Editorial 9th April 2018


Michael Makuei Lueth told the nation that if the third phase of the peace talk failed, this time around election could be the only possibility of restoring peace. In politics anything is possible, but it should be aimed at peaceful co-existence and inclusivity of all in the process. There is need for those involved in the talks to take into account the plight of the general public and sober up to the fact that peace was paramount and could not be an issue of compromise. There has been a stand-off between the warring parties at the talks in Addis Ababa that it is becoming obvious that some people in the talks do not want peace to come to this country by all possible means. They have been coming up with demands after demands without putting into consideration that this country is more important than an individual. Majority would agree with Makuei that if election will be the means to restore peace within a short period of time, then let it be. The National Dialogue which has been welcomed and seen as the only alternative for peace, is also facing some resistance from the same warring parties whose interests are vested elsewhere. The country should not continue to be held at ransom by few individuals whose interests are to serve their external masters. Reasons and sanities should guide the talks and there should be the start of peace restoration throughout the country. People expected this to have happened during the second phase of the talks when hopes were so high until a day to the last day when a group of the opposition came up with some impossible demands which had not been included earlier in the agenda for the talks. If phase three is to succeed all parties must go back with a properly designed agenda for the talks aimed at bringing peace.

Turning seeds into schooling in South Sudan

Harvesting amaranthus seeds for dinner and to sell them for money later that day

Plan International UK.

“We have so many different vegetables we can all eat, but we are also selling them,” Agum told me. “From the money, I have been able to send my two boys to school.” Agum’s story is one I heard over and over again on my most recent trip to South Sudan, and it’s such a welcome one.

In a country that has been at civil war since 2013, and that scored highest in the Fragile States Index last year, signs that there might be a better future for the next generation are truly inspiring – especially given the conditions facing families like Agum’s just a year ago.

“Last year we only ate once a day and we never ate any vegetables, only wild berries and leaves from the forest,” she said. “Now we eat twice a day, and I am keeping our extra seeds for next planting season.”

Now we never need to go to the market to buy vegetables again. And we even have enough to sell, so we can buy clothes and medicine!

Plan International has been providing seeds and tools to communities like Agum’s in South Sudan, as well as training on farming practices, nutrition and seed multiplication.

We’ve also been providing essentials, including soap and mosquito nets, to help families practice good hygiene and stay safe from diseases.

It’s amazing to see how big the impact has been, and how much wider than anyone expected.

In one community, villagers have managed to use four sacks of green gram to feed their families, while also collecting 12 sacks of seeds, alongside nine sacks of sorghum, for the next planting season.

As well as seeing their nutrition improve, they’ve also been able to buy household items and share additional seeds with their neighbours and family members – who have in turn started to plant the land surrounding the plots, sharing the water points and tools.

In South Sudan, we’ve been working with communities to provide seeds and tools, as well as training on farming practices, nutrition and seed multiplication. One of the chickens I was offered as a thank you for all of Plan International’s support.

A community member holds the seeds we’ve been providing through our work in South Sudan. Green gram seeds, which have been multiplied from the original seeds we provided last June.

With the money I send my children to school and buy medicine and clothes. It’s nice to socialise with the other women in the gardens. I have also learnt to multiply for next season.

While these stories are incredibly encouraging, and families are undoubtedly eating better than they were before, it is only because they are showing remarkable resilience in conditions of long-term food insecurity, the pressures of which are unbearable to imagine.

They are also full of the most wonderful generosity.

The people I met are so happy to have Plan’s support that I was twice offered live chickens as a gesture of thanks – despite the fact meat is a luxury they will probably only eat once a month, if that.

It left me feeling hugely humbled but also with a spark of optimism for what lies ahead as, despite the immense challenges, these communities continue to grow their livelihoods and invest in the next generation, and their future.



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