The Norwegian government donates additional USD 7.8 million towards the Emergency Response Livelihoods Programme, implemented by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). Norwegian Ambassador to South Sudan, Tone Tinnes, announced the donation at the signing of a cooperation agreement with FAO at the Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries in Juba on June 17, 2016. The funds add to Norway’s USD 15 million contribution to the programme.
According to Ambassador Tinnes, the earlier contributions were used to purchase and distribute livelihoods kits, including crop and vegetable seeds, as well as fishing kits to nearly 100,000 households through FAO. At least half a million livelihood kits and nearly 20,000 fuel efficient stoves have been distributed and millions of cattle vaccinated against diseases.
Tinnes appreciated the efforts of all programme partners, ensuring its success and continuity. But she also she also cautioned: “It is critical that the people, the Transitional Government of National Unity (TGoNU) and donors build and ensure long term solutions to the problems South Sudan faces.” Tinnes added that it was important to ensure there are sustainable methods to reduce food insecurity and hunger.
Insecurity, the deteriorating economic situation, poor harvests and displacement are blamed for the current food shortage affecting an estimated 5.3 million people mainly children, pregnant women and the elderly people. Ten months after the signing of a peace agreement between the government and SPLM-In Opposition, the implementation process leaves a lot to be desired amid and intensifying humanitarian crisis.
FAO Country Representative, Serge Tissort expressed hope that the livelihood kits distributed so far, enabled farmers to restart or continue producing food. He also said that it was vital to continue helping vulnerable farmers, fishing communities and herders to build stronger, more resilient livelihoods and to become more self-sufficient in food production.
Speaking at the signing ceremony, the Minister for Animal Resources and Fisheries, James Janka Duku, said the donation will address the nation’s emergency situation. Duku is optimistic the support provided by the government and people of Norway will have a positive impact: “The support by the government of Norway to assist vulnerable South Sudanese families, who depend entirely on agriculture for their food security and livelihood, is greatly appreciated,” he added.
Against a background of rampant corruption in the public sector, Duku assured Norway that the Transitional Government of National Unity through his ministry will ensure accountability for the funds provided under the Emergency Response Programme. “Not a single penny that is being contributed by people who are not different from us should go to waste.” He also said that food security remains one of the biggest challenges in South Sudan and his ministry plays a key role in all government intervention plans.
In a brief interview with The Niles, the Animal Resources and Fisheries Minister said the new donation for the emergency response programme would prioritise food security by reducing market prices, improving animal health and fish production. He said that interventions in emergency situations overlap and may translate into long-term initiatives.
“We have 11.7 million heads of cattle but hardly reach the market. We want to explore avenues of utilising these resources for livelihoods and economic development,” Duku said. A government team also travelled to Renk, in Upper Nile, to source grains that can supply the markets and lower the skyrocketing food prices. According to Duku, at least 30,000 bags of grain are expected within this week.
Duku added that the plan also aims to support fishing communities to increase supply to markets especially in the capital Juba. His ministry plans to visit fishing communities along the Nile up to Malakal to “organise them” and “identify required interventions” to enable the fishers to provide larger quantities to the marek. “They say South Sudan has 400-500 metric tons of fish in the river. We want to see how much of that we can get to the market.”
While guiding the Norwegian envoy on a tour of cold chain facilities for animal vaccines at the ministry compound, Duku said plans were under way to rehabilitate a malfunctioning laboratory to address issues of animal health in Juba. The Minister also appealed to FAO to assist in designing and transforming another laboratory based in Rajaf Payam into a full-fledged research centre for the country. He stressed that animal health needs to be addressed to prevent different cattle diseases that affect pastoralist communities whose survival entirely depends on their animals.