UN calls for resolute work to uproot hunger  

By William Madouk Garang

The United Nations is calling for resolute efforts to address the root cause of food security and malnutrition in the country.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), UN Children Agency UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) during World Food Day celebration in Rumbek said South Sudan has ability of becoming ‘breadbasket’ but conflicts hamper it.

“Despite being dependent on food imports, South Sudan has enormous potential to produce food and become a ‘breadbasket’ of East Africa”.

“But with continuing sub-national conflict that is forcing people to flee their homes and disrupting livelihoods, the country finds itself in a recurring food crisis,” the statement said.

According to three UN agencies, multiyear flood events, persisting violence and economic shocks triggered worse levels of acute food insecurity that led to childhood malnutrition, disease and poverty.

Adeyinka Badejo, WFP Acting Country Director in South Sudan said that, ending hunger in South Sudan starts with ending sub-national conflict and tackling the climate crisis. 

“On this World Food Day, I call on all stakeholders to create conditions for peace and stability that will enable the Country and its population to prosper, to increase food production, to curb the level of hunger that is spiraling out of control, and to build resilience to climatic shocks” said Badejo.

According to the UN, food shortage in the country is alarming as hunger hit-record-high this year, with nearly 65% of the population – 7.74 million people are severely food insecure, with 2.9 million of those on the cusp of starvation and another 87,000 people staring hunger.

However, WFP said it is reaching over five million people with food assistance while supporting close to fifty thousand to produce their crops by providing training in ‘climate smart’ agricultural techniques and modern agronomic practices.

FAO cited that, it is providing emergency support to people in crises through the distribution of seeds, tools and fishing kits, as well as providing training and access to climate information.

“We need to make agriculture and agri-business an attractive option to ambitious young South Sudanese citizens,” said Meshack Malo, FAO Representative in South Sudan.

“FAO is supporting the formation of farming cooperatives and facilitating access to markets. Growth in the agricultural sector provides sustainable livelihoods, positively contributes to the national economy and helps reduce overdependence on imported foods,” added Malo.

Meanwhile, Hamida Lasseko, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan said “as the world is perpetually enveloped in climate-related, political and economic crises, we must double down on our efforts in South Sudan to address food insecurity”.

 “Children pay the highest price, and this is manifested in the alarming and increasing rates of severe wasting in children seen across the Country” Hamida said.

On 16th October, South Sudan joined the rest of the world to commemorate World Food Day under the theme, “Leave No One Behind”.  But the national celebration took place yesterday in Rumbek town of Lakes State.

The main objective of the day is to increase public awareness of long-term global food challenges and to develop further national and international solidarity in the struggle against hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

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