Almost 7 million people facing critical lack of food
The number of people likely to face acute food insecurity in South Sudan by the end of July has risen to the highest level yet, with an estimated 6.96 million people – 61 per cent of the South Sudanese population – affected, UN agencies have warned.
According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), by the end of July, 21,000 people will face a catastrophic lack of food access.
Another 1.82 million people will be a step away from catastrophic food insecurity. Further, over 5 million people will face Crisis levels of food insecurity.
About 81,000 more people than originally estimated in a January forecast for May to July are facing Crisis levels of food insecurity or worse, particularly in Jonglei, Lakes, Unity and Northern Bahr el Ghazal.
Poor harvest in 2018 meant that the lean season – when people do not have enough food stocks to eat – started earlier this year. Delayed seasonal rains, that came in late May, compounded the situation. South Sudan’s harvest is largely dependent on rains.
Persistent economic instability, the impacts of previous years of conflict, and related asset depletion and population displacements have added to the disruption of livelihoods and reduced people's access to food.
“This update to the IPC reveals that much more work needs to be done. The recovery of food production and increased yields in South Sudan are reliant on the maintenance of peace, and must be given a chance,” said Meshack Malo, the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Representative in South Sudan.
“With greater stability in the country, access to those in need has improved, allowing us to treat more than 100,000 children suffering from severe malnutrition in the first five months of the year, with more than 90 per cent of those children recovering,” said Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan. “But malnutrition levels remain critical in many areas and our fear is that the situation could worsen in the coming months.”
“The hunger season coincides with the rainy season and that’s a perfect storm in South Sudan,” said Ronald Sibanda, WFP’s Country Director in South Sudan. “As we ramp up our response, the race is now against time and nature – we must act now to save the lives and livelihoods of the millions on the brink of starvation.”
The three UN agencies called for effective implementation of the late-2018 revitalized peace agreement to allow scaled-up humanitarian assistance and to boost agricultural production across the country.