World Food Day

Celebrating World Food Day: Fighting Famine in South Sudan

As the tall maize grows in her fenced-in yard in South Sudan, Rebecca prepares cornmeal while her elderly mother and four youngest children play alongside.  Thankful for this harvest and the food it provides her large family, she contemplates what the next few months might bring, especially in light of the major food crisis in her country.

Rebecca from South Sudan_WFD

Rebecca is a farmer, trained by World Relief’s agricultural experts in crop diversification and resource management.  Proudly pointing to her crops, she explains that because the rains had been good, she expects a better crop than last year.  But this came at a hard price.  In January, Rebecca had seven cows, but the fighting from the country’s civil war closed off the markets, and the food supply was low from last season’s drought.  She’d sold a cow to get bags of maize as starter seeds, but as the months of fighting went on, more was needed.  As a widow and sole breadwinner for her family of 9, she had to risk the 16-hour walk once a month to trade a cow for food to feed her family.  February, March, April, May, and June dragged by and before she knew it, she had only one cow left.  Rebecca hoped her harvest would come quickly.

“And then the raindrops started,” Rebecca said.  The rains that nourished the crops would guarantee a good late-summer harvest.  At the same time, World Relief distributed a corn and soy bean blend to the most vulnerable in the area and will continue this monthly for the rest of the year to avert the predicted famine.

This harvest and the food supplies should feed Rebecca’s family until January 2015.  In a continued effort to fight the food shortage, World Relief will also distribute vegetable seeds (groundnuts, eggplant, sesame, tomatoes), which will provide a nutritional supplement and be an income generator during the winter months.  But with ongoing fighting and what the UN describes as the ‘worst food crisis in the world’, significant challenges remain for Rebecca, her family and millions of others in South Sudan.  Even though Rebecca isn’t sure what the outcome will be, her faith gives her hope, “Everything is in God’s hands,” she says.

That’s why World Relief stands with the people of South Sudan as we celebrate World Food Day and continue to empower many to fight famine on the frontlines.

Celebrating World Food Day: Farmers in the Democratic Republic of Congo Fighting Hunger

Viviane

When fighting in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) reached Viviane’s village, she and her children were forced to flee from their home and into a camp with many other internally displaced people . The camp was crowded with others who also sought refuge from the ongoing violence. Unfortunately, without employment or reliable access to food, they all were at greater risk of suffering from food shortage and hunger.

When Viviane was finally able to return to her home, the extreme challenges of everyday living remained. “We came home with no seeds or farming tools and no money to buy these things,” Viviane said. Although she had the desire to provide for her family in a sustainable way, the violence and displacement left Viviane without the means to begin rebuilding her life.

“But God sent World Relief to help our [farmers’ group] by providing Irish potato seeds, vegetable seeds and farming tools,” said Viviane. In farmers’ groups in the DRC, World Relief equips farmers with tools to begin family farms and the necessary training to make their harvests successful. Farmers are trained in crop diversification, resource management and other ways to increase the productivity of their land.

Viviane’s yields have indeed grown as a result of the support she received when she returned home even though devastation from instability and armed conflict are still felt in large areas of eastern DRC. This year alone, she harvested over 1900 pounds of potatoes, more than four times more than last year! A portion of her earnings will go towards her children’s school fees and to buy other supplies for her family. Next year, Viviane plans to rent a larger plot of land so she can grow even more potatoes.

Because of Viviane’s agricultural skills, she and her family have been able to overcome many of the challenges related to hunger and malnutrition. Viviane has also planted a vegetable garden outside of her home that adds essential vitamins and nutrients to her family’s diet. “This is the first time my family is able to eat three meals a day,” Viviane said, “I praise God for this. May our Lord Jesus bless you all who have helped us during this time and for helping us find a solution for feeding our families.”

Throughout the month of October we’re celebrating World Food Day with farmers like Viviane who are empowered to lead their families out of poverty through agricultural training and development. In DRC, World Relief is empowering local churches and farmers to work together and earn a greater income from their crops. By participating in farmers groups, some of the DRC’s most vulnerable are empowered to sustainably support their families and local economies while laying the building blocks for peace in the midst of the destruction of conflict.