19 Mar 2019


Over 7 Million Could Become Severely Food Insecure

More than 7 million people in South Sudan - almost two-thirds of the population - could become severely food insecure in the coming months without sustained humanitarian assistance and access, three United Nations agencies and the government warned on Monday.

Over 7 Million Could Become Severely Food Insecure
UN Humanitarian Coordinator, Alain Noudehou (C) Isaiah Chol Ruai, chairman of National Bureau of Statistics (L) and serge Tissot, FAO Country representative (R) [Photo|Ojwe Lumara]

By Ojwe Lumara

JUBA, 27 February 2018 [Gurtong]-If this happens, this will be the highest ever number of food insecure people in South Sudan. The period of greatest risk will be the lean season, between May and July. Particularly at risk are 155,000 people, including 29,000 children, who could suffer from the most extreme levels of hunger, according to the United Nations agencies.

According to an Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report released on Monday, in January, 5.3 million people, or nearly half of the population, were already struggling to find enough food each day and were in "crisis" or "emergency" levels of food insecurity (IPC Phases 3 and 4).

This represents a 40 percent increase in the number of severely food insecure people compared to January 2017.

The report comes one year after famine was declared in parts of South Sudan in February 2017 which was contained by improved access and massive humanitarian response.

Last December, the UN and Government appealed for 1.72 billion dollars to respond for humanitarian needs this year, with only 5.5% funds received, the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator Alain Noudehou said.

To prevent the slide in to famine, he said sustained funding is expected from the donors.
The ongoing civil war should also stop according to Isaiah Chol Aruai, the Chairperson of the South Sudan National Bureau of Statistics.

“To come out of the situation, the best way is to stop the war. if there is peace, people would cultivate and produce. The countries in food insecurity are those in conflict, Chol said.

Overall hunger levels have risen due to protracted conflict that led to reduced food production and constantly disrupted livelihoods. This was further exacerbated by economic collapse, which impacted markets and trade, making them unable to compensate for the decrease in local food production.

"The situation is extremely fragile, and we are close to seeing another famine. The projections are stark. If we ignore them, we'll be faced with a growing tragedy. If farmers receive support to resume their livelihoods, we will see a rapid improvement in the country's food security situation due to increased local production," said Serge Tissot, FAO Representative in South Sudan.

In areas like Unity, Jonglei, Upper Nile, and Central Equatoria, riddled by reoccurring outbreaks of violent conflict and displacement, the proportion of people suffering from extreme food insecurity ranges from 52 to 62 percent - more than half the states' combined population. The number is expected to keep increasing unless people find the means to receive, produce or buy their own food.

According to the Crop Production Watch for last year, the crop production rate for Equotoria has reduced by 200,000 metric ton from 2014.

“This implies that lack of security contributes to food production. The areas of greater Bahr-el-Ghazal have remained stable in terms of food production since there is less conflict,” Mr. Noudehou said.

According to the IPC report, from February to April 2018, 6.3 million people in IPC Phases 3 ("Crisis"), 4 ("Emergency") and 5 (Catastrophe). This includes 50,000 people in IPC Phase 5.
In May to July 2018, 7.1 million people in IPC Phases 3, 4 and 5. This includes 155,000 people in IPC Phase 5.

Conflict and worsening hunger have led to already soaring rates of malnutrition. Without assistance, as of May, more than 1.3 million children under five will be at risk of acute malnutrition.


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