UN official says number of food insecure people in South Sudan may rise due to COVID-19

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Sudan Potrait

Matthew Hollingworth, the World Food Programme (WFP) Country Director for South Sudan, said Thursday South Sudan is bracing for a looming crisis with the number of people suffering from food insecurity set to increase before the new harvest comes in between May and July.

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification released in February estimates at least 6.5 million people to be food insecure at the height of the hunger season this year. Hollingworth disclosed that the situation will worsen in the aftermath of desert locust invasion and partial lockdown due to the outbreak of COVID-19 in the country.

“Food insecurity is also expected to worsen in urban areas. Most urban dwellers are either day laborers or earn their living in an informal economy. With restricted movement and lockdowns, their livelihoods will no doubt be disrupted,” he said.

“These families rely on vendors for food which is imported from the region and as imports reduce they may be forced to pay more for food,” added Hollingworth.

Hollingworth also admitted that South Sudan was already dealing with multiple crises, after years of conflict, drought episode in 2019, in addition to floods that decimated harvest in many rural areas since last year. He noted that the COVID-19 pandemic will only worsen an already dire situation.

He revealed that in densely populated urban areas, WFP will introduce cash and food distributions to small groups of people at a time, reducing the travel time to distribution points and ensuring social distancing and good hygiene.

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