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Country Briefs

  South Sudan

Reference Date: 17-March-2016


  1. Land preparation underway in Greater Equatoria Region as seasonal rains expected to start soon

  2. March‑May rains forecast at average to above‑average levels in most bi‑modal southern rainfall areas, while lower rainfall amounts expected in north

  3. Food prices still at record levels in most markets

  4. Despite recent harvest, number of severely food insecure people rising due to market disruptions and economic downturn

  5. Better access to pocket areas of starvation in southern Unity State needed to allow urgent delivery of humanitarian aid and avert deterioration of situation into famine

Land preparation ongoing in Greater Equatoria Region

Land is being prepared in most bi‑modal rainfall areas of Greater Equatoria Region as seasonal rains are expected to start soon. According to the latest meteorological forecast, March‑May rains are expected at average to above‑average levels in most southern bi‑modal rainfall areas, while lower amounts are expected in northern uni‑modal areas, especially in Greater Bahar el Ghazal Region and in northern parts of Unity and Upper Nile states.

Harvesting of the 2015 crops was completed in January and production is estimated at 920 000 tonnes, about 9 percent below the bumper harvest gathered in 2014, but still about 16 percent above the last five‑year average. Major reductions in cereal production are estimated in Western Bahr el Ghazal and Eastern Equatoria states due to unfavourable rainfall as well as in Western Equatoria State due to the disruption of cropping activities following worsening security conditions. Across the country, pasture conditions are seasonally deteriorating, in particular in Pochalla and Pibor counties in southern Jonglei State. However, they remain well above average levels in most pastoral areas of Eastern Equatoria, following abundant and extended rains at the end of last year.

Food prices still at record high levels in most markets

Despite the recent conclusion of the harvesting operations, sorghum prices in January were at record levels, between three and five times their levels of the same month of the previous year. Market activities have slightly improved in recent months in some conflict‑affected areas of Greater Upper Nile Region, but food supplies remain well below the pre‑crisis levels and food prices remain exceptionally high and volatile, largely influenced by the distribution of food aid. The spike in food prices at the end of 2015 coincided with the decision of the Central Bank to move from a fixed to a floating exchange rate regime that led to a devaluation of the local currency by about 84 percent.

In the capital, Juba, with an urban population of about 430 000, prices of cereals have reached all‑time records by the end of 2015. Both sorghum and maize grains were traded in December 2015 in the main wholesale market of Konyo Konyo at about SSP 12 per kg, between three and five times their levels of 12 months earlier. Similarly, wheat flour, mainly imported from Uganda and the Sudan, was traded at SSP 20 per kg in December 2015, more than three times its price one year earlier.

Severe food insecure population on the rise despite recently‑harvested crops

According to latest the IPC analysis, the number of severely food insecure people between January and March 2016 is estimated at 2.8 million, about 23 percent of the total population. Despite the availability of newly‑harvested crops, the number of food insecure people has increased by about 400 000 compared to December 2015. Most food insecure people are concentrated in conflict‑affected areas of the Greater Upper Nile Region, due to large displacements of population and disruption of local livelihood systems. Here, livestock has been often looted and high insecurity has limited access to humanitarian assistance. Pockets of starvation are still reported in some counties of Unity State. Food security conditions have also deteriorated in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Eastern Equatoria states due to reduced cereal production, trade disruptions and high market prices. Overall, food security is expected to continue to worsen in the coming months as a consequence of the general economic downturn, with declining purchasing power of households and rising prices due to the sharp devaluation of the local currency and high transport costs.

Since the start of the conflict in mid‑December 2013, over 2.3 million people have fled their homes, including about 1.7 million internally displaced and about 647 000 individuals currently hosted in neighbouring countries (Ethiopia, Uganda, the Sudan and Kenya) as refugees.