Hunger and malnutrition are on the rise across the flood, drought, and conflict-affected areas of South Sudan, with some communities likely to face starvation if humanitarian measures are not scaled-up, the United Nations warned.
Two-thirds of the South Sudanese population (7.76 million people) are likely to face acute food insecurity during the April-July 2023 lean season while 1.4 million children will be malnourished.
The decline in food security and high prevalence of malnutrition is linked to a combination of conflict, poor macroeconomic conditions, extreme climate events, and spiralling costs of food and fuel. At the same time, there has been a decline in funding for humanitarian programmes despite the steady rise in humanitarian needs. The unprecedented, multi-year flood sweeping the country is exacerbating already high levels of hunger caused by ongoing conflict and the global food crisis. Central parts of the country, which are the most heavily impacted by multiyear flooding, are the areas with the highest levels of food insecurity. All counties except one are showing a deterioration in their nutrition situation through June 2023, including 44 counties where the situation is deemed critical.
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."
"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 Meshack Malo, FAO Representative in South Sudan.
"Over the past three years, floods have dramatically affected an increasing number of people across South Sudan," said UNICEF Acting Representative in South Sudan Jesper Moller. "Among those impacted, we find a growing number of food-insecure and malnourished children, which the international community cannot ignore..."
Resourcing for the 2023 humanitarian response in South Sudan is urgently needed within the next few months or agencies will be unable to preposition humanitarian assistance in time for the next year, leaving millions of families at risk of spiralling deeper into hunger.