Sudan: Camp Dwellers Welcome New Food Choices
Abdulla Adam Mussa and his family have spent the last seven years in a camp for displaced people in western Darfur. For most of that time, they’ve gotten by on food aid. But thanks to a new food vouchers scheme, they’ll be able to shop for their own food on local markets, allowing them more choice and a greater variety.
El GENEINA – Life has been a constant struggle for Abdulla Adam Mussa and his family since 2004 when they moved to the Krinding Camp for displaced people in El Geneina, West Darfur.
“We had no choice but to flee our village, there was war and looting,” said the 44-year-old father of seven. “Krinding Camp has been our home. My youngest child, Salim, was born here. My daughter Hawa is expecting a baby soon and her baby will also be born in this camp.”
To make ends meet, Mussa takes whatever jobs are available. His wife helps out by working in a brick factory. “Thank heavens for the food we receive. It has kept us going since we arrived at the camp,” said Mussa.
In addition to receiving some food directly, Mussa and his family have recently begun receiving food vouchers, which they can use at local shops.
“Food is available in the markets here,” said WFP Head of West Darfur Area Office Tito Nikodimos. “But the displaced people that we assist don't have the money to buy it. Vouchers can help them buy the food they want.”
As part of the new programme, Mussa and each member of his family will receive a food voucher worth 17 Sudanese pounds (about US $5.60), which they can use to redeem a total of 14 food items at select stores in the region. Their options include, sorghum, wheat, rice, millet, beans, sugar, iodized salt, dry okra, dry tomato, meat, eggs, ground nut oil, lentil and mutton.
In Zalengi, the vouchers will be worth 8 Sudanese pounds as cereals will continue to be provided directly through WFP in-kind distributions.
WFP has been providing food assistance to the displaced and conflict-affected people of Darfur since 2004. Over the last two years, it has adapted its emergency programme to the evolving needs of the displaced people and other vulnerable groups in the region.
“Our aim is to provide people like Mussa to get a range food items so that they can enjoy the variety of food that is available on local markets, but is beyond their reach,” he added.
As such, the food voucher programme will also help to bolster the local economy and support farmers, who will in turn be able to produce more food.
As well as helping to enrich the diet of poor and displaced people, Nikodimos said the vouchers offered a way around the many logistical challenges that come with feeding a large number of people in a place like Darfur.
In 2011, WFP plans to reach 4.1 million people in Darfur with food assistance half a million of whom will be covered through the food vouchers programme.