Project Title: Increased Food Security and Sustainable Livelihoods for Poor and Marginalized Households in Western Bahr el Ghazal State, South Sudan

Areas of Intervention: Western Bahr el Ghazal State & Warrap State.

Estimated budget: 350,000 USD

Duration 3years

Target groups: Farmers, CBOs farmers Households.

Specific Objective 1: To improve food security and nutrition of particularly vulnerable farmers marginalised people

Specific objective 2: Strengthened local farmers and institutions to better address food insecurity and climate threats in Western Bahr el Ghazal state.

CARD Concrete expected results of the intervention, leading to the achievement of these objectives are: increased production and diversification of agricultural production, increased awareness on nutrition issues, an improved and accessible marketing system and increased food access for vulnerable IDPs.

A multifaceted approach will be applied and incorporates building capacities of farmers, CBOs and stakeholders and the creation of a demand-driven service delivery to farmers prioritising community ownership while reinforcing and working through existing structures. It incorporates also a rights-based approach (claim-making capabilities of target groups) to food security.

The project will to collaborate closely with the government and other development actors within the context of the Wau strategic plan.

 

 

Food Security & Livelihood

Food insecurity among vulnerable populations exists as a result of physical unavailability of food, lack of social/ economic access to adequate food and inadequate food utilisation. Food insecure target groups are not able to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for a healthy and active life.

Insufficient availability of nutritious food. Rural poor and vulnerable populations are unable to produce sufficient quantities to meet their nutritional needs. The constraints and root causes are linked to poor, ineffective and unsustainable farming practices and focus on mono culture. Specific problem areas in this respect are: 1) insufficient technical know-how, poor access to improved technologies 2) poor access to resources such as land, quality agricultural inputs, Business Development Services and financial sources and 3) insufficient organisation of farmers, all resulting in low productivity and production. These constraints are further exacerbated by dependency on climate (rain-fed agriculture) and vulnerability to natural hazards such as frequent drought or erratic rainfalls linked to climate change that result in water logging and/or floods.

In addition, as a result of inter and intra state conflicts, essential knowledge about agricultural practices has disappeared and productive assets were destroyed, severely affecting livelihoods in the area. Insecurity, strive and poor governance, handicapping effective and inclusive policies, further add to the problem.

Target populations lack coping mechanisms such as cereal banks or storage facilities to ensure food availability in case of shortage. In spite of their key roles in ensuring food security at household level (sourcing of input, production, marketing, processing, storage, etc.), the space for participation of women in production and decision-making around food security for the family is very limited.

Limited access to nutritious food. Vulnerable communities are unable to purchase food, due to poverty, limited livelihood options and lack of savings culture. Even if households dispose of some small income, food is either not available in the local markets, or access to markets is hampered by factors such as distance, poor infrastructures (roads and communications) and dysfunctional markets. Market imperfections also limit their ability to sell agricultural surplus, if any, and consequently to earn an income that would permit them to buy (more diversified) food items.

Inadequate nutritional outcomes. Because of smallholders’ focus on staple crops as the main food component, the diet is not diversified. There is limited knowledge on and awareness of nutrition and sanitation, resulting in malnutrition and other health-related problems. Hence the project will also focus on the diversification of household diets by improving the access to micro-nutrients (kitchen gardens, fruit, poultry, etc.) and by increasing awareness on nutritional topics among the target group.

Poor public policy management processes. Government policies are not conducive for food security with little adaptation to local situations. The unsolved issue of land ownership and use creates tensions between different groups such as pastoralists and agriculturalists. Capacities of governments to deliver technical support, coordination, administrative facilitation and to link activities at different government levels are weak in South Sudan, Wau not being an exception. Food insecurity has usually been addressed with humanitarian interventions, creating dependency of communities who have got used to food distributions (handouts), while root causes have not been addressed. CARD will take developmental approach in addressing food insecurity.

Current food security status. the reports document on the food insecurity are very scary  with a significant number of states in South Sudan are  experiencing food insecurity seriously due to prolonged dryness.  The ongoing conflict in the country has worsen the already worsen with thousands of people survive on relief food assistance provide by WFP is an indicator that thing are worse, people are food insecure.  Western Bahr el Ghazal is without exception in this scenario the number of numbers of vulnerable groups could be even higher compare to other neighbour’s states. Causes of food insecurity are attributed to a combination of structural effects (such as low productivity and income, low human capital, poor market integration, the burden of waterborne diseases) exacerbated by exposure to multiple shocks (such as high food prices especially during the hunger gap period in and around September) worse of all the situation is exacerbated by inter-tribal conflict thousands of people of Western Bahr el Ghazal are in the camp. WBS received a high percentage of IDPs who are suffering from high food insecurity levels.

Livelihoods Context and Socio-economic Characteristics of Wau and Jur River Counties

The main target groups of the proposed intervention live in areas within the Ironstone plateau livelihood zone. Of the two counties targeted agriculture is the main livelihood in Wau County, while agro-pastoralism is mainly practiced in Jur River County.

Although the rural communities in Wau County are predominantly sedentary farmers, the urban population in Wau town and its suburbs have a sizeable number of returnees and IDPs. Western Bahr el Ghazal State ranks 3rd highest in terms of number of returnees from Sudan (17,000) and 3rd of IDPs approximately total of 75000 IDPs and it is estimated that about 4% of the households in the state host either IDPs or returnees. Returnees have had to make drastic livelihoods changes for food and income sources while IDPs mainly depend on limited quantities of food aid, some of which they sell to earn a small income. Both groups are highly vulnerable with many of them involved in petty businesses, menial jobs and daily labour activities to earn meager incomes for survival.

In Jur River County, in addition to crop farming, the communities also own some livestock, of which most of the cattle are kept with neighboring Dinka tribes but due to ongoing conflict which occurred between Dinka the cattle keeper and the Luo the farmers; has discouraged most Luo from keeping animal.

As the county with the least developed agricultural production in WBS, the communities normally supplement their household food and income during the lean/hunger gap period with income from livestock trade. Grains are either obtained with money earned from selling livestock or by direct exchange of livestock (especially goats) for grains. Therefore, livestock-grains term of trade is an important economic factor in this area.

Identification of perceived needs and constraints in the target communities

Documented information about the target areas is very scarce, but fortunately partners know the region well and have intense contact with the local communities and the formal and informal authorities, both in the rural area in Jur River County as in Wau Town. Several projects have been ongoing to address urgent needs of the target area population. Nonetheless, there remains a need for more in-depth consultations, collection of more and accurate data, quantification, profound analysis and surveying. This will lay the foundation for adequate intervention strategies and methodologies. A baseline survey during a 3 months inception period is foreseen.

Experience of implementing partner and needs assessment conducted in the target areas identified the following needs and constraints in the target communities:

  • Low agricultural productivity. Sorghum, groundnut and maize are the most produced crops in the target rural area but agricultural yields and quality are extremely low and hardly sufficient to feed a household, especially the poorest and most vulnerable ones. Most farmers use very rudimentary agricultural techniques and many lack even the most basic agricultural tools such as hoes and picks.

There is a huge lack of knowledge about more efficient production methods, like mixed cropping, soil-moisture conservation techniques and ox-ploughing Besides households are focused on their own immediate needs and don’t produce for the external market. The cultivated areas are, therefore, limited and there is no substantial surplus in the target areas. The farmers are subsequently very vulnerable to external shocks. In case of unpredicted adverse weather conditions, which increasingly occurred during the last years, their cultivated area will not be sufficient to even feed the own household during the hunger period in which case they have to resort to sell off part of their livestock to overcome this period. Formerly the local varieties of sorghum (major staple food) were well adapted to the environment but nowadays the long variety often produces less than usual or even fails completely due to prolonged dry spells in the rainy season.

  • Inadequate knowledge-transfer systems. Extension services in the target area are of low quality and fail to really reach the farmers in terms of content and practical applicability. Methodologies are often top-down and not participatory in nature and based on research which is alienated from the people it is intended for. Institutions are ill-equipped and miss financial and technical support. The farmers in the area are not exposed to external knowledge and remain practising their traditional agricultural techniques.
  • Lack of post-harvest handling and access to profitable markets. Storage facilities are inadequate or non-existing, leading to important post-harvest losses. Consequently, many households have already exhausted their own produce even before the hunger period commences. Farmers receive very low prices for crops after harvest and animals due to lack of marketing skills and market information. Since farmers are not organised to create larger volumes, they resort to individual marketing. Long distances to markets enhance farmers’ dependency on opportunistic middlemen. Selling livestock during the hunger period results in lower prices because of increased supply and reduced demand. The combination of these factors have a highly negative impact on their bargaining power leading to high degrees of vulnerability, in particular during periods of the hunger gap (August-October) and shocks related with climate change.
  • Limited focus on production of nutrient-rich foods like vegetables and fruits. Most fruits consumed in rural villages are collected in the wild and production of vegetables is virtually absent, certainly among the poorest households. Planting own fruit trees will be a burden financially and labour wise (tending and especially watering during the first year) and will only reap fruits after several years. Investments take a long time to be paid back. Such a long-term horizon is not appropriate for the farmers who are struggling to survive on a seasonal/yearly base. Vegetable growing is absent in the rural areas mostly because of ignorance about their nutritional value and non-exposure. Besides vegetable growing also requires specific agricultural knowledge which is not available. It’s also cumbersome to protect the crops against roaming animals and needs special measures like fencing. Prevalence of micronutrient malnutrition is extremely high in the target areas lowering resistance to diseases, causing stunting and blindness in children, and increasing the risks for both mothers and infants during childbirth.

Besides targeting vulnerable rural households the intervention will also focus on access to food for IDPs and The situation of these IDPs is very precarious due to limited access to services, livelihoods and infrastructure. Many of these households are food insecure due to:

Lack of employment opportunities for returnees and IDPs in Wau Town. Employment opportunities in Wau town are very scarce and most IDPs lack the skills to be hired or to start up an own income generating activity. Many of them are not able to earn sufficient income to provide enough food for their children, let alone to cover the costs of health care or clothing. They are focused on day-to-day survival and try to get some casual jobs just to earn a minimum income. Many IDPs depend on food assistance, and undernourishment is a serious problem especially among children, evidenced by the hundreds of them feed on food distribution in the various camps on a daily basis.

In Wau County, particularly in the urban area, an assessment carried out by CARD, concluded that significant numbers of IDPs are not able to maintain and feed their families and resort to petty trade or other coping mechanisms to survive. There is an apparent need for income generating activities for IDPs who have limited access to irregular food distributions in inadequate quantities and for returnees, who have no received a food package for a period of only 3 months. The majority has lost agricultural production skills. Access to land in the urban environment is extremely limited; however, small plots in compounds will be available for horticulture, also dependent on the suitability of the soil.

Reasons for the selection of the target groups and activities

The target groups selected for the current intervention are located in two counties of WBS, namely Wau County (mainly focussing on the urban areas) and Jur River County.

In Wau County the selected target groups consist of mostly IDPs in the various camp who are living in harsh conditions in congested locations in and around Wau town. CARD carried out an assessment in July 2017 in 5 collected centred where IDPs live. A significant number of HHs were found to be FHHs. Main sources of income are petty trade (selling of firewood) and small business. 20% earn less than SSP 5/day, equivalent to USD 1.5/day.

Living conditions of IDPs are extremely poor and they depend on little support they get from WFP however, some are living in already stretched host families and others. Some stay with relatives, while others have squatted in open spaces. Negative coping strategies are apparent such as selling of household assets or cutting/selling firewood. High commodity prices.  In 2017 as compared to previous years have forced HHs have spent their savings rapidly further increasing their degree of vulnerability. Many IDPs that have settled in town have lost their farming skills due to extended periods of displacement being dependent on hand outs and, therefore, having resorted to alternative ways of securing an income.

In Wau IDPs are specific target groups who will have access to horticultural and poultry skills training and support (Result 2). Food insecure HHs of the resident population and the IDPs target group will participate in activities such as kitchen vegetable gardens to improve family diet and also contribute to HH income (Result 2). A specific target group is a leper community in Hai Masna. WFP halted food distributions here and thousand extremely vulnerable HHs lack access to local safety nets.

In Jur River County, the majority of the population are subsistence farmers among them high numbers of IDPs. Here, highly vulnerable HHs, in particular but not exclusively FHHs will benefit from higher agricultural production, diversification and marketing support.

Selection criteria will be further tailored during the inception phase (baseline and other information) and will be based on measurable and objective criteria for food insecurity and vulnerability (malnourished and poorest). A local forum incorporating local leadership (including local chiefs, women leaders) will take a lead in final decision-making. The implementing partner plan to support this process in conjunction with Payam authorities and RRC.

Relevance of the project to target groups

In Jur River County increased staple crop production (acreage expansion and higher production targets per unit) will reduce food insecurity, particularly for highly food insecure and vulnerable groups. A functioning market information system (Result 3) will gradually benefit the wider population in the area. The self-reliance threshold in terms of acreage lies between 2 and 3 fedan, while the average acreage per HH is estimated at 1.5 fedan. Increase of both the cultivation area and the production per unit is foreseen in the project under Result 1.

In Wau Town and in Jur River County, HHs will benefit from the introduction of kitchen gardens and poultry rearing (poultry only in Wau town) which will impact on the composition of the diet of the HH, improving their well-being as well as increase their income in the short and in the long term (Result 2). The aspect of utilization of food has been explicitly added in the project to consolidate the effects of increased agricultural productivity and marketing of food crops on the nutritional status, especially of women, children and vulnerable groups. The consortium will not address all aspects of nutrition but seek for complementarities with other water and health programs and focus on nutrition education only both in the rural areas and Wau Town.

The project will target CBOs such as Farmers Groups, Women Groups and beneficiary representative bodies for initiating and guiding community development processes. These organisations, as loose and weak as these may be, constitute the entry point to the communities and are a vehicle for mobilisation, awareness raising, and transmission of services.

In addition to improved food security, Farmers Groups and Women Groups are target CBOs under Result 4 with a view to increased local participation in consultative meetings with local governance structures. This is a first step in increasing the space for the target groups to engage with their leaders, claim their rights and influence certain issues (on food security, access to land etc.) at the local level that could feed upwards to the state/national policy. The presence and involvement of local authorities and other state structures from the inception stage onwards will ensure that where possible policy and practice is improved on the basis of successful practical experience. Regular consultative forums will also be instrumental in addressing matters coming up in the area of conflict and focus on confidence and peace building.

Activities under Result 1 (Staple Crop productions)

  • Groundwork with local stakeholders
  • Identification, selection and registration of beneficiary farmers.
  • Recruitment, orientation and training of a total of 3 additional extension workers
  • Explore options for storage methods and facilities for perishable produce
  • Assess cultural appropriateness and how best to improve animal-ploughing in the target area.
  • Group formation
  • Seeds & tools distribution:
  • Cassava multiplication
  • Farmer groups’ Training:
  • Land preparation and planting
  • Training in Animal traction

Activities under Result 2 (Diversification).

2.1. Establishment of Kitchen gardens.

2.2. Agreement with local leadership including women leaders (25% of FHH expected) on beneficiary

2.3. Criteria, selection methodology and mode of decision-making.

2.4. Selection and registration of beneficiaries for horticulture (focus on women): –

  1. 5. Procurement of horticulture inputs;
  2. 6. Distribution of tools.
  3. 7. Training is implemented in groups, at a demonstration site/plot,

2.8. Pre- and post-harvest assessments.

2.9. Poultry keeping Training (Year 1: 80 HH, Year 2: 80 HH)

2.10. Nutrition awareness and sensitization:

2.11. Saving scheme:

Activities under Result 3 (Marketing)

3.1. Inventory of activities and relative marketing strategies:

3.2. Formation and training of 5 market committees

3.3. Training in basic business & marketing skills (all farmer groups

3.4. Dissemination of market information:

3.5. Collaborate with SMoAF&I

Activities under Result 4 (Capacity building)

4.1. Capacity building of the CBOs:

4.2 Development and implementation of Capacity Building plan

4.3. Collaboration with Catholic University of Wau (Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences)

4.4. Capacity building of the Ministry of Agriculture