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President Kiir appeals for UN support to tackle food insecurity

By Gladys Fred Kole

President Salva Kiir Mayardit appeals to United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to support South Sudan’s bid to develop a robust agricultural system to improve food production.

The president appealed on Tuesday, during a meeting with a high-level delegation of the Rome – based U.N Agencies, on visit to the country.

The delegation comprised FAO’s director general, Qu Dongyu, President of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), Dr. Alvaro Lario, and World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director, Cindy McCain.

In the wake of the visit, aimed at assessing and exchanging views on humanitarian concerns, the president called for concerted efforts to tackle the challenges of food insecurity in the country.

IFAD president, Dr. Alvaro Lario told the media after the meeting that their visit is to strengthen joint efforts towards improving food production, through new technologies and new investments.

In a joint report, the delegation called for immediate action and investment in resilience needed to avert food crisis.

The Rome-based UN food and agriculture agencies also recommend for greater investments in South Sudan to avoid a catastrophic food crisis.

They warn of a deepening crisis in South Sudan without immediate action and investment in resilience.

On traveling to Aweil, in Northern Bahr El Ghazal, the delegation reportedly met communities affected by climate events, including floods and prolonged dry spells.

Some of the communities are participating in UN projects to strengthen resilience, mitigate the impacts of climate events, and boost food production.

They also witnessed the inauguration of Aweil rice scheme project, a research center aimed at testing rice varieties to revamp the historical Aweil rice production.

Last month, FAO, FSC and WFP reported that the overall food security situation has worsened across South Sudan due to compounding shocks, including flooding, ongoing conflict, displacement, and cost of living.

The impact is expected to result in another year of livestock and crop losses and has eroded the livelihoods and coping strategies of vulnerable communities across the country.

“Over half of South Sudan’s population (63%) is experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity. Parts of South Sudan continue to face the highest levels of food insecurity since the country declared independence 12 years ago,” the UN agencies said.

According to the 2023 Humanitarian Response Plan, an estimated 7.76 million plus Abyei (187K) people in the country are in need of food security and livelihood support, including 3.3 million children.

The latest report projected that from April to July 2023, over 7.7 million people were to face high levels of acute food insecurity and over 2.9 million people will be in emergency acute food insecurity.

These levels are expected to remain elevated in most areas between October 2023 and January 2024, during which some people are likely to continue to experience emergency food insecurity.

“An estimated 737,812 pregnant and lactating women and 1.4 million children under the age of five in South Sudan will likely suffer from acute malnutrition over the course of 2023,” it added.

An estimated 6.1 million women, girls, men, and boys will be or are facing protection risks and violations in 2023, with 3.1 million children urgently in need of immediate lifesaving and life-sustaining protection services.

Approximately 1 million children are in need of mental health and psychological services (MHPSS), with 2.8 million school-age children already out of school. Several more thousand are expected to leave school to find ways to help themselves and their families survive due to drastic food insecurity.

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