As a result of severe drought and ongoing conflict and insecurity in South Sudan, CARE is implementing the FEED (Fortifying Equality and Economic Diversification) project to help farmers with materials like seeds, tools, and training so they can feed their families and support their local economy.
Imagine living in the middle of a conflict zone, then imagine trying to survive as a farmer after an incredible difficult drought. For many South Sudanese, whose main source of income is agriculture, this is the difficult and at times nearly impossible reality.
“I was forced to leave my home because of the ongoing conflict between the Jur and Dinka from Cuiebet County,” says Ferida Akoyi Mogi is a 28-year-old mother of seven, who lives in Wulu centre. “The fighting spread to Rua and the animals with it as well. They destroyed our crops and we were forced to find a safe place to stay.”
Ferida says she came to Wulu because the language spoken there is familiar, and thus she could fit in better. However, settling and adapting to life in Wulu was not as smooth as she had hoped.
“It was difficult to change and adapt to the culture of Wulu, and it is different from mine, but we try every day,” says Ferida. “It was hard for me to adjust to the new style of living and to buy a house and land for my family to stay in.”
Fortunately Ferida was able to take part in training through the CARE's FEED (Fortifying Equality and Economic Diversification) project, in partnership with World Vision and Oxfam.
The project supports the formation of Farmer Field Schools (FFS), which help support farmers with improved tools and seeds, as well as training on efficient farming and marketing methods. CARE was able to establish 69 schools during the first year of the implementation of FEED Project (2015).
“I took part in training and learned some new techniques to improve the production of crops I am growing in the small portion of plot I have at home. Instead of buying food, we are now growing it and it is enough for our needs. We are saving a lot of income not going to the market.”
Addressing gender barriers is also part of the project - as it is in all of CARE's work.
"Before, in our culture women and girls were not considered influential in decision-making and participating in any communal activities. It was only men and boys that were free to engage in any kind of community activities and make decision that best suits them. In my community, girls are source of wealth and riches to their parents and they were not considered even to be in school,”says Rebecca Nyandeng Chol, a 26 year-old resident of Agok, and one of the FEED project beneficiaries.
Rebecca works to earn money for her family. She explained that she personally gained a lot from gender training. She has learned that women are able to do the same activities as men. Knowledge gained in the gender training sessions has empowered them - now women also give their opinions.
Salim Abdalla Salim, a male beneficiary of the project, adds that his relationship with his wife are now better than before. According to Salim, in his religion and culture women are not allowed to go and work far from their homes, and such beliefs have made women and girls underrepresented in many forms of decision-making, leaving the man to take full responsibility of the home.
Through FEED's training, Salim has learned a lot about equal participation, ownership of productive assets, equal opportunities for both girls and boys. He said he has realized how important it is to empower women, enable them to be independent. Shared responsibility benefits both women and men. Salim also noted that most of the people from his community who participated in gender training sessions appreciated the learning. The world is changing, and if boys and girls are given equal opportunities, it means that when they are adults they will be able to be responsible for themselves. He promised to be an example and act as activist for women/girls empowerment in his community.