UN agricultural agency appeals for more funds for a peaceful southern Sudan
With just 17 per cent of the funds needed having come in for agricultural rehabilitation in post-civil war southern Sudan, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today appealed for more than $50 million to help smooth the transition to sustainable peace in the region as hundreds of thousands of refugees return home.
“An estimated 580,000 returnees are expected after the rainy season,” said Erminio Sacco, FAO’s Emergency Coordinator for southern Sudan.
“Most will be returning with nothing to communities that are already extremely poor. If we overburden these communities, we risk creating further conflict. So we are very carefully targeting the most vulnerable people, whether residents or returnees. Increasing the capacity of communities to absorb new returnees will also be a key activity of the FAO interventions.”
With the potential flow of returnees also threatening conflict over land tenure, FAO is implementing $1.7 million worth of land tenure projects, funded by the Netherlands, Canada, Sweden and the United States, to help secure land rights, resolve property disputes and negotiate consensual land management.
“Most areas don’t have formal mechanisms for allocating land,” said Mr. Sacco. “There’s no legislation or land titling. So FAO is working with local authorities to explore how customary rights and community land allocation mechanisms can be formalized to strengthen the capacity of local authorities to handle the influx of returnees and their needs for access to different types of land.”
Since 1983, the conflict in southern Sudan is estimated to have killed at least 2 million people, uprooted 4 million more and forced about 600,000 to flee to neighbouring countries. The Government of Sudan and the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement (SLM) signed their Comprehensive Peace Accord in January.
Conflict, population displacements and inadequate rainfall have left the people facing food shortages in several other parts of the country, FAO said. It has mobilized around $5 million for emergency provision of seeds throughout the country for the main 2005 planting season, which ranges from May to October, depending on the region.
Hand tools and over 6,000 tons of food crop seeds are being distributed in several areas, along with veterinary medicines, supplies for livestock protection campaigns and small-scale fishing inputs, it said.
FAO said it is also carrying out rehabilitation by training young farmers, restoring much-needed agricultural services and supporting community efforts to obtain and rear livestock.