak, South Sudan
Mary protects her Papaya tree.
Mary protects her Papaya tree.

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Jul 30, 2021

Climate Change and Refugees-Flooding puts a million people on the move

In the Old Fangak Market.
In the Old Fangak Market.

The region where we work is drowning.  Fields are flooded, homes abandoned, the village market has a small stream running through it.  It is a drowned land.

When the rains returned in earnest this July, the area around Old Fangak, South Sudan was still water drenched from last year's rain.  After three days of non-stop rain recently the entire village was under a foot of water.  As our manager in Old Fangak put it, "it's not good." 

Understatement but true.  It's not good. The floodwater is a direct threat to the health of the people here.  Imagine spending most of your day in dirty water up to your knees. No place to sleep at night that isn't wet. Losing your stored food to water that rose too quickly.

Because of the flooding, thousands of people in our region are on the move.  They are seeking places with higher ground.  One of those payams is Toch.

In the past three weeks our borehole drilling team has been working in Toch, South Sudan and his drilled three new water wells.  Most of the people who will benefit from this are internally displaced people (IDP's), the people who have fled their homes due to the flooding.  We expect that they will make Toch a permanent residence because it is a little farther away from the river and drier than most villages in this area.

Another response to the flooding is in the area of agriculture.  As people move to these new communities, they will need food. Our program has the specific goal of fighting food insecurity through farming.  We intend to provide seeds, tools, and training to the IDP's.  Our goal is to help 200 new families within the next six months.  They will need hoes, machetes, rakes, watering cans, and seeds.  We will also provide training so that they have a better chance of success.

Although the climate change caused flooding is making an already fragile population less secure, there is good news.  We are already in the region and have the team to help.  We are the only group drilling boreholes in this area.  Our experience in helping small family farms is unmatched.  The right people in the right place at the right time.  A perfect "rain" storm of opportunity to help the people of South Sudan.

We are grateful for your support. It's the only way we can be successful.  

Floods causing insecurity.
Floods causing insecurity.
Children in Old Fangak.
Children in Old Fangak.
One of three new boreholes, Toch.
One of three new boreholes, Toch.

Links:

Mar 15, 2021

Flooding Destroys Crops - Seeds of Hope Planted

Sifting for fallen grains.
Sifting for fallen grains.

It is not easy to watch.  Five women in the village of Old Fangak, South Sudan sitting by the riverbank sifting the dirt in search of kernels of sorghum which have spilled from torn relief bags.  This is not easy work, but they find it necessary.  Their children are starving. They are starving.

Recent heavy rains in Uganda flooded the White Nile and its tributaries in the Sud.  The high waters destroyed most of the stored food from earlier harvests.  It has displaced more than a million people in South Sudan.  Here in Old Fangak, 80% of the new arrivals are coming because they lost their homes and all their food.  Even the large international agencies cannot come close to feeding everyone.  The situation is dire and that is why the women will sit and sift the dirt for hours at a time to find anything edible they can.

There's another story happening simultaneously.  Men and women farmers from the village of Dhoreak are carrying foot pumps and hoses to their village.  The Alaska Sudan Medical Project purchased the supplies in Juba, the nation’s capital.  They made a long journey down the Nile aboard a trader boat arriving at Old Fangak just in time. 

We had recently identified 17 families in this remote village who wanted to learn to become farmers. They are wanting to fight famine with farming. Mery Chol Tut, Nyadak Kot Juich, Thomes Gatdor Khor, Jima Par Mayien and Both Tiret Khor are among those helping to carry the hoses and water pumps through the flooded areas to reach their new farm sites.   With your help we had purchased seeds for these 17 families and distributed them in early January.  Our agriculture coordinator. Tyak Wang, gave lessons on how to till the soil and plant the seeds and small tree seedlings we provided.

Today, even though many areas are flooded, these families have new crops of onions, carrots, watermelon, kale, eggplant and okra—with sprouts rising from the newly tilled soil.  Until now these small gardens were watered by hand, one bucket at a time. The foot pumps will help them water more easily and become more productive.  Despite the challenges facing this region, these families will be able to feed themselves and provide food for their neighbors. They are fighting famine. 

It is the small successes we celebrate.  Seeds were also distributed to farmers in Old Fangak as well as the village of Toch.  In all more than 150 families received seeds and tools to help them feed themselves. More than 300 pounds of seeds along with dozens of hoes and watering cans.  We could not do this work without support coming from you.  We would like to do more but have run out of supplies for now.  Given the conditions it is not surprising that every day someone comes and requests seeds and tools.  They would like to join the others.  We hope to be able to help sometime soon.

The Nuer people living in this region understand that not everything will be solved at once. They are patient and they are thankful. When we share our plans—our desire to provide them the tools, training and supplies needed to grow their own vegetables and fruits—they smile and say, "thank you."    We are also thankful for the support coming from you.  We could not do the good work without you.   Together fighting famine with farming.                      

Facing famine.
Facing famine.
Carrying hoses and pumps.
Carrying hoses and pumps.
Foot pumps to help farming.
Foot pumps to help farming.
Seed recipients.
Seed recipients.
Lessons on farming.
Lessons on farming.
A new farm in Dhoreak.
A new farm in Dhoreak.
Success!
Success!

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