Minister for Agriculture Charlie McConalogue concluded his international development mission to the Horn of Africa in South Sudan on Monday.

The primary focus of his visit was to engage with the World Food Programme (WFP), as Ireland prepares for a new Strategic Partnership Agreement with the programme for 2025 to 2027.

In its short 12-year history, South Sudan has been plagued by conflict and devastating weather events. Humanitarian assistance is required by 75% of its population, of which some 87% rely on agriculture, livestock, and forestry. This has been exacerbated by the arrival of over 600,000 refugees fleeing the conflict in Sudan. Ireland’s support to South Sudan is through the Government of Ireland’s International Development Programme which includes partnerships with NGOs and multilateral agencies such as WFP and FAO (UN Food and Agriculture Organisation).

Minister McConalogue said he was proud to be the first cabinet minister from Ireland to visit South Sudan and the first Minister for Agriculture, Food and the Marine, to see how funding provided by his Department is supporting communities on the ground.

“The people here in South Sudan are predominantly pastoralists who rely on agriculture to feed their families and for their income,” he said.

Reflecting on his visit to farm projects in Warrap State, South Sudan, the minister said that the stark realities of farming were evident after he had spoken with the community of farmers at Molboor cattle camp in Juba.

“Disease, low productivity and traditional practices are impacting negatively on their ability to support themselves. WFP South Sudan, under the leadership of country director, and Donegal native, Mary Ellen McGroarty, is supporting farmers to diversify their systems. It was a privilege to speak to farmers, particularly women farmers, in Alek who with support from WFP are growing vegetables all year round with the use of purpose-built ponds and climate-resistant crops such as cassava.

This is one of the most dangerous places in the world for humanitarian workers to work in

“This improves resilience and food security, thereby reducing the need for food assistance,” he said.

Minister McConalogue also met with NGOs and UN representatives strengthening relations which began with South Sudan’s independence in 2011.

“Practically all the Irish NGOs are present in the Horn of Africa and I met with representatives in all three countries. This is one of the most dangerous places in the world for humanitarian workers to work in and I want to recognise them and thank them for the work they are doing,” he said.


The minister started his visit to the Horn of Africa in Kenya, where he announced a global funding commitment of €105m to WFP from Ireland for the period 2025 to 2027, a 40% increase on the previous three-year period. The funding will be provided by the minister’s Department which is the lead for Ireland’s engagement with the WFP.

“I was privileged to visit the World Food Programme’s operations at the Kakuma Refugee Camp in northern Kenya, see their vital ongoing work and meet some of those living there. I also met with women involved in local projects in horticulture and fish processing.

“While in Nairobi, I met with members of government and visited projects in Nairobi supporting women’s empowerment in agri-food and a food waste project that is partnering with Food Cloud in Ireland,” the minister said.


On the Ethiopian leg of his visit, the minister earmarked €30m of the new funding commitment specifically for the Horn of Africa, a region of extreme need because of drought, conflict, and the ongoing impacts of climate change. He visited WFP operations in the Afar region in north eastern Ethiopia.

“The people of Afar face many challenges but, as well as hearing about the significant WFP food assistance programme there, I had the opportunity to visit farm projects in the region and to speak with smallholder farmers.

“I saw the use of irrigation canals to support the intercropping of maize and haricot beans. WFP’s mission is to save lives and to change lives and projects such as these can empower people to transition to self-sufficiency.”

Minister McConalogue’s trip was undertaken in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs, and he attended a number of St Patrick’s Day events.