south sudan

Acute food shortage looms in South Sudan

As the world faces a global hike in the prices of food occasioned by the Russia-Ukraine war, more than half of South Sudan’s population may experience acute food shortage in the 2023 April-to-July Lean season, agencies of the United Nations have said.

What could be responsible for acute hunger?

In a joint statement, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization(UNFAO), the United Nations Children Emergency Fund(UNICEF), and the World Food Programme(WFP) said about 7.8 million South Sudanese; the equivalent to two-thirds of the total population of the country may face the worst food shortage recorded in the country since the civil war in 2013 and 2016.

The UN agencies attributed the possible cause of the looming food shortage to flood, drought, and conflict that has resulted in social and political instability in the country.

“The decline in food security and high prevalence of malnutrition is linked to a combination of conflict, poor macro-economic conditions, extreme climate events, and spiraling costs of food and fuel,” the agencies said. The report also indicated that “there has been a decline in funding for humanitarian programs despite the steady rise in humanitarian needs”   

Isn’t this a cumulated effect?

Yes, it is. Since the start of the year, news emanating from South Sudan has centered on natural and conflict-induced disasters with UN agencies calling for humanitarian aid and support. The news has mostly centered on food insecurity, children’s malnutrition, and acute starvation.  

In June, the World Food Programme reported that it was forced to suspend some food aid to South Sudan. Also, in August, an estimated 7.7 million people were reported to have suffered severe food shortages in South Sudan between the April-July harvest periods.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, OCHA, more than one million people were affected by torrential rain and flooding at the end of October.

A call for help

Acting Country Director of WFP in South Sudan, Makena Walker revealed that “South Sudan is on the frontline of climate crisis and day in day out, families are losing their homes, cattle, fields, and hope to extreme weather” warning that “without humanitarian food assistance, millions   more will find themselves in an increasingly dire situation and unable to provide even the most basic food for their families.”

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