No Food for Half of Oil-Rich South Sudan Population


Human Wrongs Watch

Food shortages have worsened, with the number of South Sudanese without enough to eat rising from 3.3 million last year to 4.7 million currently, according to a new UN report. This figure represents more than 50% of the recently independent oil-rich country, estimated in less than 9 million.

*Image: Steve Evans | Wikimedia Commons

In fact, two United Nations agencies have warned that millions of people in South Sudan are facing worsening hunger and called for urgent action to improve food security through adequate food aid and projects to boost agricultural production, the UN informed.

World Food Programme (WFP) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), an estimated one million of those affected are facing severe food shortages, compared to 900,000 last year, according to the report, which was released on 8 Feb.

Based on the findings of a joint assessment mission that carried out surveys in South Sudan between October and November at the request of the country’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the report projects that “the number of people who are severely food-insecure could double if conflicts continue to cause major population displacements and food prices keep rising.

Poor Harvests, Hight Food Prices, Displacement…

Poor harvests, increased demand, rapidly rising prices, conflict, displacement and a large number of returnees have contributed to the food shortages, with a shortfall in cereal production weighing heavily on already distressed communities.

This is a rapidly approaching crisis that the world cannot afford to ignore,” said Chris Nikoi, WFP’s country director in South Sudan. “The situation is dire, and we are doing everything we can to be ready, but we are running out of time.”

George Okeh, head of the FAO office in South Sudan, stressed the need to enable households to have quick access to nutritious food and other basic necessities.

In order to restore and sustain food and nutrition security in South Sudan, we need to break the cycle of increasing hunger and poverty. We can do this by helping people to resume the farming, livestock and other activities that support their livelihoods.”

Low Cereal Production

According to the WFP-FAO assessment, South Sudan’s national cereal production last year was about 19 per cent below the previous year, and 25 per cent lower than average harvests over the past five years. The cereal deficit this year is estimated at more than 470,000 tons – almost half the country’s total annual consumption requirements.

Poor rainfall in the early season was largely responsible for the lower harvest, with ongoing conflict compounding the problem by disrupting normal agricultural activities.

The “Bloody Inter-ethnic Conflict”

The closure of border crossings between South Sudan and Sudan has also led to disruption of the usual supply of food to markets in South Sudan.

WFP’s emergency operation this year aims to reach some 2.7 million vulnerable people with 150,000 tons of food, and is seeking more donor support to cover a $160 million funding shortfall.

FAO is to provide agricultural support to revive production capacity for the next cropping season that starts with the onset of the rainy season in April. The agency is seeking $23 million in donor support through the UN Consolidated Appeal Process for South Sudan.

In a related development, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the UN has been monitoring the situation in Jonglei state, which has been in the maelstrom of bloody inter-ethnic conflict in recent months, with grave concern.

He said that the UN peacekeeping mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) will continue to support efforts to protect civilians and urged the international community to provide the required assets, particularly helicopters and other air transport capabilities.

I am also deeply concerned about the lack of progress in negotiations on post-independence issues,” Ban said of the strained relations between Sudan and South Sudan since the south became a separate State last July.

The unilateral decisions taken by both governments over their oil dispute, and their increasingly hostile rhetoric, could easily escalate militarily,” said Ban, noting that the breakdown in trust had hampered the delivery of relief to those in need, exacerbated food insecurity, created a refugee crisis and affected the possible return to South Sudan of 500,000 people from Sudan.

Enormous” Humanitarian Challenges

On 1 Feb. the UN relief chief underlined in his visit to this fledgling country the “enormity” of the humanitarian challenges facing South Sudan, highlighting the needs of returnees, an influx of refugees, internal displacement as a result of ethnic conflict and endemic poverty.

South Sudan faces significant challenges, including hundreds of thousands of people displaced in 2011, people returning from Sudan and refugees from the ongoing conflict in Southern Kordofan and Blue Nile states in Sudan,” said Valerie Amos, the Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs.

In addition, conflict, poverty, and increasing food insecurity are having a major humanitarian impact. The people of South Sudan need our support,” said Amos, who is also the UN Emergency Relief Coordinator, when she met with met with representatives from aid agencies in Juba, the capital.

South Sudan seceded from Sudan last July, becoming an independent country following a referendum where the overwhelming majority voted for self-determination, six years after a landmark peace agreement ended decades of civil war.

*Image: Steve Evans | Wikimedia Commons

Read also:

Does Anyone Know Anything About A New Country Called South Sudan?

South Sudan’s Population: Rural, Poor And Uneducated

South Sudan: Yet Another Kitchen-Garden?

Sudan – South Sudan: Oil and the Dragon

South Sudan: More Help Urgently Needed 

It’s War in South Sudan

A ‘Storm of Hunger’ Gathering on South Sudan

South Sudan Running Out of Food

Nile Countries’ Population to Increase by 68-80% … With Not One Single Drop of Water More

2012 Human Wrongs Watch


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