South Sudan has some of the highest malnutrition rates in Sub-Saharan Africa – children and babies are most acutely impacted. Three in 10 children under five will have suffered from stunting*, limiting both their physical and cognitive growth, and often causing chronic diseases in adult life.
Our UK Aid Match project took a holistic approach to tackling malnutrition in the Aweil North and Jur River regions of the country. We aimed to make positive behavioural changes with people, institutions and market systems involved in access to nutrition – including mothers, farmers, county nutrition departments, and other key community stakeholders.
The UK Aid Match programme came to an end in October 2021, reaching an incredible 67,455 women and girls of childbearing age and 37,265 children under five in Aweil North and Jur River Counties.
Aweil North and Jur River regions of South Sudan
July 2018 to July 2021
28,174 women and girls of child-bearing age and 24,733 children under five
Support for peace, education, development programme (SPEDP)
Hope Agency For Relief and Development (HARD)
Rebecca was given seeds for maize, sorghum, cowpeas and groundnuts. She also got tools – an axe, rakes and hoes.
‘I am happy. I have good health now. You can see it. All the crops give me a balanced diet – I have vitamins and protein.’
‘Before the project I would not know which types of food were healthy. Now I know we need different types of food to be healthy.’
After receiving training on nutrition, Rebecca now gives her four-year-old son a wider variety of food. She now knows what food to give and not to give. She discovered that young children should not have groundnuts so now she does not give them to her two-year-old daughter.
She says she has a lot more experience now. ‘I didn’t know planting different crops would help nutrition.’
She used to sell crops in the market but there was never enough to really help. Now she has money she can plan more and keep some for emergencies. She wants to be able to sell crops in the market and perhaps open a business.
She expects that the whole community will no longer need to depend on WFP (World Food Programme) and on selling charcoal.
This project reached 67,455 women and girls of childbearing age and 37,265 children under five in Aweil North and Jur River Counties.
There is increase in knowledge in the importance of diet and health amongst these women with children.
More women are now breastfeeding and understand its importance.
The project supported 60 teachers and 600 school children with nutrition and health messages to improve knowledge and attitudes on nutrition. In turn the new school vegetable gardens have promoted important farming skills.
We supported 6,650 households made up of farmers, traders, fishermen and village savings and loan members to better access nutritious food.
16,000 people now have access to clean safe drinking water.
We have seen an increase in children being born in health care facilities due to the awareness raising and referrals by the traditional birth attendants and mother-to-mother groups.
All activities were designed with the communities to ensure community participation and ownership.
The project aimed to improve both the awareness of and access to basic nutrition, primarily amongst women of child-bearing age and children under the age of five.
A key focus of the project was changing the culture around nutrition. This involved dispelling misguided beliefs. For example, it’s often seen as unhealthy for women to eat meat during lactation. It also included trying to change the attitudes that prevent women from accessing information about nutrition.
We worked with mothers, who tend to hold the most influence in household matters, equipping them with practical knowledge around nutrition – for example the importance of breastfeeding during and after child illness.
Importantly, we extended this awareness activity to other key agents of change, including faith leaders.
The project helped to improve the availability of nutritious food. Training was provided to farmers to improve the quality and quantity of their crops. This involved establishing ‘demonstration plots’, where community members could see first-hand the impact of the improved agricultural practices.