Supporting Border Communities through Agriculture

 Farmers cultivating Sorghum- Juda - White Nile State. Photos credits: Mutwakil Omran- UNDP

Along the border of Sudan and South Sudan lays a community contending with poverty, called Juda.  Juda is located in Jabaleen locality, White Nile State. To the south, Juda borders Upper Nile state in South Sudan, with Renk being 5 KM away.

Prior to the secession of the South, Juda and its neighboring communities witnessed peaceful co-existence. However, the growing crisis in South Sudan has forced thousands of people to flee from the conflict and to resort to this area. This in turn exerted huge pressure on Juda’s socio-economic infrastructure.

Therefore, UNDP along with Sudan Disarmament Demobilization Commission (SDDRC) and in coordination with the State Government of White Nile identified Juda as a priority for community security and small arms control interventions and hence established a Community Security and Arm Control (CSAC) project in it.

An agricultural initiative

 Farmers engaged in a live extension services session in the field - Juda - White Nile State

Following extensive discussions with various representatives of Juda including women, an agricultural intervention was introduced to address risks associated with this situation.

Community members identified 88 beneficiaries comprising of women, ex-combatants, unemployed youth and other vulnerable civilians to be part of the project. Initially, the project plans to cultivate a total area of 264 acres, three acres per person.  Juda farmers are accustomed to traditional farming methods and are not exposed to new technologies.

To help support the  newly introduced irrigation project, community members were provided with eight sets of water pumps and generators to draw the water from the nearby river. A tractor was also provided to till the land to be used by the entire community. These assets would generate additional remuneration for the community as a whole. The idea was to generate additional resources for the community to maintain community infrastructure such as clinics and schools in order to cope better with additional pressure of refugee influx.

The project was conceived in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture and the NGO called JASMAR. The area of Juda is characterized by two seasons. The season from July - December is rain-fed during which the primary crop happens to be sorghum and is currently being planted, since it’s a highly consumed commercial crop. During the second season which from January -July the area adapts to irrigated agriculture, if water is available, and vegetables are planted during the season.

 Woman participating in literacy class

Officers from the Ministry of Agriculture along with JASMAR started providing extensions services and training on agricultural technologies to the community members which included improvised cultivation skills and improved seeds.

Mohamed Eltom, a farmer in Juda remarks “Now we get to know the difference between using traditional methods of farming versus the use of new techniques. This season the sorghum crops look different, and productivity is expected to rise”. This was reiterated by the extension officer, Mujataba Awadallah, who explains “In the past Juda used to harvest 5-6 sacks per acre, now due to the new applied technology 9 to 10 sacks are expected per acre”. This will not only yield and productivity, but also provide leverage for effective market access as volumes increase.

To safeguard the uniqueness of Juda’s peaceful coexistence, the project rolled out other activities such as peace building and conflict resolution trainings, literacy classes for more than 80 women, civic education classes, in addition to small arms awareness activities. The project is managed and monitored by a CSAC committee thus ensuring community’s ownership and responsibility for sustaining the project.  The project merely supports the solemn resolve of the people at Juda to peacefully co-exist with their neighbors from South Sudan while providing alternatives for their own youth to shun violence and strive for development .