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Crisis in South Sudan
More than 1.5 million people have been displaced by violence in South Sudan since mid-December, including around 378 000 people who are sheltering in neighboring countries. The signing of a peace agreement on 9 May between the warring parties raised hopes of a return to stability; however, the security situation remains tense with sporadic fighting concentrated in Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei states.
Around a third of South Sudanese are now food insecure, and the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis carried out in May 2014 indicates that food security has deteriorated at an alarming rate since the outbreak of the conflict. 3.5 million people are now facing crisis or emergency levels of food insecurity and the risk of famine later in 2014 must now be taken into consideration.
Despite continued constraints to humanitarian access, FAO is scaling up operations 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. As the rainy season commences (beginning in March and fully underway by june), time is running out to pre-position supplies in strategic hubs before rains cut off large parts of the country.
There are signs of an major impending food security crisis as food reserves are exhausted in areas isolated by the conflict and markets in Juba and other towns see soaring prices for staple foods (sorghum) and run out of key commodities (powdered milk, sugar). Abandonment and looting of livelihood assets, disrupted agricultural cycles, constraints to aid access, collapse of local markets, disruption of commodity supply corridors and the risk of a missed planting season (March-July) are raising concerns of worsening food availability and access problems throughout 2014 and into 2015.
In the worst-hit states (Upper Nile, Jonglei, Unity, and Central and Eastern Equatoria), FAO 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 Lakes), FAO will focus on protecting and boosting food production by improving local availability of quality seed and planting materials and facilitating technology transfer through farmer field schools.
Riverine communities, particularly IDP populations that are likely to face repeat displacement as flooding accompanies the rainy season, will particularly benefit from FAO’s provision of fishing kits (twine, nets, etc.) to facilitate fish capture, storage and marketing. Urban gardening will be promoted among IDP and host community populations, along with the use of vouchers to link small-scale vegetable, fish and milk producers with nutritionally vulnerable people.
The risk of livestock disease outbreaks has been heightened by the conflict as the cold chain system for vaccine storage and distribution has been hard-hit by looting and lack of maintenance, 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 raising concerns about increased cattle raiding.
FAO is distributing vaccines and veterinary supplies to enable rapid preventative vaccination campaigns, while (re-)equipping and retraining community 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 the need to farm, fish and protect their livestock. Under the UN and partners’ Revised South Sudan Crisis Response Plan (June-December 2014), FAO is seeking USD 108 million to provide urgent assistance to around 3.3 million people. A further 150 000 households are receiving support under FAO’s existing resources.
FAO’s response programme has been made possible thanks to the generous support from the Governments of Belgium, Canada, Denmark, Norway, the United Kingdom, the United States of America, the Africa Solidarity Trust Fund, the European Union's humanitarian aid (ECHO), the UN’s Common Humanitarian Fund and additional allocations of unearmarked funding by FAO.