Livelihoods Skills Development for New Beginnings: Vegetable farming helps one family settle down in Bentiu

Nyehok was only 15 when her parents forced her to marry a man who was twice her age. She gave birth to her first son at 17, only two years into the marriage.

“The delivery was very painful. I almost lost my life. I did not have enough strength to push the baby out and the women around me kept telling me to push harder with more force. I passed out and only woke up when the baby had been pulled out,’’ said Nyehok.

With the many challenges and health risks involved in early delivery due to forced marriages, Nyehok thanks God she survived. After two years, she conceived again, and this time she was able to deliver normally. Nyehok then gave birth to her third child soon after that.

In 2014, conflict broke out in her home village, Koch, about 100 kilometers from Bentiu.  Nyehok had no choice but to take her children and flee to Bentiu. The journey, which would normally take one day on foot, took nearly four days for Nyehok and her children

“We ran out of food and resorted to eating wild fruits for the four days we were in the bush. My oldest son, who was helping carry his other sister fell sick due to the long journey. I managed to treat him with some herbs. God gave him the energy to move up to Bentiu. We went straight to the protection of civilians site on arrival in Bentiu,” Nyehok explained.

At the Protection of Civilians (PoC) site Nyehok was received by the International Organization for Migration (IOM) camp coordination and camp management team, who helped her settle in.

When her husband joined the family in 2015, they stayed in the PoC for another year but Nyehok wanted to take charge of her life once again. They decided to look for other means of livelihood outside the PoC. Nyehok decided to start collecting firewood to sell in the market. She would also burn charcoal to increase her income.

In 2018, IOM’s Transition and Recovery team conducted a livelihood skills development training in Bentiu for small scale farmers. Nyehok heard the news and decided to attend the training. They were asked to form groups of five people which would later be supported through various partners with seeds and assorted farming implements  

“This farm has given me a new hope in life. When we decided to leave the PoC, I had no idea how we were going to survive. The little I used to make from selling charcoal and firewood was not enough to sustain our daily expenses. But in 2018, we received seeds, farming tools from the Rural Community Development Initiative to expand our farm. Now our produce has increased. With the additional income we get from produce of our farm plus my husband’s contributions, we are now able to buy clothes and pay for the medical expenses of our children more comfortably.

Nyehok’s group are beneficiaries of the project funded by the United Nations Peacebuilding Fund and implemented by IOM in partnership with its local partner the Rural Community Development Initiative (RCDI).

The PBF funded project” Beyond Bentiu protection of civilian site (POC) youth reintegration strategy: creating condition for peaceful coexistence between youth internally displaced persons (IDPs), returnees and host community members” aimed at generating a strong evidence base and analysis to understand conflict drivers and return patterns; strengthening mediation and reconciliation mechanisms and strengthening economic and social interdependencies for the IDPs, returnees and host community

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