Starvation in South Sudan: how to help


1:39 pm - March 1st 2012

by Guest    


      Share on Tumblr

contribution by Tim Flatman

In May last year, up to 150,000 people were displaced from Abyei when the Sudanese Armed Forces invaded the area, burned down the local Ngok Dinka population’s homes and looted schools and churches for materials that can now be found for sale in Muglad market.

I have just returned from a visit to Abyei, where I was able to meet with the first returnees north of the river Kiir, and distribute a small amount of food ($1200 worth of grain & flour) bought with donations from family and friends.

Government soldiers are still present in the town, but the former residents of the area have started to return to their villages and report that they are well-protected by the Ethiopian peackeepers (UNISFA) who are now fully deployed in the area.

But they missed the last planting season while they were displaced and have no food available now. They are surviving on wild fruit and gum, but report that they are not sure if some of it is poisonous and that it is making them ill.

A lack of food is not deterring returnees from telling their family and friends to come back. They cite a number of reasons – the most important of which is their strong emotional attachment to the land where their ancestors have lived and died.

Numbers of returnees will continue to rise, despite the food shortages. Pressure must be brought to bear on NGOs to carry out regular distributions, as well as fixing water pumping systems that were vandalised by the Sudanese Armed Forces.

In the meantime, people are starving now, and so with the help of friends and family of the returnees in nearby Agok, I intend to carry out a distribution as soon as possible.

£4,000 will be enough to buy and transport enough grain to feed the returnees for a month.

For more details and to donate, go here: http://grassroots.org.uk/home/fundraising/abyeisudan


[A longer article will soon be posted at reliefweb and will be linked here. Video clips from Tim’s visit are starting to go up at http://www.youtube.com/user/FriendsofAbyei]

    Share on Tumblr   submit to reddit  


About the author
This is a guest post.
· Other posts by


Story Filed Under: Africa ,News

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.


Reader comments


1. So Much For Subtlety

But they missed the last planting season while they were displaced and have no food available now. They are surviving on wild fruit and gum, but report that they are not sure if some of it is poisonous and that it is making them ill. …. £4,000 will be enough to buy and transport enough grain to feed the returnees for a month.

I don’t want to be mean about this, but surely this article needs some awareness of the obvious problem – making things worse by trying to do good. They have not planted their crops for this year. Fine. They need help. But if you give them food for free, they might not plant their crops for next year either. Why bother?

This article needs some vague awareness of the dangers here. The last thing they need is for us to make things worse by destroying their agricultural sector.

Perhaps the sensible solution is to give them the 4000 quid, not the food?

#1

Thanks for the comment. Makes me laugh that people commenting on Liberal Conspiracy are always certain they know more than the OP. But I’m glad you raised it in case anyone else was thinking that.

One of the reasons people have returned (the article was cut down quite a lot), in addition to a strong attachment to the land and poor conditions elsewhere (one woman told me it was better to starve in your homeland than to starve elsewhere; one man told me he had been unable to bury a relative who had starved while displaced as no-one would give him land, so it was better to return home so if people starved they could be buried and in the same land as their ancestors), was that some of the returnees wanted to prepare the way for the greater numbers who will return in October or soon after (when the rainy season is over). They are currently rebuilding tukuls to live in (although need help with plastic sheeting for the rains – the grass/wood they can source themselves as UNISFA are escorting them on their trips to gather it) and want to prepare the land for cultivation too.

But if they are to be able to plant in May and harvest in October, they need to be alive. Dead people don’t grow anything. So giving money for food now is a priority.

And please also make sure you have a vague awareness of the dangers. If you give starving people seed and don’t give them food, they will eat the seed instead of planting it. That’s why FAO doesn’t tend to give seed out until just before the planting season (May). I’m still hoping that by April the FAO will have re-engaged. I’ve talked with them about alternatives even if they’re not willing to go north of the Kiir (giving returnees seed and tools to take in with them nearer the start of the planting season, etc).

As for better to give the £4k, this is not some idea I’ve plucked out of the air. Food has been identified as the key need right now by both the returnees themselves and the community further afield. They know the dangers of dependency better than you, having been displaced before. But in this case it is not dependency that has destroyed their agricultural sector, it is the Sudanese Armed Forces who have destroyed their agricultural sector. Now they are trying to rebuild it. But they need to be alive to do it, and that takes food.

Makes me laugh that people commenting on Liberal Conspiracy are always certain they know more than the OP.

Well, quite often they really do. Not always, of course.

I have donated. Well done, Tim. Great initiative in support of people who are victims of a govt controlled by an indiced war criminal and who, contrary to @1’s crass dependency theorising, just need the help now to be able to grow their own food this coming season.

5. So Much For Subtlety

2. tim f

Makes me laugh that people commenting on Liberal Conspiracy are always certain they know more than the OP. But I’m glad you raised it in case anyone else was thinking that.

Yeah because when it comes to aid the professionals are doing such a great job. What are we up to? A trillion US dollars and no measurable improvement?

But if they are to be able to plant in May and harvest in October, they need to be alive. Dead people don’t grow anything. So giving money for food now is a priority.

Well if you’re giving money, I have no issue. If you’re giving food that is a problem.

Food has been identified as the key need right now by both the returnees themselves and the community further afield. They know the dangers of dependency better than you, having been displaced before.

Well it is nice you’re consulting them, however it is not obvious that they will ask for what is in their long term interests. As we can see with people on welfare in the UK. It is not enough to say they want food. You need to make sure they will be better off if you give it to them.

If they have not been able to plant because of the Sudanese Army, giving them food will be an especial disaster because there is food there – this is not a drought where no one can plant. Sudan has food. If you undercut farmers it won’t.

Speaking as an African, I am sure you commetatators will agree that I know best about what to do.
Teh Sudanese need to STOP FIGHTING. They are costing themseleves, and costing foreigners.
SUPPORT PEACE IN SUDAN!
DON’T INNOCENTS DIE BECAUSE OF ARROGANT WAR MONGERERS!


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Liberal Conspiracy

    Starvation in South Sudan – how you can help http://t.co/CBtG8V1f

  2. Sanabitur Anima Mea

    Starvation in South Sudan – how you can help http://t.co/CBtG8V1f

  3. Liberal Conspiracy

    Starvation in South Sudan: how to help http://t.co/CBtG8V1f

  4. Jason Brickley

    Starvation in South Sudan: how to help http://t.co/1ZeBVuZQ

  5. Jennifer Hynes

    Starvation in South Sudan: how to help http://t.co/CBtG8V1f

  6. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : Starvation in South Sudan: how to help http://t.co/p1dzQAKG

  7. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – Starvation in South Sudan: how to help http://t.co/8F3mWrBY

  8. Chris Thomas

    #UK : Starvation in South Sudan: how to help http://t.co/p1dzQAKG

  9. Noxi

    RT @libcon: Starvation in South Sudan – how you can help http://t.co/907L5YhN

  10. Tim Flatman

    Rule of the internet: commenters at @libcon always think they are more expert on a subject than the original poster: http://t.co/Qpby62Yj





Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.