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  MARCH 11, 2011
Loma Linda Works for Food Security in Southern Sudan

Loma Linda University School of Public Health will be participating in a three-year project focused on food security in Southern Sudan, funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The agency has granted $50 million to a consortium of nonprofits and universities for the Southern Sudan Health, Nutrition, and Empowerment program.

Operating in the three southern states of Upper Nile, Warrap, and Northern Bahr el Ghazal, the program partners aim to improve the health and nutrition of vulnerable women as well as children under the age of five. The program will encompass health and other community facility assessment, workforce development, empowerment of women, and reductions in malnutrition and disease prevalence.

The project’s lead agency is Adventist Development and Relief Organization (ADRA) and other partners, in addition to Loma Linda, are Johns Hopkins University, Concern Worldwide, Food for the Hungry, and Malaria Consortium. These organizations will also work with local NGOs operating in the region.

Loma Linda’s role in the project is to participate in the health facility assessment and to develop a geospatial information system that integrates environmental and socioeconomic data with the locations of infrastructure such as health- and community-based facilities.

Years one and two of the project entail vast collection of field data, which Loma Linda will then process and integrate into a food security geodatabase and map. The school’s health geoinformatics unit team, led by Mr. Seth Wiafe, will create the architecture of this information management system. Additionally, Dr. Sam Soret, chair of Loma Linda’s department of environment and occupational health, will serve as a geographic information systems analyst.

Year three will involve testing and further development of the system, then creating a maintenance plan that will allow the program to be updated and used by USAID, ADRA, and their partners once Loma Linda’s involvement ends.

Loma Linda geoinformatics students will have the opportunity to be involved in the project and may even use it to fulfill their field practicum requirements.