South Sudan is facing one of the worst food security and nutrition crises globally, as an estimated 7.2 million people are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity between now and July, aid agencies warned on Monday.
The Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), a multi-stakeholder regional forum chaired by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) said out of these, some 108,000 people are expected to be in Catastrophe phase (IPC 5) between April and July mainly in Jonglei, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Warrap States.
According to the FSNWG and FAO, the main drivers of food insecurity in the country are conflict, widespread flooding, COVID-19, and a protracted macroeconomic crisis.
The group said of particular concern is Pibor county where, according to the famine review committee, Gumuruk, Pibor, Lekuangole, and Verteth payams in the county are projected to face a “Famine Likely” situation while Kizongora and Maruwa payams will be at “Risk of Famine”.
The organizations said the nutrition situation also remains critical, as an estimated 1.4 million children under the age of five are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition through 2021. “Of these, about 313,000 are expected to suffer from severe acute malnutrition (SAM) and therefore face an increased risk of death,” FSNWG said.
FSNWG said that initiatives such as providing food and cash assistance, strengthening social protection systems, improving availability of and access to quality curative and preventive nutrition services should all be scaled up. The group also called for sustained advocacy to ensure continuity of essential health, nutrition, hygiene, and sanitation services.