About 7.7 million people to face acute food insecurity

By Taban Tom Henry

The latest integrated food security phase classification (IPC), report released yesterday indicates that about two-third of the South Sudanese population (7.76) million people are likely to face acute food insecurity during April-July 2023 lean season while 1.4 million children will be malnourished.

The IPC report released jointly by the Government and UN agencies yesterday indicated that 7.76 million (62.7% of the population) will be facing severe food insecurity (IPC phase 3+) between the period October 2022 to July 2023.

The food insecurity levels remain elevated due to the impact of the economic crisis, flooding and dry spells, low agricultural production, conflicts and insecurity according to the report finding.

In the current analysis period of October to November 2022, an estimated 6.64 million people (53.6% of the population are facing (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity, of which 2.22 million people are facing emergency (IPC 4).

An estimated 61,000 people are classified in catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in Fangak, Canal/Pigi and Akobo of Jonglei State; Pibor County in the Greater Pibor Administrative Area.

The report indicates that the Most food insecure states between October and November 2022 where more than 50% of their populations are facing crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity are Jonglei (68.0%) Unity (66.7%) Northern Bahr el Ghazal (61.9%) Upper Nile (58.5%) and Lakes state (56.9%)

Speaking during the release of the report yesterday, Minister of Agriculture and Food Security Josephine Lagu Yanga said the latest IPC findings continue to point a worrying situation.

She stressed that immediate scale-up of multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance is needed to save lives and prevent the total collapse of livelihoods in the affected counties, particularly those with high share of population in catastrophe IPC Phase 4.

“Urgent actions are required for people who are in crisis (IPC Phase 3) to protect their livelihoods and households-level food consumption gaps,” she said.

The report noted that most severe acutely food insecure populations are in locations with chronic vulnerabilities worsened by frequent climate related shocks (severe flooding and dry spells), the impact of the war in Ukraine, the Macro economic crisis, conflict and insecurity and the low agricultural production, among others.

These chronic vulnerabilities are found in 47 counties who are likely to be in emergency IPC 4. While 29 counties will likely be in crisis IPC 3 with only one county likely to be in stressed IPC 2 in the projection period of April- July 2023,”

Josephine underscored that these IPC findings are crucial for designing activities and targeting resources for affected communities.

“We [as government) have to prioritize peace building and the government has already taken active steps to do that, that’s why we have agreed upon extending the translational period to give us more time to stabilize the country,”

“If we can actually achieve peace across the country including the current areas where there are hotspots, you know we will be halfway really to addressing the issues of food insecurity, so peace building is paramount,” said Josephine.

The UN warned that hunger and malnutrition are on the rise across the flood, drought and conflict affected areas of South Sudan with some communities likely to face starvation if humanitarian assistance is not sustained and climate adaptation measures are not scaled up.

The food and agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned that the proportion of people facing high levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 crisis above) and malnourishment is at the highest level ever surpassing levels seen even during the conflict in 2013 and 2016.

The decline in food security and high prevalence of malnutrition is linked to the combination of conflict, poor macroeconomic condition, extreme climate events and spiraling cost of food and fuel.

“We have been in the famine prevention mode all year and have starved off the worst outcomes, but this is not enough. South Sudan is on the frontlines of the climate crisis and day in, day out families are losing their homes, cattle, and hopes to extreme weather. Without humanitarian food assistance, millions more will find themselves in an increasingly dire situation and unable to provide even the most basic food for their families,” Warned Mekena Walker Acting Country Director for WFP.

The FAO Country Representatives Meshack Malo said that unprecedented, multi-year flood sweeping the country is exacerbating already high levels of hunger caused by ongoing conflict and the global food crisis.

“Livelihood support is particularly needed to facilitate South Sudan’s self-reliance in food production. We know the potential exists as about 840,000tones of cereals were produced in 2021, during a difficult year with climate change, floods, conflict and other factors. With the current cereal deficit of 541,000tonnes, urgent investment in rural livelihoods is needed to increase production and self-sufficiency,” he said.

Meanwhile UNICEF Acting Country Representative to South Sudan Jesper Moller stated that there has been marginal improvement in the food security across some parts of the country.

He said all counties except one are showing a deterioration in their nutrition situation through June 2023, including 44 counties where the situation is deemed critical.

“Over the past three years, floods have dramatically affected an increasing number of people across South Sudan. Among those impacted, we find a growing number of food-insecure and malnourished children, which the international community cannot ignore. To effectively protect children from the effects of climate change, we must ensure we reach the most vulnerable children with an essential package of multi-sectoral social service interventions,” Moller said.   

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