Juba, South Sudan – Close to 7 million people in South Sudan face a food crisis due to erratic rains during the lean season.
“An estimated 6.96 million people will face a food crisis or worse outcomes through the July/August peak of the lean season in the presence of planned humanitarian food assistance. Among those in need, an estimated 21,000 people in Canal/Pigi of Jonglei, Cueibet of Lakes, and Panyikang of Upper Nile are in urgent need of food aid. In several counties of Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr el Ghazal, ongoing humanitarian assistance is preventing more extreme outcomes, though a risk of famine persists in South Sudan,” an update on the food situation in South Sudan released by the Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET) on July 30th said.
The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 28 countries.
The release by FEWSNET goes on to say that a survey conducted in April by Medair found a Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) prevalence, as measured by weight-for-height z-score (WHZ), of 14.3 percent (10.8-18.6). This is somewhat higher than the GAM (WHZ) prevalence of 12.2 percent (9.2-16.0) recorded at the same time last year, though statistically similar. In Renk, SMART surveys conducted in May and June found a GAM (WHZ) prevalence of 24.4 percent (C.I. N/A) among IDPs and 32.1 percent (27.4-37.2) among the local population.
However, FEWSNET adds that the ongoing implementation of the September 2018 peace deal and lower conflict in Greater Bahr el Ghazal and Greater Upper Nile has supported greater household movement, the recovery of trade flows and markets functioning, and to some extent improved household engagement in typical livelihood activities. Additionally, relative calm has enabled the return of displaced populations. Data from IOM indicates that an estimated 500,000 displaced people have returned to their places of origin in South Sudan since the signing of the September peace deal, 210,000 of whom were refugees in neighboring countries. This has increased the return rate from roughly 18,000 people per month in 2018 through September to roughly 76,000 per month after September. Despite this, an estimated 1.9 million people remain internally displaced.