Third of South Sudan at risk of severe hunger: UN
The United Nations is warning of potential starvation to be faced by areas in South Sudan amid various catalyzers.
Malnutrition and hunger are on the rise across South Sudan's areas affected by drought, flood, and conflict, with some communities potentially facing starvation in the absence of sustained humanitarian assistance and increased climate adaptation measures, the United Nations warned on Thursday.
About two-thirds of the South Sudanese population (7.76 million people) are liable to witness severe food insecurity during next year's April-July lean season, while 1.4 million children will be malnourished, the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) revealed.
The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warn that people facing high levels of food insecurity and malnourishment are at the highest level ever, surpassing levels witnessed even during the conflict in 2013 and 2016.
Conflicts, extreme climate events, poor macroeconomic conditions, and spiraling costs of food and fuel are the reasons behind the decline in food security and the high prevalence of malnutrition. Not only that, but the decline in funding for humanitarian programs despite the steady rise in humanitarian needs was also a reason.
"We've been in famine prevention mode all year and have staved off the worst outcomes, but this is not enough," Makena Walker, Acting Country Director for WFP in South Sudan, warned.
"South Sudan is on the frontlines of the climate crisis and day in, day out families are losing their homes, cattle, fields, and hope to extreme weather. 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."
The unprecedented flood sweeping the country is aggravating the existing high levels of hunger caused by the conflict and the global food crisis.
"Livelihood support is particularly needed to facilitate South Sudan's self-reliance in food production. We know the potential exists as about 840 000 tonnes of cereals were produced in 2021, during a difficult year with climate change, floods, conflict, and other factors. With the current cereal deficit of 541 000 tonnes, urgent investment in rural livelihoods is needed to increase production and self-sufficiency," said FAO Representative in South Sudan, Meshack Malo.
It is true that in some parts of the country, there have been some improvements in food security; however, the nutrition crisis across South Sudan is deepening, where deterioration in the nutrition situation has been reigning over most counties, and a critical situation is deemed in 44 counties.
"Among those impacted, we find a growing number of food-insecure and malnourished children, which the international community cannot ignore. To effectively protect children from the effects of climate change, we must ensure we reach the most vulnerable children with an essential package of multi-sectoral social service interventions," said UNICEF Acting Representative in South Sudan Jesper Moller.
"It's vital we receive commitments from donors for 2023 so we can prevent a worsening of the humanitarian situation across the country," Sara Beysolow Nyanti, United Nations Resident and Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, added.
Resourcing in South Sudan for the 2023 humanitarian response is urgently needed within the coming few months. Otherwise, agencies won't be able to act in time, which would leave millions of families at risk of drowning deeper into hunger.