COVID19 is quickly spreading across South Sudan, and the farming communities are highly susceptible. This has been worsened by the lack of or distorted information reaching the remote villages where these farmers are leaving. Star Trust Organization a National organization based in Yambio is going an extra mile taking COVID-19 awareness to the farms of most vulnerable communities leaving in difficult and hard to reach areas in Western Equatoria.
STO Agricultural Extension Workers are the unsung heroes who have dedicated their time to take messages on COVID19 preventions, signs, and symptoms to the most vulnerable farming communities in the hard to reach areas in the region. “Prevention is the only known remedy now, farmers knowing about these measures is key to flattening the curve on the spread of COVID19 and ensure that agricultural livelihoods and production of food for communities in South Sudan is sustained amidst the worsening food security situation in the country,” said Garingbi Mathew, STO’s extension worker based in Nzara County.
The information content reaching the rural communities is being compromised by distortion, fueled by existing myths that surround the pandemic. Most asked questions were around alcohol intake as a preventive measure and that South Sudanese are immune to the virus. “Farmers learn by seeing, as an extension worker, taking the message to the farms is very important, this helps farmers to feel valued and helps them see through the displays and know the importance of preventing their families and the community. It also helps them to clarify the myths that have proliferated in the community on the pandemic,” Said Rufina Sunday an extension worker, based in Yambio.
Taking awareness to the farms has a wider implication on the food security and the health of the farmers. The awareness strategy mobilizes the lead farmers to spread the message wide to other farmers alongside STO’s extension workers. Farmers learn through other farmers faster.
Talking to STO’s Executive director Mr Tangun Stephen on the initiative, he echoed the need for a robust civil society campaign program that brings in every organization, CBO, and groups, to pool resources, as it is the primary responsibility of the CSO to promote the holistic wellbeing of the people. “Our philosophy in STO is to harness local resources for the development of individuals that we serve…. Farmers are at the forefront of the fight against food security in South Sudan and the overall SDG agenda of “Zero hunger” their wellbeing and health is a priority that everyone should be concerned about”
This initiative comes at a time when one COVID19 positive case has been confirmed in Yambio. Besides, South Sudan COVID19 cases raising to over 1300, 6 recoveries, and 14 confirmed deaths.