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Country Briefs

  South Sudan

Reference Date: 23-March-2023


  1. Dire food security situation, with almost two‑thirds of total population (7.76 million) estimated to face severe acute food insecurity between April and July

  2. Cereal production in 2022 estimated at about 936 000 tonnes, 12 and 16 percent up from 2021 and five‑year average

  3. Below‑average precipitation amounts forecast between March and May over southern bimodal rainfall areas

  4. Exceptionally high food prices constraining access to food for large number of households

Dire food security situation due to multiple shocks

Since early 2023, the seasonal deterioration of the food security situation has been compounded by protracted macroeconomic challenges resulting in high inflation, insufficient food supplies and livelihood losses due to consecutive years of widespread floods.

According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, about 7.76 million people (almost two‑thirds of the total population) are estimated to face IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) or worse levels of acute food insecurity during the lean season between April and July. The highest prevalence of severe acute food insecurity is reported in the states of Upper Nile, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Jonglei, including Pibor Administrative area, and Unity, where between 70 and 77 percent of the population is estimated to be severely food insecure, including about 43 000 people facing IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe) levels of acute food insecurity in Jonglei and Unity states.

After the ceasefire signed in 2018, the security situation has generally improved and, until December 2022, about 627 000 displaced people returned to their places of origin, including about 151 000 in 2022. However, the situation remains volatile, and organized violence at subnational level in Greater Upper Nile Region since August 2022 resulted in the displacement of about 20 000 people.

Currently, about 2.2 million people remain internally displaced, and 2.27 million refugees are residing in neighbouring Uganda, the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Kenya.

Increased cereal production in 2022

According to preliminary findings of the 2022 FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM), the aggregate cereal production in 2022 is estimated at about 936 000 tonnes, about 12 percent up from the 2021 output and about 16 percent above the average of the previous five years.

Cereal production benefited from average to aboveaverage amounts and an even distribution of precipitation during the second half of the season, from July 2022 onwards, which boosted yields, and by an 8 percent increase in planted area compared to the previous year due to improved security conditions. However, floods in lowlying areas and episodes of intercommunal violence caused localized production shortfalls.

Compared to 2021, production increased by 1025 percent in Western Bahr el Ghazal, Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, Warrap, Upper Nile, Jonglei and Lakes states, while it decreased by 17 percent in Unity State and by 5 percent in Northern Bahr el Ghazal State, mainly due to floods.

The overall cereal deficit in the January/December 2023 marketing year is estimated at 485 400 tonnes, about 10 percent lower than the deficit estimated for 2022 and similar to the 20182022 average. Despite the yearonyear decline, the cereal deficit is still substantial, with the net production in 2022 representing only about twothirds of the estimated cereal requirements in 2023.

Below‑average rains forecast between March and May over southern bimodal rainfall areas

In central and northern unimodal rainfall areas, the rainy season normally starts in May, while in southern bimodal rainfall areas of Greater Equatoria Region the onset of seasonal rains occurs in April.

According to the latest Greater Horn of Africa Climate Outlook Forum (GHACOF) weather forecast, rains between March and May are expected to be below average across most of southern bimodal rainfall areas, likely affecting germination and establishment of first season crops, to be harvested from July.

Food prices at exceptionally high levels

In the capital, Juba, between June and September 2022, prices of maize surged by 65 percent, while prices of sorghum doubled, as the exchange rate substantially depreciated and prices of fuel more than doubled over the same period, inflating transport costs. The sharp increase in fuel prices reflected the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine on international oil prices. Prices of coarse grains increased by 1520 percent between October 2022 and February 2023, the rising trend easing due to the commercialization of newly harvested 2022 crops. In February 2023, prices of maize and sorghum were about twice the high values of one year earlier.

Prices of sorghum in February 2023 were at exceptionally high levels also in other markets across the country. In Rumbek (Lakes State), Gogrial (Warrap State), Bor (Jonglei State) and Aweil (Northern Bahr el Ghazal State), prices were between two and three times their yearearlier values.

The high levels of cereal prices are mainly due to insufficient supplies, low foreign currency reserves, a weak national currency and high fuel prices. Further upward pressure was exerted by reduced imports from neighbouring Uganda, where exportable surpluses shrunk in 2022 following a reduced cereal production.

Disclaimer: The designations employed and the presentation of material in this information product do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of FAO concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or of its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The dashed lines represent approximate borderlines for which there may not yet be full agreement. The final boundary between the Republic of the Sudan and the Republic of South Sudan has not yet been determined. The final status of the Abyei area is not yet determined.

This brief was prepared using the following data/tools:

FAO/GIEWS Country Cereal Balance Sheet (CCBS) .

FAO/GIEWS Food Price Monitoring and Analysis (FPMA) Tool .

FAO/GIEWS Earth Observation for Crop Monitoring .

Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) .