The 7-year-old fishing for his family's survival | Plan International Skip to main content

The 7-year-old fishing for his family's survival

Lat Bol may be just 7 years old but since the food crisis in South Sudan worsened in February, he’s become the main provider of food for his entire family.

Lat Bol arrives home after a morning spent fishing.
Lat Bol arrives home after a morning spent fishing in Rumbek, Lakes State.

Donate to the East Africa Food Crisis AppealEvery day, 7-year-old Bol who is the youngest in his family goes out with a group of boys of his age to catch fish in the ponds near his home. Bol lives in rural Rumbek, Lakes State, where thousands of people are on the brink of malnutrition and starvation.

Children on the brink of starvation

The fish range from the size of his thumb to the size of his hand. On a good day, Bol can catch several. Combined with the wild fruits and leaves his 3 sisters collect from a nearby forest, the family has just enough to prepare a bowl of soup for each person per day.

If my 7-year-old didn’t go fishing for us, we’d starve.

“If he didn’t go fishing, we wouldn’t be able to eat anything at all except Laluq seeds,” says Bol’s mother Nyitur Malual, referring to the seeds of a wild fruit tree on which many families in the area have been forced to rely in recent weeks.

Nyitur, who is in her mid-forties, says she worries the food will never become more plentiful and that her children will never know a better life. Her two eldest sons fled intercommunal fighting in the locality more than 3 years ago and never returned.

Education comes second to survival

As for Bol, he’s not been in school while the family has relied on him to feed them. “I am happy to catch fish so my sisters can eat,” says Bol.

I am happy to catch fish so my sisters can eat.

Around 4.9 million people - more than 40% of South Sudan's population - are in need of urgent food, agriculture and nutrition assistance.

Famine has been declared in some parts of South Sudan and the food security situation in the country continues to deteriorate.

We're supporting children in crisis areas

Aleer has been fishing for his family in Lakes State, South Sudan.
Aleer has been fishing for his family who live in one of the worst-hit crisis areas.

Plan International is working in the Lakes States, as well as in Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria and Jonglei, providing life-saving food, nutrition and livelihood interventions to ensure that children like Bol and their families don’t go hungry.

In March alone, we distributed food to 8,500 people, mostly children aged between 6 and 17 and provided school meals for 15,500 children as part of our Food for Education programme.

More than 7,000 children have also received educational materials such as textbooks and pens to help them continue their studies during the crisis through Plan International’s Education in Emergencies programme.

Show your support

Help children like Bol by donating to our East Africa Food Crisis Appeal

For more information about the growing crisis, please visit: Why is there a food crisis in East Africa?