South Sudan, World’s Newest Country, Faces Hunger Crisis

Published on 15 December 2011
South Sudan is facing a severe hunger crisis due to a combination of factors, including erratic rains, market disruption and an increase in demand for food from returnees and displaced people. Copyright WFP/ Challiss McDonough

South Sudan is facing a severe hunger crisis, and WFP is scaling up operations to provide food to more than 2.5 million people in 2012. Due to poor infrastructure, more than half of the country is cut-off during the rainy season, so WFP needs to position food stocks in many areas by March.

ROME -- Born just five months ago, the world’s newest country is facing a severe hunger crisis. Soaring food and fuel prices, rising poverty and growing insecurity are hitting vulnerable families hard and pushing up to a third of the population into hunger.

South Sudan’s growing food problems are due to a combination of factors, including erratic rains and market disruption caused by border closures. There is also a higher demand for food in the region than a year ago. Some 360,000 people have returned to the newly independent nation to begin new lives and more than 300,000 people have been displaced as a result of tensions in border areas.

“A gathering storm of hunger is approaching South Sudan, caused by crop failure and market disruption,” said WFP Country Director Chris Nikoi.  “Food prices have already doubled or tripled in some areas, leaving hundreds of thousands of children vulnerable to malnutrition at a key developmental stage of their young lives”

WFP is aiming to provide emergency assistance to 2.7 million hungry and conflict-affected people next year.  As part of the operation , it will provide highly nutritious supplementary foods to more than 500,000 children, pregnant women and nursing mothers.

Getting the right food and nutrition to children in the first thousand days of life is essential because it ensures their minds and bodies are able to develop  as they should.

In addition to emergency assistance, the South Sudan operation will help communities and families become more self-sufficient and productive. One of the key tools here will be Food-for-Assets activities, in which people receive food assistance as they work on community projects, such as irrigation schemes, which will make their communities more food secure. Learn more

These projects lay the groundwork for other projects to build longer-term resilience in communities across South Sudan.

Working in South Sudan can be challenging. The poor road infrastructure, combined with conflict and the presence of landmines, often makes it difficult to transport humanitarian aid such as food assistance to needy communities.

WFP needs resources to move food into place before the rainy season begins in March or April, since up to 60 percent of the country is cut off once the rains start. Around US$262 million will be needed to address hunger needs in South Sudan in 2012 . Currently there  is a funding shortfall of around US$205 million.
 

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Challiss McDonough

Public Information Officer

Challiss is a Public Information Officer for Eastern, Central and Southern Africa. She is based in Nairobi, after having spent two years with WFP in Afghanistan.