Building resilience in South Sudan: a female farmer’s success story

Published: 10 April 2014 10:22 CET

Pamela Riley, Canadian Red Cross Society

Judita Naboi, 38, is married with seven children, and a few months ago, she was named the best farmer in Eastern Equatoria State in South Sudan, the prize for which was an extremely valuable ox plough. “For many nights after winning the ox-plough, I would get up to touch it to be sure it was real,” said an exuberant Judita. “I could not believe my dream had come true after a long struggle. My husband has a lot of health problems and I have to do the cultivation on my own with help from my children.”

Judita is part of the South Sudan Red Cross ‘Building Resilience Project’, funded by the Canadian Red Cross, through which she has been trained in vegetable growing and preservation, organic fertilizers and pesticides, nutrition and food preparation.

She took keen interest in learning how to build energy saving stoves, which is one of the diversified agricultural practices for environmental conservation. The stoves are made from clay and are built on the ground or kitchen floor. They use less firewood as compared to conventional stoves. “I can prepare three meals at the same time on this stove. This means it takes a shorter time to cook than it did before. I can now spend more time in my garden to grow food for my family ,” said Judita.

After building her own energy saving stove, she has since taken the lead in helping many of her neighbours build their own stoves. It is this initiative which earned her the title of best farmer.

Judita has plans for the future. She has already organized five women to build portable energy stoves for sale in three towns in Eastern Equatoria State. Now that she has an ox-plough, she will involve her family members in opening up a bigger farming area. She will also hire out the oxen and plough in the next planting season to earn additional income and cover maintenance costs.

She is an excellent example to other farmers that hard work does pay off, with her win motivating other women to get involved in project activities to help change their lives. “I am very happy with the South Sudan Red Cross for giving me knowledge and I wish them a long life in Budi county because this is the first thing of its kind that has ever happened here. I am getting a lot of appreciation from people for winning, especially from women who ask me how I won the prize,” said Judita.

The second annual Eastern Equatoria State Agriculture Show, whose theme was Diversity in farming is the key for sustainable agriculture and economic growth, enabled farmers to share experiences and learn new technologies from their peers, as well as from the government and the private sector.  The Budi county took first place this year,  an improvement from last year when they finished third. The South Sudan Red Cross is one of two organizations operating  in the county.

The Building Resilience Project is undertaken with the financial support of the Government of Canada provided through the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development (DFATD).

Despite the on-going crisis in South Sudan, the situation in Eastern Equatoria State is stable and the Building Resilience Project is continuing as normal.