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Country Briefs

  South Sudan

Reference Date: 09-May-2017


  1. Famine declared in parts of former Unity State

  2. About 5 million people estimated severely food insecure until July 2017

  3. Crop production declined in 2016 due to insecurity and displacement of farmers

  4. Localized early season dryness and protracted insecurity affecting 2017 first season crops in southern bi-modal rainfall areas

  5. Food prices at exceptionally high levels

Famine declared in parts of former Unity State

According to the latest IPC analysis, localized famine conditions are currently reported in former Unity State, with a caseload of about 100 000 people in IPC Phase 5: “Catastrophe” in former Leer and Mayendit counties. In addition, there is an elevated risk that famine is occurring also in former Koch County, but it cannot be confirmed due to limited available evidence, while in former Panyijiar County famine has been avoided so far only through humanitarian assistance operations.

Nationwide, food insecurity has escalated during the last three years due to conflict, violence, macro‑economic collapse and exhaustion of households’ coping mechanisms. Between February and April 2017, about 4.9 million people, over 40 percent of total population, are estimated to be severely food insecure and this figure is projected to reach 5.5 million people at the peak of the lean season in July. Although most food insecure people are concentrated in the Greater Upper Nile Region, food security has drastically deteriorated in former Northern Bahr el Ghazal State and the Greater Equatoria Region.

Since the start of the conflict in mid‑December 2013, according to OCHA, about 3.8 million people were forced to flee their homes due to insecurity, including about 1.97 million IDPs, with about 217 000 people in UNMISS Protection of Civilians (PoC) sites across the country and 1.83 million people that fled into neighbouring countries (Uganda, the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia and Kenya).

Below-average crop production estimated in 2016 due to insecurity and displacements

Harvesting of the 2016 main season crops was completed in January. According to the preliminary results of the FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM), the overall production, including first season crops harvested last July/August, for 2016 is estimated at a below-average level of 825 000 tonnes, about 10 percent below the previous year’s output. Despite favourable rains across the country, except in the eastern Greater Kapoeta Region, crop production has been severely affected by increasing displacements and insecurity, following the renewed conflict in July, that disrupted agricultural activities, including harvesting. In particular, the area planted with second season crops in the “green belt” has been wellbelow the average, with most households being able to cultivate only small plots near homesteads, mainly with vegetables.

In southern bi‑modal rainfall areas, planting of first season crops, to be harvested from July, has just been completed. Seasonal rains had a timely onset in the third dekad of March. Subsequently, rains in April were average to above-average in the “green belt”, including former Central and Western Equatoria states. By contrast, in the former Eastern Equatoria State, accumulated rainfall in April was about 40 percent below average, with a negative impact on planting activities and on the germination of early-planted crops. According to the latest weather forecast by the Greater Horn of Africa Consensus Forum (GHACOF), rains in May will continue to be above average in southwestern and central areas and below average in southeastern parts. Agricultural activities continue to be affected by the protracted and widespread insecurity, which is constraining access to fields and is causing large-scale displacement of people, input shortages and damage to households’ productive assets.

Prices of cereals at exceptionally high levels

In the capital, Juba, prices of sorghum and maize declined in January 2017 by 3 and 7 percent, respectively, partly as a result of the harvesting of the 2016 second season crops in southern bi‑modal rainfall areas. In February, prices resumed their increasing trend, surging by 50-55 percent between February and April and reaching new record highs. Prices of other important food staples followed similar patterns, with wheat and cassava prices increasing by 45-56 percent between February and April and prices of groundnuts more than doubling over the same period. Overall, in April, staple food prices in Juba were between two and more than five times their levels in April last year, due to insecurity, a tight supply situation, hyper-inflation and a significant depreciation of the local currency.