United Nations Agencies Call for Reinforced Response to Tackle Rising Hunger and Malnutrition in South Sudan

JUBA, April 13, 2022 – Food insecurity is expected to increase by 7% across South Sudan in the coming months, compared to last year, according to a new UN food security report. United Nations organizations are renewing their call for more humanitarian and livelihood assistance to stave off looming hunger and build resilience.

Climatic shocks (floods and droughts), conflicts, economic downturn, displacement and disrupted livelihoods are behind the deteriorating food security trend with 7.74 million people (62.7 % of population) across the country facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worst levels of acute food insecurity during the lean season between April and July 2022, according to the latest integrated classification analysis food security phase (IPC).

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 localities include Fangak, Canal/Pigi and Ayod counties in Jonglei State; County of Pibor in the administrative area of ​​Greater Pibor; Cueibet and Rumbek North counties in Lakes State; and Leer and Mayendit counties in Unity State where a combined total of 87,000 people are projected to be acutely food insecure in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).

Recurring floods create new challenges

“FAO is concerned about the growing number of food insecure people due to the additional burden of heavy floods that have occurred in the country for the last 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 environmentally friendly agricultural 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 a challenge,” 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 projected total number of food insecure people in South Sudan has increased from 7.2 million in 2021 to 7.74 million in 2022. Three consecutive years of increased flooding, loss of livelihoods livelihoods, the destruction of agricultural land and livestock and the resulting displacement have aggravated the situation. severe hunger crisis that is overwhelming South Sudan, plunging millions into abject poverty as food becomes scarce and millions struggle 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 which indicate a continued deterioration in the food security situation and a sharp increase in the number of people facing hunger,” said Adeyinka Badejo, Acting Country Director of WFP in South Sudan. .

“The IPC 2022 report represents a successful and collaborative multi-stakeholder process led by the Government of South Sudan. Its findings compel us all to take urgent action to alleviate acute 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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