South Sudanese refugees regain livelihoods in the Democratic Republic of the Congo
Nearly 8 million people need humanitarian assistance and protection in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). With some 3.7 million internally displaced people (IDPs), DRC has the largest number of IDPs in Africa. The country currently hosts half a million refugees.*
Supporting refugees and host communities
Since 2016, empowering refugees and reinforcing the resilience of host communities has been at the core of FAO’s strategic interventions. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported that 74 148 South Sudanese refugees are registered in the provinces of Ituri and Haut-Uélé. It is here where FAO, with the support of the United Nations Central Emergency Response Fund (CERF), is strengthening the livelihoods of 2 000 South Sudanese refugee households and 1 000 host households- about 15 000 people in total.
The tools to feed themselves
With the goal of empowering South Sudanese refugees, FAO has emphasized income-generating and agricultural activities and has distributed 7 000 plowing tools (hoes, rakes, watering cans, wheelbarrows and sprayers) and 80 kg of vegetable seeds (amaranth, cabbage, tomato, okra and eggplant). FAO provided 545 refugee households with goats to increase access to animal proteins.
Kaime Djeti is a 38 year-old, South Sudanese refugee and female head of household who is now living with her eight kids in Doruma. Describing her daily life before the project, she says: “I arrived in the DRC about two years ago. I was only surviving thanks to the help of local community members who often gave me rice, beans, cassava and cassava leaves. This project really helped me because I learned how to grow vegetables.”
Kaime’s household also received a goat from FAO. “Thanks to the support from FAO, I was able to restart my goat breeding activities,” she states.
In addition, in order to promote harmony in host communities and facilitate access to land, 1 000 host families received 1 000 hoes and 15 tonnes of quality bean, groundnut and maize seeds, along with guidance on good agricultural practices and technical support to develop plant beds. FAO also provided training on nutrition and healthy living for the refugees and members of the host community.
The project utilized cash transfers to facilitate access to goods and improve livelihoods. Through the direct distribution of money and vouchers (in exchange for goods and services), the beneficiaries were able to invest in schooling for their children, healthcare and financing for small business ventures.
“The money that I received allowed me to buy shoes and food for my children. I was also able to start a small soap and sugar business,” explains Kaime.
The goal is to allow South Sudanese refugees to become self-reliant by the next crop season, which started in mid-July 2017. Kaime is slowly beginning to see a brighter future for herself:
“If all goes well, I hope to become a producer of amaranth, tomatoes and eggplants. Thanks to my vegetable sales, I could even perhaps start a rice and cassava flour trade.”
Providing cash (pay-for-work programmes and conditional cash transfers) to rural peoples and refugees allows them to respond to their immediate needs (food and water etc.) while waiting for their harvests. It further allows them to diversify their livelihoods and develop alternative, income-generating activities.
By strengthening livelihoods, FAO is empowering refugees and host communities to provide for themselves.