In Melut, Upper Nile, animal herding is a way of life.
It puts food on the table, ensures children can go to school and families can sustain themselves, especially during the long rainy season.
Last week, hope blossomed among livestock owners and local authorities alike when the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) handed over a newly built veterinary clinic here.
“We badly needed this facility because we have been overrun with complaints from local herders and community members about the lack of treatment available for sick animals,” said County Commissioner Deng Agok, who received the official hand over from the UN Peacekeeping mission’s Protection, Transition and Reintegration section.
“The majority of people earn their livelihoods from breeding animals and the ongoing floods have made it very, very difficult for them since many herds have contracted diseases,” continued Mr. Agok.
The County Commissioner’s views were supported by community leader Stephen Dhieu Dau.
“Our lives depend on the trade that healthy animals bring in and this gesture from UNMISS will go a long way in securing our income,” said Mr. Dau.
For his part, Bodhok Ayang Aney Kur, Governor of Upper Nile, while appreciating UNMISS, reiterated his commitment to supply the clinic with medicines and vaccinations.
“Our partners at UNMISS have done their job and now its our turn,” stated Governor Kur. “I have already been in touch with counterparts from the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Health in Juba to purchase necessary equipment, medicines and vaccinations and our veterinarians will soon be able to start treating livestock.”
The construction of the clinic, which was actioned by the UN Peacekeeping misison under its Quick Impact Projects (QIPs) programme that addresses urgent public needs by funding low-cost, small-scale projects, was overseen by local implementing partner, Mentor Initiative Organization.
Apart from providing immediate relief to livestock owners, the facility is also expected to promote greater social cohesion among communities in Melut.
“Our primary goals at UNMISS are to protect civilians and help bring a durable peace across South Sudan. We hope the clinic will promote peaceful coexistence in Melut and nearby villages, providing a space for livestock owners to congregate, ensure their animals are in good health and support each other,” said Leda Limann, Head of the mission’s Field Office in Malakal.