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Desperate families gather water lilies to survive

Desperate families gather water lilies to survive

© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

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© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

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© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

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© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

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© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

In this remote and flooded region of South Sudan, safety nets have not been maintained. Crops have been damaged by water, and as families are left without seeds, they are unable to save food for tough times. The little earth that was not completely submerged turned to mud, making sowing impossible. In addition, much of the area’s livestock, which produce milk when all else is lacking, have succumbed to disease-infested floods.

Women in and around Paguir, desperately searching for food for their families, turned to the water lilies that grow in floods as a last resort.

“We survived collecting water lilies”

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Nyawech giel

Paguir, South Sudan

Mothers, grandmothers and even pregnant women walk or canoe long distances in flood waters. They spend several hours, or even entire days, looking for water lily bulbs, which grow underwater.

“We are not used to collecting water lilies, but the floods forced us to do so”explains Bol Kek, another mother of Paguir. “ Women have big hearts. We are doing everything in our power to feed our families. “

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© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

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© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

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© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

Bol has seven children, who depend on their daily trips to find water lilies. After collecting a few dozen bulbs, he goes home and mixes the insides of the bulbs with the weeds he finds in the ground to make a soup.

“My children depend on what I find. I cook for them, and they wait for me while I go looking for water lilies “explains Bol. “ Life is very hard, but we stay strong. We have been living in the water and collecting water lilies for a long time. We are not happy. “

“Due to the floods, we have nothing to eat”explains Bol Kek, 45. “We try to sow, but nothing grows because of the water. That is why we collect water lilies. “

At this time of year, clouds and frequent rains cool the water.

“We leave when the sun is at its highest point and we return when it sets. In the water it is very cold, especially when it is deep. Several of us started coughing. Nyadiang explains. “My chest hurts… and I think that’s why. After bringing the water lilies from the river, we have to crush them, and breathing this dust makes you cough. “

Water lilies grow in clusters of four, and it takes at least two clusters to prepare a small meal for a child. Several women like Nyawech, Nyadiang and Bol have to collect dozens of bulbs every day so that their children do not starve. Its nutritional value is low, but there is nothing else to fill stomachs.

“We have nothing to eat, so we eat these water lilies, which have no nutrients.”explains Nyawech. “We eat them to fill our stomachs, but they don’t take away hunger… The floods were tragic for everyone. Everybody is in pain. “

“Only three people can eat with what I have here”explains Nyaduoth Gatdot, 50. “It will not be enough to feed all my children and their father. “

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© Peter Caton for Action Against Hunger

Hunger and disease abound in the humid and muddy areas where members of this community live, who have never experienced such floods before.

« Before these two floods, I had an orchard that mIt allowed me to feed my family and I was able to send my children to school, ”says Nyadiang. “Now they can’t go because I can’t support them. We had to come to live on the heights, and we don’t know if one day we will be able to leave. “

“We try to sow, but nothing grows because of the water.”


He was

Paguir, South Sudan

In South Sudan, floods have affected the lives of large numbers of people, but the population is refusing to surrender. Communities are constantly building and repairing levees to protect what little they have left from these invasive floods. Families protect their homes by pouring water over the levees every day. In all flooded areas, communities struggle to stay safe from water and mothers to feed their families.

“We are proud of the work we do”says Bol. “ We are going to collect water lilies because without them we could not survive. “

Action Against Hunger’s response

In and around Old Fangak, Action Against Hunger prevents and treats malnutrition, provides medical care and improves access to clean water, safe sanitation and good hygiene.

To help families displaced by the floods, we have launched an emergency response to provide them with food aid, fishing kits and seeds with the support of the European Union. Our teams are also actively participating in vaccinating against COVID-19 in this hard-to-reach and flooded area of ​​South Sudan.



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