By Opija Raduk
An estimated 6.96 million people from South Sudan are likely to face acute levels of food shortage by the end of July 2019.
An Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) update released by the Government of South Sudan in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) reveals.
The report says that an estimated 21,000 people might face a catastrophic lack of food access, while about 1.82 million would face Emergency. Another 5.12 million people would face levels of food insecurity.
“The hunger season coincides with the rainy season and that’s a perfect storm in South Sudan,” says 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.” He advises.
Compared to last January’s forecast for the period May – July 2019, 81,000 more people than originally projected are worse, particularly in the Jonglei, Lakes, Unity and Northern Bahr el Gazel states.
According to Sibanda, the ongoing lean season started early following record low stocks from the poor 2018 harvest and has been further extended by the delayed onset of 2019 seasonal rains.
Sibanda observes that combined with persistent economic instability, the effects of previous years of conflict and related asset depletion have disrupted livelihoods. Population displacements have also reduced people’s ability to access food.
The WFP’s country director attributes high food prices to last year’s poor harvests, market disruptions due to insecurity and high transport costs. A depreciated currency too is contributing to the high levels of acute food insecurity.
“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,” says Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan.
“But malnutrition levels remain critical in many areas and we fear that the situation could worsen in the coming months.”
Ayoya says to salvage the crisis, UNICEF, FAO, and WFP have put in place some measures.
The report shows that UNICEF and partners will further scale up services during the lean season to reach more children affected by severe malnutrition. This will be done by expanding its programming through two key methods.
In areas with good humanitarian access, a long-term presence on the ground will allow UNICEF and partners to stay and deliver. Integrated Rapid Response missions will be used to reach people in insecure and inaccessible areas.
More than 100,000 children affected by severe malnutrition are expected to be reached during the peak lean season.
As part of its response, WFP will provide up to 5.1 million people with a variety of support, including life-saving food and cash distributions in areas with working markets, food in return for work on the construction and rehabilitation of community assets, food for school meals, and special products for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition among children, and pregnant or nursing women.
FAO will be providing new varieties of seeds suited to local conditions and training in techniques aimed to reduce losses from drought and flooding.
The organization will also support 800,000 vulnerable farming, fishing and agro-pastoral households with vegetable and crop seeds, agricultural tools and fishing equipment. Contacts: firstname.lastname@example.org,email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org.