El Rahat – When conflict broke out in April in Abu Karshola, South Kordofan state, thousands fled to villages in the neighbouring state of North Kordofan. They walked for hours and sometimes days before a large number of them reached El Rahat taking refuge with host communities, relatives or in public schools.
Ibrahim Bobo and his family were among them.
“I already lost five family members and I did not want to lose any more of them, so I told my wife to leave and take our children to a safe place,” said Bobo. “It took me three days to be reunited with them. They are in one of the schools with hundreds of other families who had been forced out of their villages.”
Most of the displaced people relied for weeks on the hospitality and generosity of their relatives and host communities as well as the local government’s support.
“Conflict not only causes large-scale displacement, it also creates greater humanitarian needs and food is on top of those needs,” said WFP Deputy Country Director Margot Van der Velden. “As soon as we were informed that we could carry out an assessment of the needs of the newly displaced people, we sent our team to look into their situation.”
The assessment found that over 30,000 people are in need of food assistance, 60 percent of them were children.
“Knowing the number of those who needed our assistance is just one step, we also needed to know how quickly and efficiently we can respond to their needs,” said Van der Velden. “Since food is available in surrounding markets we decided to go for food vouchers with local traders to supply and deliver the much-needed food assistance.”
Two weeks into this new wave of displacement, four WFP teams and 12 staff members from the Sudanese Red Crescent Society were on the ground working simultaneously to distribute food vouchers. Displaced people were able to use the vouchers at two local traders in exchange for sorghum, lentils, oil and sugar.Bobo is now among thousands of people who are able to shop for their food using WFP vouchers.
“I am happy to receive assistance and I thank WFP for this, just going to the store gives one a sense of normalcy especially when almost nothing of our old life is left,” said Bobo.
Food vouchers are playing a key role in WFP’s emergency response to those who have been recently displaced in South Kordofan and fled to North Kordofan. Thanks to a generous contribution from the European Commission Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection Department (ECHO), WFP was able to provide a timely and efficient response, meet the immediate food needs of the displaced population and, at the same time, help boost the local economy.