The hungry are fed in South Sudan

The hungry are fed in South Sudan

There was a great celebration when the food trucks finally rolled into Mundri South Sudan in March - four months later than planned.

The task that Tearfund had set themselves was no mean feat. They needed to bring enough food by road to feed 1,500 hungry households. 

Story by Thorkild Jørgensen. Photos: Leonilo Endoso, Tearfund, and Thorkild Jørgensen, MAF.

Planning began in September 2017 for the November delivery date. Each household would receive 100 kg of maize flour, 6 litres of palm oil, and 14 kg of beans - enough to sustain them through the dry season.

September

There was lots to do to prepare for the delivery. Beneficiaries had to be chosen, and the Sudan Evangelical Mission (SEM) volunteers who would select the families, first needed to be trained. The priority was to reach the most vulnerable including those with disabilities.

The majority of households selected were living in an Internally Displaced Persons (IDP) camp beside the church in Kediba, east of Mundri - assessed as being some of the most vulnerable in three counties.

Getting 180 tonnes of basic food items to Mundri was an enormous challenge. South Sudan's unpaved road network is one of the worst in the world. Travel is only really possible during the dry season when there is less chance of the Lorries will get stuck on the muddy roads. But South Sudan's roads are also notorious for deadly ambushes by armed groups who target travellers.    

November

Around the time of the delivery, armed troop movements around Mundri meant the risk was too severe to let the trucks depart. The food distribution would have to be postponed until Tearfund wouldn’t be risking lives of lorry drivers on top of losing all of the food to soldiers and robbers. The beneficiaries had to muster enough patience to manage until the wet season had begun.

February

In late January the roads to Mundri from Uganda become more stable, and on 7 February Tearfund’s Johannes Pienar flew with MAF to Mundri to make a security assessment. Everything seemed okay, so a week later another MAF plane brought Leonilo Endoso and William Waru to Mundri where they spent the next three days conducting training and reviewing the beneficiaries with SEM’s staff and 12 Community Mobilizers and 12 Volunteers. Finally, after 4 months’ delay, the contractors could get on with the job! It would still take some weeks before the food would actually arrive in Mundri.

When Tearfund was notified that the lorries were on their way, Taban Gwakih, Tearfund’s Emergency Project Officer, flew with MAF to Mundri on 7 March to be on sight for the first distribution of food. During the next three days, lorry after lorry arrived, and local labourers offloaded sacks and containers piling them up on the grounds of the local church. The fences were patrolled until finally the thousands of people could enter and get what they had been waiting for for so long.

May

Two months later, on 9 May, all of the beneficiaries returned to get their second delivery of maize, oil, and beans. Under the weight of heavy sacks, smiles were seen on sweaty faces. 

MAF flies over 170 organisations in South Sudan.

Many are working to meet the needs of the Internally Displaced People and address the enormous humanitarian need.