After a long day of weeding in her field, 28-year-old Anyik can finally rest and breastfeed her one-month-old baby.
In the kitchen, a pot of belila, a local dish of sorghum with beans, simmers steadily. It will be served as supper to her 3 other children.
This is the first time in months Anyik has not had to worry about feeding her children or keeping them safe. Originally from South Sudan’s Jonglei State, she is one of 175,000 internally displaced people who has settled in Awerial County in the country’s Lakes State.
Displaced by chaos and conflict
Once thriving farmers, she and her husband were prevented from harvesting their crops by the conflict which is ravaging across South Sudan.
We left everything. All I could carry were my children.
“Our cows were raided and houses were burnt,” she says, recalling the day an armed gang attacked her village. “I escaped the guns by hiding myself and my children in a boat for 4 hours, then walking for 3 more hours until we got to Awerial. We left everything. All I could carry were my children.”
If the conflict was not enough, drought has been plaguing much of South Sudan, forcing vast numbers of its population to rely on humanitarian aid. Anyik is one of 8,600 people receiving food aid from Plan International in partnership with World Food Programme.
“Since we settled here, there has been no rain,” she says. “The food rations we are now getting from Plan International are all we have.”
Supplies are running low
The villagers used to receive enough food to last them an entire month but the influx of internally displaced people and increasing food needs have meant supplies are stretched much more thinly. Families now receive half a month’s supply of food each.
“It is much better than nothing,” says Anyik. “It used to terrify me to see my children wailing with hunger in the night. For 15 days, I have a guaranteed supply of food. The rest of the time, I dig for wild fruits and my husband brings fish and water lilies. We live each day as it comes.”
Now that the rainy season has begun, Anyik is starting to plant some of the grains she has received from Plan International in the hope that she will reap a good harvest this year. She wants to sell her crops to raise enough income to send her eldest daughter to school.
Anyik is not educated herself but she is ambitious for her children. Her eldest son is already in primary school and the temporary learning centres Plan International is constructing for 3 to 6-year-olds provides hope that her youngest children will soon be able to secure their right to an education too.
“I look forward to enrolling my youngest daughter there,” says Anyik.
Our humanitarian response in South Sudan
Plan International is working in Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei and the Lakes States to provide life-saving food, nutrition and livelihood interventions including agricultural tools and fishing kits to families who need it most.
Through our child protection and gender-based violence prevention measures, we’re ensuring that children, especially girls, who have been made vulnerable due to the emergency are protected from abuse. We’re also providing access to quality education and skills training in an effort to minimise the impact of the food crisis on South Sudan's children's futures.
Donate to the appeal
To help families like Anyik’s, please donate to the East Africa Food Crisis Appeal