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Crisis in South Sudan

Crisis in South Sudan

South Sudan is facing unprecedented levels of food insecurity, as nearly 6 million people – about 50 percent of the country’s population – are severely food insecure. According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, this is the highest number ever recorded in the country. The outlook for the remainder of 2017 remains dire. 

Food shortages, a deepening economic crisis, insecurity and insufficient agricultural production at household level have caused increased levels of food insecurity and alarming levels of acute malnutrition. Conflict has spread to new areas, further disrupting livelihoods and increasing the occurrence of displacement (over 3.8 million people have fled their homes since the outbreak of violence in 2013).

Instability and conflict have had devastating impact on food security, hampering agricultural activities and causing large-scale displacement, resulting in poor harvests. Food access is further constrained by the soaring costs of staple foods – as of August 2017 the prices for maize and sorghum were nearly double what they were in 2016, and 12 times higher than in 2015.

While famine has been contained since it was declared in some areas of Unity in February 2017, the IPC warns that the situation remains critical and the risk of famine persists, especially in isolated areas where conflict and other factors can quickly and dramatically increase. Some 45 000 people are estimated to be experiencing catastrophic conditions. Going forward, ensuring humanitarian access will be critical.

FAO's work

FAO and partners’ efforts in humanitarian assistance have reduced the number of people in Crisis and Emergency Phases. However, adverse weather, insecurity and insufficient funding continue to hinder deliveries. FAO will continue to scale up its support to both respond to urgent needs triggered by the current crisis, as well as continue to protect livelihoods and uphold programmes in less-affected states.

As part of FAO’s Emergency Livelihood Response Programme for 2017, in areas worst-affected by insecurity (Central and Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, Lakes, Unity and Upper Nile), the Organization is focusing on distributing emergency livelihood kits (including crop and nutrient-dense vegetable seeds and minimal-harm tools), while in calmer states (Northern and Western Bahr el-Ghazal, Warrap and Western Equatoria), FAO is concentrating on protecting and boosting food production by improving local availability of quality seed and planting materials and facilitating technology transfer through farmer field schools.

The risk of livestock disease outbreaks has been heightened by the conflict as the cold chain system for vaccine storage and distribution has broken down, and non-traditional livestock movements lead to the intermingling of vaccinated and unvaccinated herds. Unusual livestock movements and concentrations also risk worsening tensions between pastoral and farming communities, as well as raise concerns about increased cattle raiding.

FAO is distributing vaccines and veterinary supplies to enable rapid preventative vaccination campaigns, while equipping and retraining community-based animal health workers to provide basic, on-the-move health care to migrating herds. Distributions are ongoing and FAO is ensuring that conflict-affected populations have what they need to farm, fish and protect their livestock.

FAO’s response programme has been made possible thanks to the generous support from the Governments of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, the European Union, Germany, Norway, the Swiss Confederation, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the World Bank, the UN’s Common Humanitarian Fund and additional allocations of unearmarked funding by FAO.

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