SEATTLE, Washington — The U.N. recently reported that its Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) recently produced positive results in education for South Sudanese women on farming techniques. This education is crucial to achieving long-term sustainability for the country and lifting nearly 50 percent of its population out of poverty.
The effort by the FAO is similar to other programs being orchestrated in South Sudan by agencies like the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). These programs aim to assist women in attaining greater social recognition and promote sustainable development through equality.
USAID has spent about $26 million per year in South Sudan since the country won its independence in 2011. The funding is earmarked for the agency’s Feed the Future Initiative, the U.S.-sponsored program pursuing income equality in rural South Sudan to combat extreme poverty and expand the agriculture industry.
South Sudan gained independence from its northern neighbor in 2011, after decades of bloody conflict and negotiation attempts, according to the BBC. These conflicts are rooted in disputes over borders, the distribution of oil revenue and ethnic and religious differences.
Violence is still common, damaging the country’s stability even after a fragile peace agreement was established with Sudan four years ago. Outgoing U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said the situation was dangerously descending toward devastating, violent calamity once again. According to the U.N. humanitarian chief, millions are already displaced and require immediate assistance as a result of the violence.
The FAO project seeks to educate South Sudanese women to stem the growth of instability, poverty and violence. More than 600 so-called “schools without walls” have been established to teach South Sudanese women effective farming techniques which increase output and ensure sustainability.
South Sudan’s FAO gender affairs officer Rose Adede told U.N. Radio that the program had resulted in women being able to feed themselves and their families effectively and productively. This allows women to send their children to school, and their upward mobility from being productive has been shown to curb other problems like domestic violence.
Similarly, a USAID analysis of programs related to its Feed the Future Initiative showed a dramatic and positive cost-benefit outcome, increasing both economic yield and sustainability. USAID, like the FAO, maintains that despite the country’s dismal economy and pervasive poverty, there is still much hope.
USAID notes, in an assessment on the state of South Sudan published in November, that there is enormous potential lying in completely unused agricultural land. Revitalizing the agricultural sector and ensuring the inclusion of women in the country’s economy will be crucial steps on the path to long-term development.
– James Collins