Food security is UMCOR priority in Sudan
July 18, 2005
|A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey/UMCOR
Women in South Darfur receive non-food items from the United Methodist Committee on Relief.
By Linda Bloom*
NEW YORK (UMNS) - Concentrating on food security, the United Methodist
Committee on Relief is assisting both displaced people and local
communities in the Sudan.
In April, UMCOR directors approved a start-up budget of more than $1
million for the work in Sudan. The focus is on the distribution of
non-food items, agriculture work and promoting small-scale farming in
The agency also is helping manage the El Ferdous IDP (internally
displaced persons) camp, according to Jane Ohuma, UMCOR's head of
mission in Sudan.
The objective of the food security project is to provide the displaced
people with additional sources of food and cash income. Many of the
displaced are subsistence farmers, Ohuma said, who are no longer able to
grow their own food and raise money from their farms.
Although the World Food Program provides monthly food rations, "the
amount is not enough to meet all their basic requirements (for items)
such as soap, fees for their children's education and clothing," Ohuma
Some displaced persons are paid for work on the farms of local
residents, while others share crops with landowners. Some rent empty
land, paying with part of the final harvest. "It is a mixture of many
strategies," she said.
For host communities, UMCOR wants to stabilize local economies that have
been burdened by the influx of internally displaced persons and restore
livelihoods from agriculture. "The situation has been compounded by the
cyclical drought conditions over the past two seasons," Ohuma added.
A major contributor to the agriculture project is Ginghamsburg United
Methodist Church in Tipp City, Ohio. The congregation made a $311,448
grant to UMCOR.
Seeds and tools were purchased by UMCOR from local distributors and
blacksmiths in early May and distributed in May and June. Distribution
centers were in areas that were "considered to be highly productive in
peanutS and cereals" and more stable in terms of security.
|A UMNS photo by Paul Jeffrey/UMCOR
United Methodist Committee on Relief is providing seeds and agricultural tools to displaced families in Sudan.
A total of 3,624 displaced families and 1,584 local (host) families at
El Ferdous, Abu Matariq, Abu Jabra, Kediek and Ryiadth benefited from
the seed and tools distribution.
UMCOR also has constructed a reception center in El Ferdous IDP camp -
south of Nyala, the regional capital of South Darfur - and is assuming
overall management of camp activities, Ohuma said. "We are also putting
up a proposal for the management of five other camps, although a
specific donor is yet to be identified."
Action by Churches Together, of which UMCOR is a member, has a joint
humanitarian response in the Darfur province with Caritas, a
confederation of Catholic relief and social service agencies.
ACT/Caritas is raising funds to provide shelter, water, sanitation and
basic sleeping and kitchen materials to 325,000 people in southern
Darfur. They have been displaced into camps, live near their burned-out
villages or act as host communities. The program also will provide
education for school children and supplementary food to 15,000 children
under age 5.
Paul Jeffrey, a United Methodist missionary who visited Darfur recently
to take photographs for the relief groups, noted that while developments
in the peace talks are hopeful, the struggle over scarce resources and
justice and security issues is not over.
"While the government has begun to encourage people to leave the camps
and return home, in most cases that's not possible simply because their
security can't be guaranteed," he said. Women also face the threat of
rape if they venture outside the camps.
The presence of African Union troops in a few places like Labado has
allowed some families to return to their villages, where aid
organizations can help them begin to rebuild their lives. But that
presence is limited, he pointed out.
"I was impressed while there by the commitment of the agencies -
including UMCOR - that make up the ACT/Caritas program to respond
quickly and appropriately to the needs of the displaced," Jeffrey told
United Methodist News Service.
The Rev. R. Randy Day, chief executive of the United Methodist Board of
Global Ministries, and the Rev. Paul Dirdak, UMCOR's top executive,
issued a joint statement expressing "cautious optimism" about the news
in early July that ground rules have been announced to resolve the
conflict in Darfur.
"We are grateful to the African Union for its persistence in working
toward a political solution in the face of formidable challenges," the
Donations for "Sudan Emergency," Advance No. 184385, can be dropped in
church collection plates or mailed directly to UMCOR, P.O. Box 9068, New
York, NY 10087-9068. To make a credit-card donation, call (800)
*Bloom is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in New York.
News media contact: Linda Bloom, New York, (646) 369-3759 or email@example.com.
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