26 Jun 2019

 

FAO Warns of Food Crisis Escalating in South Sudan

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, FAO has warned that the number of people experiencing the level of food crisis continues to double, in South Sudan bringing the country once again to the brink of a major hunger crisis.

By Margaret Lole

Nairobi, 09 February 2015 [Gurtong]
- In the agency’s latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, IPC report released on the 6 of February, an additional 3.9 million people are in a state of food security Stress, some of whom are likely to slip into Crisis and Emergency if livelihood support, security and markets fail.

“Missed crop cycles in conflict-ravaged parts of the country mean we’re now expecting household food stocks in the worst-affected counties to run out by March 2015 – much earlier than in a normal year,” said FAO Country Representative in South Sudan Sue Lautze.

The FAO report, which details the varying levels of food insecurity across South Sudan, focuses on the UN’s concern, noting that 2.5 million people or, one-fifth of the population – classify as being in either “Crisis” or “Emergency” level food insecurity while an additional 3.9 million are suffering from food insecurity “Stress.”

According to the report, the main projections and observations for January to March 2015 in the worst most hit areas during the conflict are;

Upper Nile State continues to be severely affected by the ongoing conflict, with high concentrations of IDPs, as well as some refugees from Blue Nile State in Sudan. The food security outlook remains poor. The September 2014 IPC report projected that in the January to March 2015 period, 43 per cent of the population would face food insecurity at Crisis and Emergency levels, mainly due to exhaustion of household food stocks and presumed resumption

In Unity State, many markets have been destroyed and looted during fighting, which is still ongoing in some areas of the state. Little or no commodities remain in markets, and prices of available food commodities are not affordable to many in the local community. 34 per cent of households did not cultivate staple crops in the 2014 season due to the conflict. For those that did cultivate crops, the harvest was small and staple food stocks were likely to run out by the end of January 2015.

The IPC update concluded that in Jonglei State, eight out of 11 counties are classified as Crisis and Emergency phases. Out of these eight, Nyiror, Uror and Akobo are likely to receive adequate humanitarian assistance. However, the four counties of Fangak, Canal/Pigi, Ayod and Duk will remain in an Emergency phase mainly because of the existence of military frontlines, which means it is unlikely that adequate humanitarian interventions can be implemented successfully during the projected period.

States without active conflict – Warrap, Lakes, Western and Northern Bahr-el Ghazal, and Western, Central, and Eastern Equatoria – have great potential to produce enough food to sustain the rest of the country, but a lack of infrastructure, inputs and technology are among a myriad of factors that currently limit productivity.

The FAO has urged donors to provide an additional 32 million USD in funding in order to maintain and expand its current operations on the ground while also providing the agency with resources to procure supplies for the coming year.

“We have to continue to invest on two tracks. One, provide humanitarian aid to prevent the most affected areas from sliding into greater crisis and, two, boost food production and local economies in the more stable areas, so they can support recovery in other parts of the country.” According to FAO’s Country Representative in South Sudan Sue Lautze.

The coordinated, large-scale efforts of a wide network of agencies, donors and partners, including FAO, have been crucial in preventing 12 conflict-affected states from deteriorating from Crisis to Emergency levels of food insecurity. Food security and livelihoods in these areas depend heavily on the ability of humanitarian agencies and partners to deliver planned interventions, and continued support is essential.

Counties on the frontlines of violent conflict remain in Emergency phase, with humanitarian agencies struggling to make robust assistance plans amidst uncertain access to affected areas. Without better access, FAO fears affected communities could be trapped in Emergency conditions until the next harvest, starting in August 2015. Says the report.


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