Earlier the week, the UN declared famine in parts of South Sudan. The UN stated that the war and crippling economy has resulted in 100,000 people suffering from starvation in South Sudan. The severe food shortage crisis has been announced to be located in parts of Unity State in the northern-central part of South Sudan.
The World Food Programme (WFP) and other UN agencies estimated that a further 1 million people living in South Sudan are at high risk of famine and that unrestricted humanitarian access is urgently required in order to reverse what they called “an escalating catastrophe.”
According to a recent and updated Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report, around 4.9 million people, which is more than 40% of South Sudan’s population, are in desperate need of food, agriculture and nutrition assistance. In addition, the data that the IPC report was based on was collected over recent months, and they added that the amount of food insecure people is expected to increase to 5.5 million in July if urgent assistance is not provided in order to reduce the severity of the famine.
The IPC report found that acute malnutrition remains a major problem in South Sudan. Using recent information, they assessed 23 of the 86 counties and found that 14 have Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) at or above 15%. Mayendit had GAM levels of 27.3%
Serge Tissot, a FAO (The Food and Agriculture Organisation) representative in South Sudan stated,
“Famine has become a tragic reality in parts of South Sudan and our worst fears have been realised. Many families have exhausted every means they have to survive.”
Tissot continued to add, “The people are predominately farmers and war had disrupted agriculture. They’ve lost their livestock, even their farming tools. For months there has been a total reliance on whatever plants they can find and fish they can catch.”
Due to conflict last year, food production in South Sudan suffered and market failure has left the people of South Sudan struggling to cope with the massive change in price rises for basic food items.
Since an upsurge in conflict, humanitarian assistance from NGO’s has reduced the risk of famine in other regions of South Sudan, including Northern Bahr el Ghazal state, according to the IPC Report.
The WFP aims to provide humanitarian assistance, which includes emergency food, cash, and nutrition assistance to 4.1 million people this year, during the “hunger season,” which is when food from the last harvest has run out but new crops haven’t come in yet.
It is reported that the UK will provide South Sudan and Somalia aid packages of £100 million each after the announcement of famine in South Sudan and continued warnings of famine in Somalia. The UK’s humanitarian contribution is believed to help more than a million people, as it will provide food, safe drinking water and emergency healthcare in the regions worst affected by violence and drought.