Sudan: Returnees Anticipate Bountiful Harvest
LWF Sudan Program Assists Families with Seeds and Tools
Martina Ikanga lives in Momoria village, about eight kilometers from the project site of the LWF Department for World Service (DWS) country program in Ikotos county, Southern Sudan. She is among thousands of refugees who decided to return to their original homes after the 2005 signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement between the Sudan Government and the Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army. Ikanga spent 19 years in a refugee camp in Adjumani district, northern Uganda.
At home, she takes care of her family comprising seven members including five grandchildren, left behind by her late daughter. The 53 year-old was identified as one of the 4,000 household representatives benefiting from the Australian Lutheran World Service (ALWS)-funded project providing seeds and agricultural hand tools.
During a recent visit with the family, and asked about the LWF-donated seeds, Ikanga responded with extreme happiness pointing at the gardens planted with sorghum, cowpeas and groundnuts. She mentioned that when the first rains came in April, the family had neither adequate food, nor did they imagine they would have seeds for planting.
Life as returnees was also very difficult - the conditions at the refugee camp were far better compared to life in the village. Ikanga narrated how she found new hope and optimism when she unexpectedly received the seeds from LWF/DWS Sudan office toward the end of June 2008. The seeds were planted in late July through early August and the performance of the crops she is preparing to start harvesting makes her confident that she will soon have enough food for her household. The cowpeas, a fast growing vegetable, did very well and rescued her family from famine which hit her village during the cultivation period.
She plans to preserve some seeds from whatever she will harvest for the next planting season.
Naboi: Answer to Prayers
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees-organized repatriation program carried out in April 2008 from Bweyale camp, northern Uganda, included Naboi Sabina and her family - husband, six children and two dependents. Like many other Southern Sudan families, Naboi fled her village in 1992 to take refuge in Uganda. After 16 years in exile, the family decided to resettle in Lotome village in Ikotos.
They envisaged a different lifestyle as returnees after closing the chapters of hardships in refugee camps but they encountered new challenges. Most of the relatives and friends whom Sabina counted on for assistance with planting seeds did not even have enough for themselves. And if they could have accessed the seeds from elsewhere, the months of May and June were unusually dry for planting.
According to Sabina, her prayers bore fruits when God sent LWF/DWS Sudan staff to Lotome village at the beginning of July. Every returnee household in the village, including Sabina's was provided with five kilograms each of maize and groundnut seeds, two kilograms each of sorghum and cowpeas, and a kilogram of sesame.
Sabina planted all the seeds she received and she is extremely happy with the crops' progress. But she is worried about the excessive rainfall. She says too much rain is not good for sorghum especially at flowering stage, similarly for groundnuts when they are ready for harvest. In addition, there are many monkeys in the area, which can also be a menace to food crops.
Sabina's family first relied on the cowpeas because they grow very fast and the vegetables are more palatable when tender. Looking back, she says she does not know what she would have done to sustain her family without the seeds provided by LWF/ALWS. Hoping that nature wouldn't turn her face against the villagers by extending the inconvenient rains, Sabina was confident that she would harvest most of the crops in the field by the end of November.
"Thanks to the response to my prayers through ALWS and LWF," Sabina concluded, "I don't think I'll have to worry about feeding ten mouths including myself until the next planting season."
ALWS, a partner organization of LWF/DWS, serves as the relief and development arm of the Lutheran Church of Australia.
The current DWS Sudan office was re-established in October 2007, with the objective to facilitate the smooth reintegration of returnees to their home areas. Work with community members includes rehabilitation and reconstruction, building up sustainable livelihoods, fostering peace and reconciliation, gender issues, sustaining the environment, HIV and AIDS, and community capacity building.
Andrew Odong, DWS/South Sudan Ikotos project manager