Category Archives: Agriculture

Logistics Team Visits South Sudan to Assess Road Conditions Amid Looming Famine

Last month, a United Nations team travelled to Western Equitoria,  Central Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal in South Sudan to assess road conditions, an important task when famine looms in a region that is mostly agrarian. Without passable roads it is impossible for lifesaving, critical health supplies, health workers, aid agencies,  and most importantly food to reach remote areas that are cut off from main city centers especially during the rainy season and when the need is most critical for vulnerable populations.

Aid agencies including UNICEF, the Jesuit Refugee Service, and the World Food Program have warned the world that a famine is quickly nearing in South Sudan amid continued failed peace talks and violence. Famine is an extremely strong word  to use when it comes to food insecurity and no one wants to utter it until the very last moment when people, especially children, are already on the brink of dying.

The United States has already provided nearly $400 million in humanitarian aid and due to impassable road conditions much of the relief will be delivered via air drops and river transport. The United Nations has estimated that $1.8 billion will be needed to provide aid for 3.4 million people.

Logistics Cluster posted a telling map of South Sudan dated from May 2, 2014. In Western Equitoria,  Central Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal there is little infrastructure save for some primary roads, which are questionably passable, and a few primary cities. The lack of reliable infrastructure continues to make humanitarian relief difficult to fulfill.

According to UNICEF, nearly one million children in South Sudan will require treatment for acute malnutrition this year and according to Samantha Power, the US ambassador to the United Nations, 50,000 may die from malnutrition in the coming months.

“The world should not wait for a famine to be announced while children here are dying each and every day,” said UNICEF Executive Director Anthony Lake in a statement, speaking after a visit to the devastated city of Malakal, where tens of thousands of people still take shelter on a UN base. “Today we spoke to mothers who have struggled through conflict, displacement and hunger to stop their children from dying. We all have to do more, and quickly, to keep more children alive.”

 Country: South Sudan Year: 2014 Photographer: Christine Nesbitt title / Job name:  caption:      On 11 August, Nyabol Hion holds her 2-year-old daughter, Nyanmot Lam, at Al Sabbah Paediatric Hospital in Juba, the capital. “I travelled here by boat with my husband’s brother,” says Ms. Hion. “My three other children stayed with my husband in Walyar in Unity State." Her home was destroyed during the conflict, and she lived for a while in the bush after fleeing the fighting. Nyanmot’s illness began in April 2014, but she has been in hospital for only three days, receiving therapeutic milk every two hours for her malnutrition, as well as antibiotics to treat her diarrhoea and vomiting. “Nyanmot is not the only sick child I’ve seen,” say Ms. Hion. “Many children are sick, and many are passing away.” After Nyanmot’s treatment, they will return to Walyar. “My wish is for a good life and peace,” says Ms. Hion, who advises mothers that “if your child is sick, take the child to the hospital.” In early August 2014 in South Sudan, 1.1 million people have been displaced since resurgent conflict erupted in mid-December 2013. An estimated 588,222 of the displaced are children. Some 434,000 people have also sought refuge in neighbouring countries. UNICEF has appealed for US$151.7 million to cover emergency responses across the vital areas of nutrition; health; water, sanitation and hygiene; protection; education; multi-sector refugee response; and cholera response. By 5 August, 62 per cent remained unfunded.

On 11 August,NyabolHion holds her 2-year-old daughter,Nyanmot Lam, at AlSabbahPaediatric Hospital in Juba, the capital. “I travelled here by boat with my husband’s brother,” says Ms.Hion. “My three other children stayed with my husband inWalyar in Unity State.” Her home was destroyed during the conflict, and she lived for a while in the bush after fleeing the fighting. Nyanmot’s illness began in April 2014, but she has been in hospital for only three days, receiving therapeutic milk every two hours for her malnutrition, as well as antibiotics to treat her diarrhoea and vomiting. “Nyanmot is not the only sick child I’ve seen,” say Ms.Hion. “Many children are sick, and many are passing away.” After Nyanmot’s treatment, they will return toWalyar. “My wish is for a good life and peace,” says Ms.Hion, who advises mothers that “if your child is sick, take the child to the hospital.”

 

A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. A woman mixes cassava flour in the back of an old UN vehicle in Langwa Payam, on the road between Maridi and Mundri, Western Equatoria. 26 July 2014 Western Equatoria, South Sudan
A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel.A woman mixes cassava flour in the back of an old UN vehicle in Langwa Payam, on the road between Maridi and Mundri, Western Equatoria.
26 July 2014
Western Equatoria, South Sudan

 

A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. A group of truck drivers take turns clearing earth to drain water from an impassable section of road that has stopped close to 100 trucks on the road linking Western Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal

A group of truck drivers take turns clearing earth to drain water from an impassable section of road that has stopped close to 100 trucks on the road linking Western Equatoria and Western Bahr El Ghazal
UN Security Team Conducts Road Assessment in South Sudan
A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. Children stay in the cab while the Security Team jump-starts a truck with a dead battery in Western Equatoria. 23 July 2014 Western Equatoria, South Sudan
UN Security Team Conducts Road Assessment in South Sudan
A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. The Security Team tows out a stuck vehicle in Western Equatoria, near the town of Lui.
UN Security Team Conducts Road Assessment in South Sudan
A team of UN Security officials travelled through parts of Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, and Western Bahr El Ghazal, to assess the state of the road and other conditions, including local conditions that might impact travel. Drivers of an overturned truck set up a tarpaulin for shelter from the rain near Yambio, Western Equatoria. 23 July 2014 Yambio, South Sudan

Photos: UN Photo/JC McIlwaine

ONE Calls on African Countries to Commit to Increased Agriculture Funding

One of the things you will hear often when you travel throughout Africa and visit with government officials is the amount of money they have committed to lifesaving programs from HIV/AIDs national programs to malaria, maternal health, and agriculture programs. What is often hidden, however, is whether or not those governments actually come through with their financial commitments. Lip service only goes so far before those who are looking ask for hard numbers and transparency.

Warialanga Petro shows us how she learns about organic gardening at this horticulture learning center.
Warialanga Petro learns about organic gardening at this horticulture learning center. Tanzania Copyright: Social Good Moms

This week during the African Union Summit the ONE Campaign released the Ripe for Change: The Promise of Africa’s Agricultural Transformation report calling on African countries to commit to at least 10% of their national budgets on agriculture. According to ONE, only eight African countries have stood up to their commitment to spend 10% of their budgets on agriculture since 2003. Spending this amount is only reasonable given the more than two-third of Africans who make an annual living through small holder farming. Based on the report investing in agriculture is 11 times more effective at reducing poverty. ONE’s report is fitting giving the theme of this year’s summit: The Year of Agriculture and Food Security.

“Now is the time to get our leaders to commit to a big push toward implementing effective agricultural policies, scale up public investment in agriculture and catalyze private sector participation in agriculture development,” says ONE Africa Director Dr. Sipho Moyo. “Of the more than 400 million Africans living in extreme poverty, 70% live in rural areas that depend on agriculture. Remarkably, the multiplier effect of agricultural growth in sub-Saharan Africa is estimated to be 11 times greater in reducing poverty than in other non-agriculture sectors, such as utilities and mining.

Visit ONE’s map that shows the countries that have surpassed or met its 10% commitment and those who have not at www.one.org/doagric/public-spending-on-agriculture.

* Additionally, sign ONE’s petition to on their Do Agric campaign to urge 46 African countries to do right by their citizens and invest more in agriculture. www.one.org/doagric.

*Added

Covering Agriculture, Poverty, and Hunger in Tanzania

In nine days I will be traveling to Tanzania as an International Reporting Project (IRP) Fellow to cover agriculture, poverty, and hunger.  As you may recall I also traveled to Zambia this summer to cover infectious diseases as an IRP fellow. This trip promises to be a eye-opener to me as I rarely concentrate on the subject. Typically, my concentration rests on women and girls, maternal and child health, and infectious diseases. Since so much of Africa depends on agriculture I look forward to uncovering how subsistence farming, agriculture, poverty and hunger affect daily life, particularly that of women and girls.

During our time in Tanzania we will be visiting several programs and sites that deal specifically with poverty and hunger alleviation through agriculture including a Feed the Future and One Acre Fund site.

According to Feed the Future, Tanzania (a country of 42 million) has a 68 percent poverty rate. Agriculture accounts for 25 percent of Tanzania’s GDP. Additionally, and even more importantly, agriculture employs over 75 percent of the population.

Tanzania has recently laid out a framework, the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty (NSGRP), to alleviate poverty and to create sustainable development of the economy. The goals of the framework consist of improving rural infrastructure, irrigation, mechanization, research and development, farm inputs, and increasing renewable natural resources. For example, Tanzania has an irrigation potential of 29.4 million hectares, but only irritates .33 million hectares, an area that statistically needs increased investment and an overhaul of goal setting and national improvements.

The Tanzanian government understands that to reach certain agricultural and economic benchmarks they must invest more of its national budget in the agricultural sector. In 2010 – 2011, only 7.78 percent of the budget was allocated to agriculture. Although the Tanzanian government pays for most agricultural investments there is some foreign direct investment in crop buying, but the investment numbers have been low due to supposed risks in investing in agriculture. While Tanzania is widely encouraging private investment in its agricultural sector, investments have been low. However, development partners including the Government of Japan, the World Bank, Irish Aid, International Fund for Agricultural Development and African Development Bank have pledge $315.5 USD towards improving Tanzania’s agricultural sector. The overall costs of the National Strategy for Growth and Reduction of Poverty implementations, however, total $2.1 billion USD.

I look forward to exploring these issues while in Tanzania. You can follow along here on the blog as well as on Impatient Optimists, Babble, Huffington Post, as well as on our African Global Health and Development digital magazine.

I will be in Tanzania from September 30 – October 9.

Source: Creating an Enabling Agricultural Policy Environment

Photo: United Nations | Fred Hoy