JUBA – The number of people in southern Sudan in need of food assistance has more than quadrupled from almost 1 million in 2009 to 4.3 million this year because of conflict and drought, UN food agencies and Southern Sudan’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry said today.
“This spike in the number of hungry people in southern Sudan comes just ahead of the rainy season when roads become blocked and communities are cut off from food assistance,” said Leo van der Velden, WFP Sudan Coordinator in the south, adding that WFP is pre-positioning 50,000 metric tons of sorghum, pulses and vegetable oil to feed the millions who may be cut off when the rains start.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) plans to assist the hungry for between two and eight months in 2010, depending on how heavy the rainy season is, and the extent of food around in local markets. The aim is to ensure that families have access to sufficient food before the next harvest is due in October and November. WFP will also support school meal programmes for more than 400,000 schoolchildren and provide food for tens of thousands of conflict-affected families, returnees and refugees.
Southern Sudan Agriculture and Forestry Minister Dr. Samson Kwaje said Jonglei State has the highest number in need of food assistance. “Internal conflict and incursions from the Lord’s Resistance Army together with drought have made almost half the population of the South short of food,” he said.
The increasing needs of people living in southern Sudan are highlighted in an annual assessment, carried out in November last year by the Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the South Sudan Relief and Rehabilitation Commission and the South Sudan Commission for Census, Statistics and Evaluation, in cooperation with WFP and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The annual food needs and livelihood assessment was made by a team of 145 trained data collectors who fanned out across southern Sudan, collecting information from more than 2,000 households about what people eat, where they get their food from, and how they cope.
The assessment covered Eastern Equatoria, Jonglei, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Lakes, Upper Nile, Western Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap – seven of southern Sudan’s 10 states.
Conflict in 2009 killed 2,500 people and displaced 350,000 people from their homes in southern Sudan while drought slashed harvests so WFP started shifting from recovery and rebuilding to a more emergency-focused response from June 2009.
WFP has a current total shortfall of US$485.4 million to provide food assistance in 2010 to some 11 million people in need of food assistance across all of Sudan, including the South.
For further information:
Emilia Casella, WFP/Geneva, Tel. +41-22-9178564, Cell. +41-792857304
Jennifer Parmelee, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-6530010 ext. 1149, Cell. +1-202-4223383
Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-5566909, Cell. +1-646-8241112