Photograph by Randy Olson
Women tie up heavy sacks of World Food Program (WFP) grain, then hoist the bags onto their heads to carry them home from Malualkon, a food distribution center in southern Sudan. The grain will go far toward helping the women feed their familiesproviding a quarter or more of their diets. The WFP, which flew in the grain with the permission of the government, works with other aid organizations under the UN umbrella organization, Operation Lifeline Sudan (OLS). These organizations are often criticized for making southerners dependent on outside aid and for bringing food into combat zones, where it sometimes ends up feeding fighters. But humanitarian workers say that war and drought make it impossible for local farmers and herders to survive on their own. The OLS only provides a fraction of the food people need. They also work hard to ensure that the food goes to civilians and is not diverted to soldiers. Without relief, aid workers say, thousands more civilians would perish.