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Sudan Humanitarian Fund helps to plant seeds of hope for Taiba’s family

06 Jul 2020


Taiba Elherika holds a bag of seeds given to her grandmother as part of a project through Concern Worldwide that is funded by the Sudan Humanitarian Fund. Credit: Concern Worldwide/Hayam Algack Ali Hamdan

By Lilian Nduta Githungo, OCHA Humanitarian Affairs Officer, and Sonia Khoudja, OCHA Public Information Officer, in Khartoum, Sudan

At the tender age of 9, Taiba Elherika is grieving the loss of both of her parents in a span of just two years. Her mother died during childbirth in 2018 and her father in ethnic clashes between Miseria and Rezigat tribes in Sudan’s West Kordofan region in early 2019, leaving Taiba and her two siblings under the care of their aging grandmother.

“We are afraid of tomorrow,” says Bakita Ahmed, Taiba’s grandmother, as she does not have a sustainable source of income to meet her needs and those of her grandchildren. The members of Taiba’s family used to work as livestock rearers, but with the loss of Taiba’s father, they now make a living as casual farm labourers and sometimes trade in firewood and charcoal.

Recently, it has become increasingly difficult for the small family to make ends meet. The family is part of a nomadic community in Meiram, a locality in West Kordofan. Local market prices for basic goods have more than doubled in the past year, and containment measures and the lockdown due to COVID-19 have further driven inflation. According to the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FewsNet), the price for sorghum, a staple food item in the region, rose to 30 Sudanese pounds (US$0.54) per kilo in April 2020, compared with a five-year average of about 5 Sudanese pounds ($0.09) per kilo. Prices are expected to continue to increase between the upcoming lean season and the next harvest season, which starts in October.

As the female head of her household with limited income opportunities, Taiba’s grandmother was selected to receive 3 kgs of sorghum seeds and 3 kgs of sesame seeds, as well as farming tools and farming training.

Taiba’s family is among 1,200 families receiving assistance through Concern WorldwideGlobal Aid Hand, a national NGO, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), which provided seeds. The project is being funded by the Sudan Humanitarian Fund (SHF), one of OCHA’s 18 Country-Based Pooled Funds.

The project benefited 800 South Sudanese refugee households as well as 400 vulnerable host community households during the first week of June.

Taiba's grandmother receives a bag of seeds as part of the project. Credit: Concern Worldwide/Hayam Algack Ali Hamdan

Although Concern Worldwide has worked in West Kordofan since the mid-1980s and has undertaken distributions in the area since 2016, doing such work under the threat of COVID-19 was new for everyone. All activities for the distribution project were adjusted to align with governmental directives. Front-line staff wore full personal protective equipment, and portable water stations for handwashing were placed strategically at the distribution site. Maintaining physical distance, handwashing and disinfection were mandatory during the five-day distribution activities.

“Spreading the distribution across several days assisted us to control the number of people at the distribution centre and avoided large group gatherings,” says Hayam Algack Ali Hamdan, Concern Worldwide’s Hygiene Promotion Officer, who oversaw the distribution in Meiram. “We painted circles on the ground using white chalk to designate where each recipient was to stand to enforce social distancing.” Before COVID-19, two days would have been adequate for such an intervention.

“This distribution was well timed to coincide with the planting season, as we expect the rains from June to October,” says Ms. Hamdan. “It would have become impossible to distribute the seeds after the rains begin because the roads become too muddy and are impassable, especially when transporting a large consignment of goods,” she added.

With this assistance and the hope of attaining food security in the forthcoming season, Taiba’s family is more optimistic about the future.

“Since our father died, we were worried about how to make a living,” says Taiba as she and her sister watch her grandmother collect the seeds and farming tools at the distribution site. “The seeds will help us to grow our own food, and when we sell the excess, we can buy water and meet other needs.”

The distribution site where tools and seeds are distributed by Concern Worldwide in Sudan. Credit: Concern Worldwide/Hayam Algack Ali Hamdan

For OCHA’s CBPFs, NGOs and local partners are key in the COVID-19 response and reaching people in need. Many of the 18 funds have long-standing partnerships with national and international NGOs, which has made it easy to come together and prioritize funding.

CBFPs have been critical instruments in fighting the COVID-19 pandemic and channelling resources to where they are most needed. So far, $159 million has been allocated to support efforts, with more than half of that amount going directly to NGOs. Additional countries are being identified under the Global Humanitarian Response Plan.

The latest information on funding and allocations is available in real time via