South Sudan

South Sudan

Read more about FAO in emergencies and the crisis in South SudanThe livelihoods and food security of up to 90 percent of the population in South Sudan depend on farming, fishing or raising livestock. A thriving agriculture sector is therefore crucial to long-term peace and development in the country, yet it is currently in the midst of one of the world’s worst humanitarian and food security situations.

Famine was declared in February 2017, although contained just months later thanks to massive humanitarian support. However, food insecurity remains at extremely high levels: more than half of South Sudan’s population is severely food insecure according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), which estimates 6.1 million people experienced crisis or worse levels of food insecurity in August–September 2018. Mass population displacements, economic slowdowns and adverse climate conditions such as droughts and floods have only exacerbated an already dire situation.

Despite continued constraints to humanitarian access, FAO is acting to meet the two-fold challenge of responding to urgent needs triggered by the current crisis, while continuing vital livelihood protection and support programmes in less-affected states. Through a mixture of immediate assistance to the most vulnerable communities and longer-term support to build the capacity of local, state and national Government institutions, FAO is helping to strengthen food security and build sustainable, agriculture-based livelihoods in South Sudan.

Safeguarding farmers against fall armyworm

Fall armyworm was first reported in South Sudan in June 2017 in Eastern Equatoria, and within two months had spread to several locations in all three regions of the country. Feeding on up to 80 crop species but with a preference for South Sudan’s prominent maize and sorghum, the pest is further compromising an already precarious food security situation.

With the ability to travel hundreds of kilometres per day, fall armyworm has the potential to spread quickly across the country, devouring crops and reducing yields. Like many countries in Africa, South Sudan had no opportunity to prepare for the fall armyworm influx.

As time is of the essence, FAO in collaboration with South Sudan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security swiftly mobilized funds for a fall armyworm strategy and awareness campaign. FAO is promoting effective and efficient control interventions, setting up committees to strengthen national surveillance and monitoring systems and playing a critical role in fall armyworm response through coordinated action across Africa.

Farmers are at the frontline of the infestation but currently lack the skills to correctly identify or manage it. Reductions in crop yields could be averted if systems are set in place and farmers receive urgent awareness raising, training and support.

Protecting livestock to safeguard livelihoods

Livestock are an important social and economic asset in South Sudan. However, endemic diseases (such as haemorrhagic septicaemia, contagious bovine pleuropneumonia, anthrax, peste des petits ruminants, and recently Rift Valley fever) are undermining livestock production, threatening the livelihoods of 65 percent of South Sudan’s population.

The current conflict has caused abnormal levels of migration, heightening tensions between herders and settled farmers and increasing instances of disease outbreaks. Local and national capacities to monitor, control and respond to these diseases is severely limited. To address this, FAO is working closely with the relevant national ministries and local institutions to ensure a reliable and stable supply of veterinary drugs and vaccines to safeguard livestock production. The national cold chain system is being supported with equipment, regular maintenance and training for staff in order to protect drugs and vaccines, and local community-based animal health workers are provided refresher training on necessary veterinary services.

Boosting yields through improved seeds

Levels of crop and vegetable production in South Sudan remain low. As is the case in much of eastern Africa, farmers rely heavily on rainfed crop production – meaning erratic or delayed rains can result in poor or no harvests, while heavy rains and flooding can waterlog fields and destroy stocks. Conflict and mass displacement continue to force farmers from their fields during key times in the planting season. FAO has been working with South Sudan’s farmers to strengthen crop production in spite of these challenges.

Yields are constrained by a lack of availability and access to quality seeds and planting materials. Most farmers in South Sudan use seeds they have saved from a previous season or acquired through their social networks. FAO works on two fronts to increase the availability of quality inputs. First, the most vulnerable farmers (particularly those in conflict-affected areas and female-headed households) are provided with quality seeds and tools through seed fairs or direct distribution, along with training in good agronomic practices. To date, FAO has supported nearly 2.7 million people with tools and a total of 4 800  tonnes of agricultural seeds during the main planting season so that they can increase cereal production.

Second, FAO supports resilience building through farmer field schools, particularly in areas less affected by the ongoing crisis. Seed multiplication is also promoted in these areas, where selected farmers are provided with quality seeds and trained in production, conditioning, storage and marketing. Local quality assessment councils are set up to ensure the seeds produced are of good quality.

Improving fisheries production

Fisheries can provide an immediate source of food for vulnerable populations, especially in remote areas affected by conflict. FAO’s support to fisheries not only improves the availability of fresh, protein-rich food, but also boosts income generation. Each fishing kit distributed gives a family access to enough food for about six months, either through household consumption or through market sales. FAO is therefore helping crisis-affected people to rebuild their livelihoods and ensuring food availability for the community.

Enhancing food security information and analysis

Crop and livestock activities are extremely sensitive to climate and weather conditions, which in turn affect national food security as over 90 percent of production depends on rainfall. Early warning is key to equipping farming communities and policy-makers with the knowledge they need to improve production and food security programming across South Sudan.

In South Sudan, FAO is strengthening national capacities for food security data collection, analysis and coordination through support to the IPC, resilience analysis, livestock and conflict analysis, crop assessments and market monitoring. Food security monitoring teams from FAO and partners regularly gather essential data related to livelihoods, food access and availability, consumption patterns and nutrition. Widely analysed and disseminated, the data are critical in providing an accurate picture of the evolving food security and livelihood situation, helping to focus assistance on communities that need it most.

Local food production is increasingly important, as markets have been severely disrupted by economic shocks and insecurity. Close monitoring of weather conditions is vital in guiding agricultural planning and operations, which are in turn critical for informing timely livelihood support, resilience programming and targeted food assistance. FAO is supporting relevant Government institutions to enhance the collection, analysis and reporting of agrometeorological information in order to produce a stream of data, for example on precipitation levels, temperatures and wind speeds. FAO has been systematically identifying and categorizing existing meteorological equipment in South Sudan, rehabilitating existing equipment, installing new rain gauge equipment, and training local government focal points in maintenance and data collection.

If the current drivers of food insecurity worsen through the end of 2018, and in the absence of additional humanitarian assistance, there is a heightened risk of famine in certain areas.



More about the country

 - The Early Warning Early Action (EWEA) report on food security and agriculture is developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). It more
 - The complete series of IPC maps of South Sudan since 2014 after the beginning of the conflict. Check the list of IPC maps of the country. more
 - IPC acute food insecurity situation overview in South Sudan since 2014. Click on the pies for more details and check the list of IPC maps of more
 - IPC acute food insecurity situation overview in South Sudan from 01/05 to 31/07/2019. Click on the Counties for more details.
 - IPC acute food insecurity situation overview in South Sudan from 01/02 to 30/04/2019. Click on the Counties for more details.
 - IPC acute food insecurity situation overview in South Sudan from 01/01 to 31/01/2019. Click on the Counties for more details.
 - Nearly 7 million people in South Sudan could face acute food insecurity at the height of this lean season (May-July), three United Nations agencies warned today, more
 -  to assist 434 175 people FAO requires USD 34 million period January – December 2019                                 South Sudan’s protracted conflict remains the largest contributing factor to internal displacement and exodus of refugees into more
 -  to assist 4.8 million people FAO requires USD 75 million period January – December 2019                                 Years of conflict and significant economic deterioration have left South Sudan in the grip of serious food more
 - The situation in the eight places in the world with the highest number of people in need of emergency food support shows that the link between more