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Gov,t UN warn of ‘catastrophic’ food shortages

Author: Jale Richard | Published: Saturday, December 19, 2020

Villagers collect food aid dropped from a plane in gunny bags from a plane onto a drop zone at a village in Ayod county, South Sudan, where WFP have just carried out an food drop of grain and supplementary aid on February 6, 2020 | Credit Tony Karumba/AFP via Getty Images

The government and three UN agencies say parts of South Sudan are facing “catastrophic” food shortages fueled by conflict.

Figures in Friday’s  Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) estimate indicate that between October and November, up to 6.5 million people in South Sudan faced severe acute food insecurity and require urgent assistance.

This number is projected to grow to 7.24 million between April and July 2021.

The Chairperson of the National Bureau of Statistics says the food security situation has deteriorated especially in the last two months.

“This is because of pockets of insecurity that have led to population displacement, low crop production because of climatic shocks such as floods and droughts,” Isaiah Chol Aruai said on Friday.

“The ongoing macro-economic crisis, the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, pests as desert locusts, and inadequate multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance. Compared to 2020, we estimate that the food security situation in 2021 will be worse because of the factors that I have just listed above.”

Last week, an IPC report indicated that tens of thousands of people are likely to face famine conditions in Pibor County.

It said many families are experiencing high levels of acute malnutrition and even mortality.

In another five counties of Akobo, Aweil South, Tonj East, Tonj North and Tonj South, some communities are said to be facing catastrophic conditions, the independent analysis found.

Around 1.4 million children aged between 6 months and 5 years are also expected to be acutely malnourished in 2021 and will need life-saving treatment, according to yesterday’s report.

This includes 313, 000 children suffering from severe acute malnutrition and more than a million children suffering from moderate acute malnutrition.

At the same time, 483, 000 pregnant or breastfeeding women are acutely malnourished and in need of treatment, it added.

The National Bureau of Statistics chairperson called on UN agencies to scale up assistance to help prevent the situation from worsening.

“In order to save lives and avert total collapse of livelihoods in the affected counties particularly those in populations in catastrophe IPC phase 5 and emergency IPC phase 4, there is an urgent need for immediate scale-up of multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance,” he said.

“Furthermore, urgent action is also required for populations in crisis IPC phase 3 to protect livelihoods and reduce food consumption gaps.”

Last month the UN earmarked 7 million US dollars in emergency funding to try to avert famine in South Sudan.

The World Food Organization, UNICEF, and UNFAO have called for a halt to violence to allow urgent access to parts of Jonglei state, where they said people have already run out of food because of insecurity, flooding and the coronavirus pandemic.

WFP said it has already begun scaling up its lifesaving food and nutritional assistance to critically food insecure areas in Pibor County as well as other areas of concern, extending its humanitarian response beyond the usual lean season and increasing the number of vulnerable people who need support.

UNICEF also said it will further scale up its interventions supporting therapeutic treatment and stabilization centres in the most affected counties to protect and save children’s lives.

On the other hand, FAO said its priority is to assist farming and agro-pastoral communities to increase their production and preserve their livelihoods.

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