Thai engineers support displaced communities in South Sudan by training them on sustainable farming practices
Peacekeepers serving with the United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) often go beyond their mandated tasks to help the communities they are here to serve. The Thai Horizontal Military Engineering Company are no exception.
Blue Helmets from Thailand are not only doing their bit to repair and rehabilitate critical infrastructure such as main supply routes across this young country, but have also embarked on training local communities, especially displaced people, how to grow their own food.
The main aim: To equip people with skills to become economically independent and embrace a sustainable mode of livelihood.
According to Major Tiwa Kampeera, the Team Leader of this intervention, peacekeepers wanted to trickle down the philosophy of self-sufficient economies that was embraced by the departed Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej.
“It’s about a balanced way of living and is based on the key principles of motivation, reasonableness and prudence along with morality and knowledge. More importantly, these principles can be applied to any level of society to make sure they are empowered with the tools needed to forge a prosperous life,” explains Major Kampeera. “We, therefore, felt that passing down the knowledge we have about sustainable agricultural practices would benefit local communities here for generations to come.”
The committed team of Thai peacekeepers conducted two vocational trainings for local communities on organic farming and agriproduct processing. Participants learnt how to grow vegetables they were familiar with and were introduced to new ones. They also learnt how to prepare delicious and nutritious meals.
According to Jaak Buom Gathuak, a displaced person residing in the Juba camp for internally displaced persons, who participated in the training sessions, he has been given a skill for life. “The economic situation in South Sudan, especially for displaced people, is dire,” reveals Jaak. “Many of us had to give up our homes, our education during the civil war and lack the training required to start a trade. With the skills I have acquired through these workshops, I am confident that I will be able to farm successfully and teach other community members these good practices as well.”
The project has been handed over to the South Sudanese National Police Service to manage. However, the Thai HMEC have three more months left in South Sudan and they are keeping a watchful eye, ready to help in any way they can, if needed.
“Even though we are just a small part of the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, we have tried to do our best to develop and support this community and this country by helping individuals forge a better future,” says Lieutenant-Colonel Kaisin Sasunee, contingent commander.