GIEWS Country Briefs

South Sudan PDF version    Email this article Print this article Subscribe FAO GIEWS RSS  Share this article  

Reference Date: 04-June-2014


  1. The rainy season started favourably, but crop prospects in conflict-affected areas are uncertain following displacements and loss of assets

  2. The food security outlook expected to deteriorate until August, especially in conflict-affected states

  3. About 3.5 million people are severely food insecure and in need of urgent humanitarian assistance

  4. Protecting crop production capacity in less affected areas is vital to country food security in 2015

  5. Scaling-up the humanitarian response is urgently needed to mitigate the humanitarian crisis

Favourable seasonal rains were received so far, but conflict and displacement are expected to negatively impact on 2014 cereal production in parts

The 2014 first rainy season (March-July) started on time at the beginning of March, favouring land preparation and planting activities of the first season crops in the uni-modal rainfall areas of the Greenbelt in Central and Western Equatoria.

Satellite-based precipitation estimates and vegetation analysis (see figures) indicate that in most cropping areas, rainfall amounts received so far were well above average in most cropping areas of the country, allowing for favourable planting conditions in uni-modal rainfall areas. By contrast, significant moisture deficits were observed in the southeast, in most agro-pastoral areas of Eastern Equatoria State (especially in Greater Kapoeta) and part of southern Jonglei state (Bor and Pibor Counties), with negative effects on vegetation and pasture conditions which may delay planting activities and hamper normal livestock movements from dry season grazing areas.

Despite the good rainfall performance, conflict-affected areas of Upper Nile, Unity and Jonglei States are faced with serious difficulties as planting and cultivation activities have been severely disrupted. Some planting activities are reported where farmers have minimum security, but overall significant reduction in planted areas is expected. However, in the bi-modal rainfall areas of Western and Central Equatoria States, an FAO assessment carried out in April 2014, indicated that planting of first season cereal crops, for harvest in August and September, was completed under normal circumstances with no discernible negative effects on timely access to farmland. Currently, a similar crop planting assessment is ongoing in the Greater Bahr El Ghazal region to monitor the overall grain production in this critical season.

The number of severely food insecure people expected to increase until August

According to the latest Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) analysis (May 2014), about 3.5 million people (over 30 percent of the total population) are considered in acute food insecurity and livelihood crisis (IPC Phases 3, “Crisis” and 4, “Emergency”), more than double than one year before. About 2 million severely food insecure people are concentrated in the three most conflict-affected states of Upper Nile, Jonglei and Unity, where between 50 and 85 percent of the population is in need of urgent action to protect and save lives and livelihoods. The major factors driving the dramatic deterioration in food security conditions include large population displacements, disruption of local livelihoods and reduced income opportunities, losses of assets and food stocks, malfunctioning of markets leading to high food prices, exacerbated cattle rustling and difficulties to deliver humanitarian aid due to insecurity. Since the start of the conflict in mid-December 2013, over 1.3 million people have fled their homes including 1 million people internally displaced and about 350 000 people that are now hosted in neighbouring countries as refugees.

Between June and August, as the lean season deepens, food security conditions are expected to further deteriorate, especially in the three most conflict-affected states and the number of people in crisis or emergency food insecurity levels is expected to increase by about 10 percent, up to 4 million. In August, the onset of the green harvests of maize and sorghum, even with likely reduced planted area, will be crucial to prevent that most vulnerable households in the emergency phase would face famine-like conditions.

The timing and scale of the humanitarian response will be crucial in order to prevent that the South Sudan crisis deteriorates into a catastrophe by the end of the year. On 20 May the international donor community met in Oslo, Norway and pledged over USD 600 million in new funding for South Sudan to be added to previous estimated requirements for aid operations in 2014 of about USD 1.8 billion. By 23 May about USD 589 have been raised.

Humanitarian access is limited by unstable security conditions and check points with limited coverage by NGOs. The delivery of humanitarian assistance is also becoming very expensive due to impassable roads due to heavy rains and increasing reliance on air lifting/dropping, including for emergency livelihood kits (crop seeds, vegetable seeds, fishing gear and veterinary kits). In addition, humanitarian assistance capacity is limited by the number of aircrafts and barges against competing needs by different humanitarian actors.

Relevant links:
 As of Jul 2014, included in the list of "Countries Requiring External Assistance for Food"
 Earth Observation Indicators
 Seasonal Indicators
 Vegetation Indicators
 Precipitation Indicators
 Graphs & Data
 NDVI & Precipitation
 Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) Reports & Special Alerts: 2014, 2013, 2012
From FAO:
 FAO Country Profiles

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