UN agencies call for a strengthened response to fight against the increase in hunger and malnutrition in South Sudan

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JUBA, April 13, 2022 – Food insecurity is likely to increase by seven percent across South Sudan in the coming months, compared to last year, according to a new UN report on food security. UN agencies renew appeal for more humanitarian assistance and livelihood to avert the looming hunger and improve resilience.

Climatic shocks (floods and droughts), conflicts, economic downturn, displacement and dissociated livelihoods are driving the trend of deteriorating food security with 7.74 million people (62.7 percent of the population) across the country led to coping with crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse levels of acute food insecurity during the lean season between April and July 2022, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Classification (IPC) analysis .

The most affected states are Jonglei, Unity, Upper Nile, Lakes, Eastern Equatoria (Kapoeta East) and Warrap. More than 80% of the entire food-insecure population originates from these states.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP) warn that greater humanitarian aid and support for livelihoods are needed immediately to save lives and prevent the collapse of livelihoods in the most affected places in South Sudan.

These locations include Fangak counties Channel / Pigi and Ayod in Jonglei State; The Pibor County in Greater administrative Pibor; Cueibet and Rumbek North counties in the state of the lakes; and counties and Mayendit Leer in Unity State where a total of 87,000 persons should disaster (IPC Phase 5) acute food insecurity.

Recurring floods create new challenges

“FAO is concerned about the growing number of people food insecure because of the extra burden of heavy flooding that occurred in the country over the past three consecutive years,” said Meshack Malo, FAO Representative in South Sudan.

“To fight acute hunger, we need to produce more food where it is needed most. FAO will continue to provide seeds, tools and fishing kits to people in urgent need of assistance. We also need increased investment to enable us to find innovative ways to help South Sudanese farmers adapt to climate change so they can produce enough food to meet their nutritional needs,” added Bad.

In response to the floods, FAO helped vulnerable farmers build dykes and water channels, providing training on best environmental farming practices and post-harvest handling, and also encouraging increased use flood resistant food crops such as rice.

Children among the most affected by food insecurity

The IPC report shows that in 2022, an estimated 1.34 million children under five are expected to be acutely malnourished based on the results of SMART nutrition surveys, the Nutrition Surveillance System survey Food Security and Nutrition (FSNMS) and program admission trends.

Children in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity and Western Bahr el Ghazal states are the most affected.

Major contributing factors to acute malnutrition include the high prevalence of diseases such as diarrhea and inadequate infant and young child feeding practices due to a lack of dietary diversity and infrequent meals.

“As access to people in need improves through the peace process, we have made significant progress in treating severe malnutrition among children, but floods and other climate-related shocks leave more vulnerable children. More than 90% of children under five placed in therapeutic feeding programs recover fully, yet funding this lifesaving response is increasingly difficult,” said Jesper Moller, Acting Representative of the UNICEF in South Sudan.

Scaling up aid works

The latest IPC report shows that in Pibor, where WFP was able to scale up lifesaving food and nutrition assistance throughout 2021, the number of people in IPC phase 5 (disaster) fell from 33,000 in 2021 to less than 10 000 in 2022, showing the benefits of increased humanitarian food aid.

Despite this improvement, the total number of people expected to be food insecure in South Sudan has increased from 7.2 million in 2021 to 7,740,000 in 2022. Three consecutive years of increased flooding, loss of livelihoods, destruction of agricultural land and livestock and the subsequent displacement depth have the crisis of disastrous hunger engulfing South Sudan, pushing millions into abject poverty that food is scarce and millions struggling to survive.

Without consistent humanitarian and agricultural assistance to help communities cope and fight hunger by supporting those who grow their own food, serious humanitarian consequences are inevitable.

Urgent collective action needed to reduce hunger at peak of lean season

“We are extremely concerned by the findings that indicate a continuing deterioration of the situation of food security and a surge in the number of people facing hunger,” said Adeyinka Badejo, Acting Country Director of WFP in South Sudan .

“The 2022 IPC Report represents an effective and collaborative multi-stakeholder process led by the Government of Southern Sudan. Its findings urge us all to take urgent action to alleviate severe hunger and prevent further deterioration in the months to come, while simultaneously building resilience to future shocks,” Badejo added.

FAO, UNICEF and WFP are united in their call for increased funding to enable increased humanitarian assistance and stress the importance of continued implementation of the peace agreement to address the root causes insecurity across the country.

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