Emergency Assistance Reaches 1.5 million in South Sudan

Emergency Assistance Reaches 1.5 million in South Sudan

21/09/2014

On Monday, FAO North America hosted Sue Lautze, FAO representative and UN Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, at a briefing about the crisis in the country. Since last December, the world’s youngest nation has been mired in conflict.  Political disputes in the government led to clashes and ethnic violence that displaced 1.3 million people and caused an additional 500,000 to flee to neighboring countries.

Dr. Lautze described the challenges agencies face to help the people in South Sudan, FAO’s newest member country. As a result of the crisis, the food insecure population has tripled, spiking at over 7 million people, 60% of the population, rendering them at risk of hunger and malnutrition. Delivering aid is hampered by lack of access due to violence or the country’s rainy season, which has left some 90% of roads in the conflict-affected states under water.

FAO has assisted 1.5 million people since the beginning of the crisis. Humanitarian action has measurable impact, including mitigating the risk of famine. Lautze described this important progress as encouraging but “fragile, partial, temporary and expensive”. As the country moves towards dry season later this year, much rests on the fate of the ongoing peace talks. Even under the best of political scenarios, however, extensive damage to market networks, limited production and restrictions on livelihood systems will see a return to increasing food and nutrition insecurity from early next year.

FAO, in close collaboration with other UN agencies and NGOs, has delivered assistance in the form of emergency kits and fuel efficient stoves. It has also been a leading voice on the food and nutrition security situation and has maintained a robust development programme. Crop kits provide a family with staples such as maize, sorghum, legumes and sesame, and the vegetable kits last up to 6 months, providing a varied and nutrient-dense diet. Notwithstanding the crisis, FAO in South Sudan is promoting capacity building and income generating activities in areas less affected by the conflict. Hundreds of people are being trained as animal health workers in their communities, and a recently concluded 3-month pilot program improved the skills of master trainers for pastoralist field schools.

FAO is appealing for immediate contributions totalling 50 million USD to continue the emergency response through 2014 and to purchase supplies for next year. This is an urgent request because tools, seeds, fishing supplies, animal health worker kits and other inputs need to be pre-positioned in the affected areas now, before the rainy season makes it extremely difficult and exceedingly expensive to do so. If this goal is met, she estimates FAO can more than double its current reach, assisting over 3.3 million people. With the sustained help of donors, FAO and its more than 50 NGO partners can help prevent the loss of another generation of South Sudanese to hunger and malnutrition.

Reflecting on the work of FAO in the crisis, Lautze said “I am incredibly proud of the 184 members of the FAO South Sudan team. They are delivering at a rate that is literally ten times faster than last year even as so many of them are managing the personal challenges of life in South Sudan today. Some have yet to be able to return to their homes since the beginning of the crisis. It is both inspiring and humbling in equal measure.”