By Isaac Vuni
March 15, 2007(TORIT) — The state minister of agriculture, Francis Okeny Olaka say report presented on Annual Needs and Livelihoods Assessment by World Food Programme (WFP) unit of Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping (VAM) on Eastern Equatoria State was more technical than theoretical.
He said the current situation in southern Sudan particularly in Eastern Equatoria state requires more practical solutions than a scientific analysis that does no offer immediate solutions to vulnerable people in affected states.
Receiving reports on needs and Livelihood assessment prepared and presented today at Torit County hall, by Andrew Odero of World Food Programme (WFP) unit of Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping of southern Sudan,
The report stated that there are 183,400 vulnerable people in Eastern Equatoria state that would require 10,780 metric tons of food aid assistance during this 2007.
Most of the food will be distributed through recovery and development programmes to stimulate post conflict recovery and development in the state.
Majority of populations in the state are agro-pastoralists who constituted 70% and cultivate between one to five feddans per house hold while 71% said they owned livestock. The average household has about 9 family members because of high fertility compounded with extended families becomes a threat to food security during period of poor harvest or food shortages..
The returnees in Torit reported to have cultivated an average of four feddans per household with majority communities willing to engage in ox-ploughing mechanism in order to plant more land. And hence, NGOs and government have expressed desire to train farmers by next year for increase agricultural production.
The report emphasizes the need to strengthen adult education and community base training while food consumption by adults was placed at 1.8 times per day while children ate 2.3 times per day.
Regarding WFP relief food distribution, 73% said they have benefited from food aid while 27% say no. Similarly 71% received food aid during the past nine months while 29% did not.
Food for work has beneficiaries 9,269 people whereas school feeding programe benefited39, 788 pupils in the state.
Responding to questions why Magwi and Lafon counties were left out of needs assessment, Mrs. Constance Lewanika, Head of Sub office WFP, Eastern Equatoria State
Kapoeta said there were many allegations regarding insecurity in those areas, therefore, she would like to receive official written letter from Magwi and Lafon counties authorities to enable WFP provides the necessary support.
Meanwhile she promised to find out why seeds and tools have not been delivering as per their agreement of last November meeting where a collaborative report prepared by world food programme, food and agriculture organization and state ministry of agriculture of Eastern Equatoria state in Torit.
Then the priotization was based on collaborative planning in the shift from relief to development, Literacy and training, Accumulation of productive assets, Re-introduction of ox-ploughs, counterpart staff training in monitoring and assessment.
While the Negative factors was identified to be LRA attacks in central and western parts of the state, cattle rustling, returnees, poor accessibility, household structural limitations and constrains
The objective of the assessment was to find out needs of vulnerable populations, identify factors which affect food production and contribute to the understanding of the livelihood situation of returnees in the state during post conflict recovery phase, improvement of general wellbeing.
“If you want to help us do so, otherwise, do not undermine or don’t awake us from our sleeping” remarks Mr. Olaka
He went on saying; “We really need food and without food there will be consistence insecurity in the state”. In fact, lack of food has forced Ugandan rebels LRA to go looting food from our communities because LRA couldn’t eat their guns or bullets.
Mr. Olaka revealed that OCHA has reneged from its promised of four million American dollars meant for rapid recovery programme, targeting four ministries of; education, health, physical infrastructure and agriculture in Eastern Equatoria state and reduced it to two million dollars without giving any proper explanation.
Similarly, the Education Coordinator of Catholic Diocese of Torit, Mr. Claudio Opwonya said AVSI organization has reduced its approved budget for constructing six schools at cost of US$ 600,000 to four schools at US$ 400,000.
State Education minister, Francs Ben Ataba says Kapoeta counties have the lowest level of school children reenrolment in the state.
Appeals to WFP to continue supporting school feeding program in all state schools because previous records indicates that if there was no feeding in a particular school, most pastoralists children don’t report to school.
He advised WFP officers not to abandon school feeding programe because it has attracted many children especially from among pastoralist community.
The State Minister of health, Brigadier General Mark Lolimo requested WFP to support feeding programme for in-patients who are walking long distances to seek medical treatment at either Torit or Kapoeta Civil Hospitals.
He also says Training of nurses in those hospitals was demanding and vital. Mr. Lolimo wondered how WFP could get proper data if they do not involve state personnel for proper data collections.
The State Director of Agriculture Extension services, Mr. Ben Mamur Imwass, say WFP has since November 2006 been meeting with state authority but has not translated into action recommendations and resolutions derived from meeting – supply of seeds and agricultural tools to farmers to start post conflict crops production.
He revealed that state ministry of Agriculture had targeted to reach 100,000 households in state with each county having 10,000 households but Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reduced it to 80,000 households.
“The 200,000HH survey was proposed to be handles by state ministry of agriculture’s various projects for improvement of food production through specialized seed bulking including seed distribution to contract frames and contact farmers but sponsorship was turned down by WFP and FAO, instate they prefers their own way”, he remarks.
Participants observed that a join planning by state authority and WFP officials was essential for achievement of food security in the state for the coming two to three years.