Skip To Content

South Sudan: saving lives and a pesky weed problem

Flying over swamps and green vegetation last week, I took my first visit to Malualkon, Aweil East County in Northern Bahr el Ghazal state — home to the Dinka Malual tribe.

The Dinka Malual men farm, fish, and herd cattle, while the women gather wild fruits, greens, cut grass and thatch tukuls (traditional huts).

Meeting Tereza

I visited Tereza in her home, she was busy preparing lunch for her children.

But just a few years ago Tereza’s life was very different. She had to depend on back-breaking work – sometimes without pay – just to put something on the table.

Cash transfer beneficiary Tereza Ayak with her four children: Mary Aweng, three; Sarah Atong, 11-months-old; James Anei, seven; and Abraham Kon, five.

A change of fortune

Tereza’s life changed when she was selected by her community for Save the Children’s cash transfer project.

“I have been part of the cash transfer project for two years now, and it is helping me. When my children are sick I can now take them to the clinic,” Tereza said.

“Since the project started, I have bought two goats and four chickens. I have managed to cultivate the land around the house as well.”

Money in the morning

When I met Tereza, her baby daughter Sarah had been suffering from malaria for the last two days.

Despite this, Tereza was not worried because she knew she would receive cash from Save the Children the following morning so she could take her daughter to a doctor.

The following day hundreds of people were lining up at the Warawar distribution site to receive their financial support from Save the Children.

Cash-for-work and cash transfer beneficiaries wait in line to receive their monthly 80 SSP from Save the Children at the Warawar distribution site.
Cash-for-work and cash transfer beneficiaries wait in line to receive their monthly 80 SSP from Save the Children at the Warawar distribution site.
Tereza walks straight to the market after receiving her monthly 80 SSP from Save the Children.
Tereza walks straight to the market after receiving her monthly 80 SSP from Save the Children.

After Tereza presented her identification card and placed her thumbprint on the register, she immediately walked to the clinic with her daughter to see a doctor, where she spent 23 SSP (£5.30 GBP) for Sarah’s medicines.

Cash for work and Cash transfer beneficiary Tereza Ayak receives her monthly 80 SSP from Save the Children at the Warawar distribution site.
Cash for work and Cash transfer beneficiary Tereza Ayak receives her monthly 80 SSP from Save the Children at the Warawar distribution site.
Tereza brings her 11-month-old daughter to see Dr. Bol Apin Bol at the health clinic. Sarah has been suffering from malaria for two days while her mother waited for her distribution money.
Tereza brings her 11-month-old daughter to see Dr. Bol Apin Bol at the health clinic. Sarah has been suffering from malaria for two days while her mother waited for her distribution money.

Off to market

At Warawar market Tereza bought a small tin of sorghum for 20 South Sudanese Pounds (the new South Sudan currency, SSP) or £4.65; meat for 10 SSP or £2.32; sugar for 2 SSP or 46p; salt for 1 SSP or 23p; and oil for 2 SSP or 46P.

Everything Tereza bought for her family will only last her three days.

Food prices here are really high compared to other towns in South Sudan. The location near to North Sudan makes it difficult for a regular food supply from Uganda and Kenya.

Even basic items like onions and greens are missing.

A deadly weed problem

The soaring price of food isn’t the only problem facing Tereza’s community.

Farmers used to put cow manure on the striga weed to kill it and save their sorghum crops, but during the war their cattle were stolen. Crops and children are suffering because of it.

“If I cultivate this small land, then I can use the gains during the harvest period. If things become difficult again during the dry season, I can resell the animals,” Tereza says.

“Since the Save the Children project started, I have bought 2 goats and 4 chickens. I have managed to cultivate this land around the house as well.”

Tereza's crop of sorghum is growing tall.
Tereza's crop of sorghum is growing tall, despite the pesky striga weed.

Find out more about how we’re helping in South Sudan

Share this article