DRC responds to the alarming food security crisis among Sudanese refugees in Ajoung Thok, South Sudan.

A new baseline survey from DRC shows that 70% of the Sudanese refugees in Ajoung Thok camp in South Sudan have no source of income and that the level of their daily dietary diversity is so low that particularly children may face critical health consequences. Adding to this critical situation, the World Food Programme have flagged that food rations will be reduced by 30% from August due to lack of funding. Danish Refugee Council is on the ground to address the food security, nutrition and livelihoods challenges arising in Ajoung Thok.


From South Sudan

Photos and story by Daniel Cabello, DRC South Sudan

A food security baseline survey conducted by DRC has shed light on the extremely low levels of dietary diversity among both refugees and host community members in Ajoung Thok, South Sudan. According to the assessment, weekly diets are largely based on sorghum (80% of refugees eat this staple crop daily), oil and occasionally beans or lentils. Almost no one reported ever being able to eat fruit or vegetables. A lack of dietary diversity can lead to a variety of health complications, especially for children.

Moreover, 70% of the refugees and 40% of host community members reported no source of income, with the refugees relaying mostly on exchanging part of their food rations for other items. Despite the fact that food rations appear to be the main source of food for most of the interviewed, World Food Programme will reduce the food rations with 30% starting from August. 

DRC is addressing this alarming food security situation by building capacity, harnessing local knowledge and strengthening self-reliance among the refugees and the host community. On June 2nd, DRC began the roll-out of its DANIDA-funded kitchen gardening project. 350 women are currently being trained in gardening and a farming club has been established by the Youth Council in Ajuong Thok camp. DRC aims at improving both food security and livelihoods opportunities for the most vulnerable by reminding them about the importance of vegetables for nutrition and sharing small-scale farming tips, as well as practically demonstrating how to set-up seed nursery beds.

Five demonstration plots were established in strategic locations of the camp and the Jamjang host community, in which 14 groups (25 women each), as well as the youth farming club, were trained. All beneficiaries were provided with a package of tomato, onion, okra, kudra and kale seeds as well as a watering can. Large laminated cards that shared advice through pictures on the making and best use of home-made pesticides and on soil health and care were provided to representatives. Taking into account the family size of each household receiving the support, a total of over 2,300 individuals are benefiting from the project.

While this first round of trainings focused on the importance of a kitchen garden and the establishment of nursery beds, the subsequent training cycle will focus on thinning and their transplanting. Finally, the third training cycle will be dedicated to weed and pest control, utilization of vegetables, seed extraction and preservation.

DRC’s kitchen gardening project aims at addressing the nutritional, food security and livelihoods issues faced by refugees by offering an opportunity for self-reliance. With the rainy season at the door, DRC and its kitchen gardening beneficiaries are betting not only on the goodness of Ajuong Thok’s soil, but also on building upon the farming traditions of the Nuba Mountains and the resilience of its people.