Seeds of Hope: Agriculture Production in Refugee Hosting Areas
The project in brief
The project started in May 2016 and a is yearly and short term (During planting season); however, both UNHCR and FAO Resources have been declining over the years foreclosing opportunities of scale up and optimum utilization of arable land for agriculture production. The project is ongoing with significant gap in resources in comparison to the immense needs of the affected population. The implication is that fewer households can be reached with support, and with resource limitations, the extent to which support can be scaled up for resilience is limited.
With predictable multi-year resources, the project scope can be replicated in other areas, expanded in coverage and scope broadened to include additional support that are market driven and value add in curbing post-harvest losses. This will include but not limited to access to financial services, technology and innovation for value addition, market support functions for value chain development, green energy and greening of competitive agriculture value chains.
VIDEO: Seeds of Hope
This project is a FAO-UNHCR joint collaboration and engagement with host communities to support agriculture production in refugee hosting areas during planting season in South Sudan.
The good practice embodies the principles of comprehensive responses through multiple stakeholder approaches in line with the Global Compact of Refugees. The intervention has brought together the host community, refugees, UNHCR, FAO, Livelihood partners, local authorities and line ministries. Recognizing that effective management of refugee response hinges on resilience of host communities, the intervention has already fostered an inclusive approach through productive agriculture work, generating value by involving refugees in host community local economies as well as providing support to the host community itself.
This has not only strengthened peaceful co-existence but has also contributed to inclusive local economic development.
- The goal of the project: food security, livelihood restoration and resilience of affected population (In refugee hosting areas) at risk of hunger and malnutrition.
- Overall objective: Emergency Livelihood Response for displacement affected population at risk of hunger and malnutrition in refugee hosting areas.
- Agriculture production supported through increased access to agriculture inputs.
- Increased food availability, access and positive coping strategies promoted through improved agriculture training for own food production.
South Sudan's Refugee Act 2012 makes provision for refugees’ freedom of movement; right to seek employment; access to land for purposes of cultivation and pasture for grazing animals.
Additionally, the presence of FAO was useful to enhance coordination of access to inputs for refugee hosting areas; the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) working group that conducts food security and nutrition monitoring, raising awareness of IPC as a tool to measure vulnerability to food insecurity and malnutrition in host community areas.
Refugees and host community capacities: Host community supported the provision of arable land to refugees and refugees with farming experience in their country of origin were able to undertake agriculture production. This enhanced peaceful co-existence between communities and contributed great dividends in sustaining access to cultivation land, as well as minimizing on and off tensions over access to natural resources.
- Commission for Refugee Affairs – Government of South Sudan [Engaging local authorities and host community for agriculture land access].
- Livelihood Partners in Refugee hosting areas of South Sudan.
- Ministry of Agriculture in counties - Even though capacity is limited, they worked together with livelihood partners to support agriculture training activities while receiving capacity development from FAO and livelihood partners.
Challenges and how they were overcome
- Logistical challenges especially due to poor road networks and connectivity in remote areas.
- Limited resources to ensure wider coverage hence the support was highly targeted as resources could only cover a limited number of farming households. The refugee hosting areas have a cereal deficit that could be better addressed if more households were involved in agriculture production to increase food availability.
- Lack of improved post-harvest infrastructure to curb post-harvest losses.
How they were overcome
- Strong coordination and engagement with relevant stakeholders – humanitarian and development partners from planning seed kit procurement up to post distribution monitoring of seed kits and documenting key lessons learned and best practices for subsequent implementation year.
- Leveraging resources between UNHCR and FAO including division of labour based on existing human resources in field locations to ensure timely pre-positioning of agriculture inputs ahead of planting season and distribution before heavy rains cut off road networks.
- Distribution of low-cost post-harvest materials however the need for improved post-harvest structures remains immense especially in refugee hosting areas where the cereal deficit remains high.
Results of the Good Practice
The host community has supported us with land for cultivation and now I am less stressed because I am able to cultivate vegetables for market and for my household to consume. Some of the vegetables like cucumbers and kales I learnt how to cultivate them from the farmer training provided. The South Sudanese Pounds I earn from selling vegetables I am able to buy meat which is not provided in the general food distribution. Previously I had nothing to do and now that I farm, my family is happy - Hassan
- Improved household access to cereals and diversified vegetables due to own agriculture production.
- Supported employment/access to income for households who previously had no access to income.
- Peaceful co-existence: Bonding and bridging social capital strengthened. This has contributed good dividends for pursuing agriculture and non-agriculture livelihood interventions including increased trading between refugees and hosting communities as well as market access to purchase and sell products
Overall the targeted households of the agriculture production support feel that they have better control over their lives with enhanced capacity to earn an income and pursue own livelihoods. The intervention has also created seasonal employment for casual labours who work in farms during the planting season supporting labour intensive crop cultivation and opening of agriculture land
- Continue targeted support to farmers.
- Resource mobilization to scale up market oriented sustainable agriculture production support for self-reliance and resilience including post-harvest management.
Lilian Otieno - Associate Livelihoods Officer - UNHCR
Paulina Prasula - Programme Implementation Specialist - FAO