FAO Initiative Empowers South Sudanese Pastoralists with Climate-Resilient Livestock Farming.

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Livestock serves as a vital source of livelihood for South Sudanese pastoralists like Michael Lokuru Kuri, yet their way of life faces threats from conflicts over scarce resources and the adverse impacts of climate change.

Having endured raids that significantly depleted his cattle stock, 34-year-old Lokuru from Nakoringomo village in Kapoeta South County, Eastern Equatoria State, recounted the challenges amid strained relations with neighboring communities, exacerbated by prolonged dry spells forcing him to take his livestock far from home for grazing.

South Sudan, ranked among the world’s five most climate-vulnerable countries, grapples with extreme climate conditions, including devastating floods and severe droughts. The recent droughts, considered the driest in 43 years, have led to water shortages, crop failures, and widespread food insecurity affecting nearly two-thirds of the population.

To address these challenges, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), in collaboration with the African Development Bank (AfDB) and the Government of South Sudan, initiated efforts to alleviate water scarcity. By excavating a 30,000 m3 reservoir and installing a solar-powered water pump, pastoralists like Lokuru no longer need to travel for water, enhancing their resilience against climate-induced conflicts.

However, Lokuru’s farmland bears the brunt of climate change, evident in cracked soil and failed crops due to extreme weather conditions. Sorghum, known for its resilience, succumbed to the scorching sun, leaving Lokuru’s fields barren.

Acknowledging the significance of livestock in sustaining livelihoods, Lokuru, trained as a community animal health worker by FAO, now administers vaccines, identifies diseases, and provides treatments to support animal health in his community. His training empowers him to contribute significantly to animal health and food security, a role he aspires to pass on to younger pastoralists.

Quinto Asaye Alex, the Inspector for Veterinary Services, highlighted the vaccination project’s positive impact on safeguarding agropastoral communities’ livelihoods in Kapoeta.

Implemented under the Build Resilience for Food and Nutrition Security in the Horn of Africa (BREFONS) program, spearheaded by FAO on behalf of the African Development Bank and the Government of South Sudan, the initiative aims to enhance community resilience in confronting climate change.

Meshack Malo, FAO Representative in South Sudan, underscored the country’s food insecurity challenges, exacerbated by low production levels and the ongoing conflict. FAO’s interventions in South Sudan focus on enhancing agricultural resilience, benefiting nearly 400,000 households in Kapoeta through water harvesting and livestock support.

FAO’s comprehensive approach includes providing emergency and development assistance, reaching 4.3 million people in South Sudan through seed distribution, livestock support, and cash and voucher assistance in 2022. These efforts aim to bolster resilience in agriculture-based livelihoods amidst multifaceted challenges posed by climate change and conflict.

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