POVERTY: Sudan: Unity State Women Struggling to Work Their Way Out of Poverty
BY BONIFACIO TABAN KUICH, 3 OCTOBER 2012
Bentiu — Women in South Sudan's Unity State who are engaging in small-scale agriculture are struggling to work their way out of poverty, as they contend with heavy rains and rising food insecurity.
Some grow vegetables crops on small-scale farms, while others sell fresh milk in the market. South Sudan's economy has suffered since January when oil-production was stopped as part of a dispute over transit fees with Sudan.
Food security and the economies of many areas of South Sudan have been further hindered by sever floods, which the UN say will affect at least three times as many people as last year.
A UN report in September found that: "Between June and September, flooding affected over 258,000 people and reached 39 of the country's 79 counties. Flooding over the same period in 2011 affected close to 79,000 people and 16 counties, according to inter-agency assessments and local authority reports."
The flooding has meant that many crops in Unity State have been destroyed, leaving many women struggling to feed their families or sell enough food to survive.
On the outskirts of state capital Bentiu, women grow vegetables such okra, cow peas, pumpkins, tomatoes and eggplant, which are taken to Bentui's market for sale.
Rebecca Nyamuoka Kuay a 25-year-old vegetable seller in Kalibalek market says that her small business is helping her family survive, despite high levels of inflation.
Kuay says she and her fellow women often have to sit in the sun, waiting for customers to buy their vegetables.
"Before the prices increase, women use to get 50 SSP per day in the process of selling vegetables. But due to recent inflation women find it hard for 50 SSP to buy 5Kg of sorghum in the market as the market price increase every day", said Kuay.
Kuay called on the government to control the high increases in food prices in the market by limiting taxes on traders so that citizens can afford to eat.
Nyakuoth Kuol walked 20 miles each day to Bentiu town to sell milk in Kalibalek market in order to afford health care for her sick 5-year-old daughter who is in hospital. However, she told Sudan Tribune that thieves stole 200 SSP (approx. $65) while she was selling her milk.
Kuol says she is giving up selling milk in the town after she lost her money.
"I came here yesterday upon my arrive, some guys came and steal my money, I got discourage with the business, my present here was to rise up money, this is really making me very shame as I thought my coming was to solve my problem with my children", Kuol added.
As women struggle to sell their vegetables in the market, 50-year-old Kuol Luany Riang is sells dry tobacco in order to generate money for his basic needs. Riang came from Tuocluak village deep Rubkotna County walking 5 hours to reach Bentiu town to sell tobacco and buy some items for his family.
"I'm now one year in the business, what I got after here is to buy some shoes, salt, soap and fishing hoofs for my personal use in the family".
South Sudanese border state have been particularly hit by the austerity measures and inflation caused by the oil shut-down. In Unity State, prices for goods imported from Juba or from East African countries have doubled since the January
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He has held professorial positions in Canada, Vietnam and the United States, practiced and taught orthopaedic surgery in three continents and in several wars.
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