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Cash for food for IDPs

Authorities in Yirol East and West Counties of South Sudan’s Lakes state have hailed the Norwegian Peoples Aid (NPA) for piloting cash-for-food project for internally displaced people (IDPs) and vulnerable local residents, in the two counties.  

Hundreds and thousands of IDPs from Jonglei and Unity states sought shelter in Lakes state following displacement from their areas of origin.

Living mostly with host families, the IDPs rely majorly on aid agencies for their food needs.  

To address food needs of the IDPs, NPA piloted a cash-for-food programme for IDPs and vulnerable members of the host communities. The five months project, which extended from February to June this year, distributed 150 South Sudanese Pounds per month to 12,000 beneficiaries, according to Mr. Tombe Ronald, NPA’s senior project officer.

He said the project aimed at reducing food insecurity through increased household access to food.

“The idea of the cash-for-food initiative was adopted as a quicker alternative of responding to the food needs of the target beneficiaries, owing to huge logistical and other challenges  associated with the distribution of food aid,”  Mr. Tombe explained.   

The IDPs said the support was a big relief, though they voiced for an increase in the amount of cash.

“The price of commodities in the market has risen, compared to the value of the cash. But what we received still helped us a lot,” said Achout Chep.  

 “If there is cash-for-food, our burden is made easier,” said the Nuer elder from Unity state.

To speed access to market, NPA worked in partnership with local traders, who brought commodities to sell in the IDP’s villages, during the cash disbursements.

The project, funded by the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA), was widely supported by the target beneficiaries and local authorities. It ended in June, leaving many, calling for its continuation.

The IDPs are weary of the burden of displacement. The impact of food insecurity is visible.  Once bustling with displaced people, Adior Payam, in Yirol East County, now looks lonely, with fewer people seen around.

“There are many IDPs living here, but most of them have gone to look for food elsewhere,” said Mr. Yayi Abouk, the executive chief of the area Mr. Yayi said, adding that the IDPs and host community are both suffering from hunger.

“We fear this may result in conflicts because of the limited resources,” he stressed.  

The problems of the displaced people are many but the major ones are food and shelter, said Mr. Gabriel Deng Majok, the Relief and Rehabilitation Commission (RRC) county coordinator for Yirol East County.

 “We are appealing for the cash-voucher support to continue,” Mr. Majok said, adding that the system gave beneficiaries choice on how to spend the money for the welfare of their families.

The commissioner of Yirol East County Mr. Manyang Luk, called upon more aid agencies to set up assistance to the displaced:

“Intervention is poor in addressing several needs of the displaced people,” he said, adding that the county authority has informed aid agencies about the challenges.  

NPA responded to the needs of the IDP’s in 2014. The organization started working in South Sudan in 1986, when it responded to the needs of the people, who were then, in need of humanitarian aid.

05.10.2015 | Tamama Norbert Mansfield
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