John Koru Agang, 37, has farmed his land in Bahr el Ghazal for much of his life. His family depend on the crops he grows to put food on their table.
In an area prone to food shortages, this is no small challenge: John and his wife care for another boy and girl as well as their own two children.
‘It was difficult during the hunger period to have food in your house.’
Food aid delivered
In 1998 Bahr el Ghazal suffered a serious famine. While drought was partly to blame, the raging civil war also played a part. Farmers’ crops and possessions were regularly raided while the fighting caused many to abandon their land. As a result, many people became totally reliant on food aid. This caused further tensions as communities argued over unfair distribution.
Christian Aid partner Hope Agency for Relief and Development (HARD) believed there was an alternative to food aid.
Providing efficient tools, training and drought resistant seeds, HARD invested time and energy into helping farmers increase their yields and become self-sufficient.
John was helped by HARD’s scheme. Although implementing new techniques was difficult at first, having bought and trained some bulls, the benefits were obvious to John.
In contrast to past food shortages and reliance on food aid, John now provides food for his family all year round.
Passing on knowledge
Passionate about the possibilities he saw in using these new farming techniques, John wanted to share these benefits with his community.
John explains: ‘When I have my bulls ploughing, neighbours can come and learn from that. Later I help that household to plough. After that I also teach another household.’
With farmers like John keen to spread their skills, the benefits of this work for the community can be continuously extended.
Not only is John now self-sufficient, he also employs others on his land - and feeds them.
John and his family are a familiar sight on the road from Acumcum to the town of Wau as he now owns a motorbike and two bicycles.
By passing on his knowledge he is ensuring the whole community can follow in his footsteps and reduce their need for outside help.
He says: ‘I will not wait for NGOs to come and give me seeds or help. It is me now helping others.’
For people like John in South Sudan, food aid could be a thing of the past.
Find out more
Read about the separation of Sudan
Sudan's long civil war left people hungry