Watering cans come in all shapes and sizes: small tin ones to care for indoor plants, heirloom copper cans that haven’t seen water in fifty years, large green industrial tools to shower the whole garden.

Food packages ready to be distributed in South Sudan.
Photo credit: Tearfund

For families in Aweil, South Sudan, watering cans were part of a food security response that provided hope for a future with less hunger.

Since August 2019, the region of Aweil state (now part of Northern Bahr el Ghazal) has been marked by conflict. For subsistence farmers, the resulting high cost of farm inputs and blocked ports of entry for goods have created serious challenges. This winter, 184,000 people—over fifty percent of the state’s population, many of whom rely on agriculture—were food insecure.

Responding with Tearfund Canada through Canadian Foodgrains Bank, PWS&D helped meet the needs of 1,200 households over the duration of the project by distributing sorghum, beans, cooking oil and salt, as well as farm inputs and tools like watering cans so they could grow fresh produce. Families, including 1,072 female-led households where food insecurity is more often felt, were trained on the drying and storage of vegetables to provide nutrition during lean times.

Social distancing was practiced to ensure beneficiaries stayed safe from COVID-19.
Photo credit: Tearfund

The project also included training and awareness efforts on the prevention of gender-based violence. This helped protect women, and opened the door for these key caretakers to advocate for their family’s nutrition.

The restrictions of COVID-19 did not stand in the way of the final distribution for this phase of the project. With an updated plan for handing out items, the team—still committed to watering the garden of hope—maintained social distance and engaged in careful hygiene at the distribution points.

Staying home to prevent the spread of COVID-19 compounds many issues for people living in need. The World Food Programme estimates that the number of hungry people will almost double in 2020. COVID-19 also makes each day more dangerous for those living in homes with gender-based violence as they are isolated alongside abusers, without safe access to support services. Recognizing that food assistance and gender awareness training are more essential now than ever, PWS&D will continue to support efforts to ensure they take place.

*PWS&D is a member of Canadian Foodgrains Bank, a partnership of 15 churches and church agencies working together to end global hunger.