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UN predicts danger in South Sudan

By Bida Elly David

UN food and agriculture agencies have warned of a deepening crisis in South Sudan, saying that the situation may worsen without immediate action and investment in resilience.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), and the World Food Programme (WFP) leaders sounded the alarm during wrapped up of a three-day visit to the country.

In a joint press statement seen by No. 1 Citizen Daily Newspaper, the Rome-based UN food and agriculture agencies said any inaction to address the calamities would result in loss of lives.

The leaders stated that South Sudan is currently facing severe food crises, climatic issues, and an insecurity rate that needs to be urgently addressed.

“The cost of inaction in addressing South Sudan’s complex food, climate, and insecurity crises will be felt in the loss of lives, livelihoods, and futures for millions of people across the young nation,” the joint statement partly reads.

The Director-General of the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), Qu Dongyu said South Sudan is a Country that would not have been struggling to feed its citizens with its ample resources.

According to Qu, South Sudan would have been a breadbasket for the East Africa region if infrastructure, insecurity, and other calamities were addressed.

“South Sudan has the potential to be the breadbasket of East Africa, but the climate crisis, poor agriculture infrastructure, instability, and economic shocks continue to disrupt agricultural and livestock productivity and food availability,” he said.

Qu further added that “investments and enabling policies that will improve longer-term food security, resilience, and climate adaptation are urgently needed.”

Meanwhile, Alvaro Lario, the president of the Rome-based International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said the food security sector in South Sudan is under threat as most families practice subsistence farming to survive.

He added that 4% of farmland is being cultivated across the country, where 80% of its young people live in rural areas.

“There is enormous opportunity to grow and develop agriculture and the food sector more generally. To do this, we need to mobilize massive investments and implement best practices to combat food insecurity and adapt to climate change. This will also greatly improve rural employment. But we need to act now,” said Lario.

For her part, Cindy McCain, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, said the ongoing crisis in South Sudan has directly affected the World’s position in terms of food security.

Cindy urged South Sudan to break the cycle of starvation and empower communities to plant seeds of hope, opportunity, and economic development.

“Conflict, climate change, and soaring costs in South Sudan are causing some of the highest levels of hunger in the world. But just handing out food isn’t the solution,’’ Cindy echoed.

She stated that “With peace and stability, the potential of South Sudan is incredible. However, WFP doesn’t even have the resources needed to feed those who are hungry today; we need the world to step up.”

During the visit, the leaders of the UN agencies traveled to Aweil, in Northern Bahr El Ghazal, where they met community members who have been impacted by climate events, including floods and prolonged dry spells.

The visit of the agencies top leaders came after the joint UN report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023 found that 122 million more people are suffering chronic malnourishment since 2019.



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