By Deng Machol
The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO), UN World Food Programme (UNWFP) and the UNICEF and plus the government released a report last week, indicating the number of acutely food insecure in South Sudan, has increased by 13 percent since January 2018.
The report released, which is called the “catastrophe phase” or the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC 5), says some 30,000 people in Jonglei and Lakes states, in eastern and central South Sudan respectively are already experiencing extreme food insecurity.
The report detailed how food insecurity has been driven by the cumulative effects of conflict, insufficient food production and associated population displacement in East Africa country, which displaced 4.5 million from their homes.
Mr. Isaiah Chol Arual, Chairperson of South Sudan’s National Bureau of Statistics, said fighting in the parts of the country continues to disrupt food production, deplete livestock and hinder people’s access to food sources like fish, livestock, and wild foods.
“Food security at household level has led to severe asset depletion as people try to raise income to purchase food. Even as they do this, the ongoing economic crisis has significantly reduced their purchasing power, particularly the most vulnerable populations who rely on purchasing highly priced foods from markets,” said Aruai.
The UN agencies in South Sudan stressed that there is urgently need to scale-up humanitarian assistance and better access to humanitarian relief.
South Sudan’s WFP, Acting Country Director, Simon Cammelbeeck said the general production this year will only meet inaudibly over half of the country’s needs.
He added that the WFP plans to preposition 175,000 tons of food in more than 60 warehouses ahead of the rainy season to reduce delivery costs.
“WFP will provide the most vulnerable people with a variety of support including live-saving food and cash distributions in areas where markets are working,” said Cammelbeeck.
The UN agencies also predicted that the humanitarian situation will get worse as more refugees and internally displaced persons are expected to returns to their homes due to the latest signed revitalized peace deal by the warring parties.
Meanwhile, the UNFAO representative, Pierre Vauthier said the FAO will provide seeds and fishing equipment to help returnees ‘by giving the means to the farmers, the fishermen, livestock keepers, to produce their own food, to generate their own market in their areas.’
Andrea Suley, Acting UNICEF Country Representative, hoped that the signed revitalized peace accord last year will give the UNICEF a chance to reach out to more children in the country.
“UNICEF and partners expect some 860,000 children across South Sudan to be acutely malnourished in 2019 – that is almost twice the number of people living in Juba. Thirty percent of these children will be severely malnourished with a high risk of dying,” said Suley.
Andrea Noyes, deputy head of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs in South Sudan, said all the required for access across the country for emergency support is paramount and mostly in need.
“To prevent more people from slipping into catastrophic conditions, humanitarian organizations need predictable assistance access across the country,” said Noyes. “The revitalized peace agreement offers us hope and improve access conditions.”
President Kiir and the key opposition leaders signed the peace accord on September 2018 in Addis Ababa, capital of Ethiopia, in an attempt to end the five years old conflict which killed nearly 400,000 people and displaced millions of the people.
Despite that there are still many parts of the country, like the southern town of Yei, where the insecurity thwarts aid groups from delivering life-saving services and food to the vulnerable people. Of recent, tens of thousands of South Sudan have been reported fled the Yei area, where inhabitants and UN agencies say that armed forces have killed civilians, raped women and burned entire villages.