The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP) have warned that more than 7 million people in South Sudan could experience severe hunger and food shortage in the coming months without improved access and a massive humanitarian response .
According to the three United Nations agencies, progress made to prevent people from dying of hunger could be undone, unless assistance and access to food were maintained.
The report comes one year after famine was declared in parts of South Sudan in February 2017.
“The situation is extremely fragile, and we are close to seeing another famine. The projections are stark. If we ignore them, we’ll be faced with a growing tragedy. If farmers receive support to resume their livelihoods, we will see a rapid improvement in the country’s food security situation due to increased local production,” said Serge Tissot, FAO Representative in South Sudan.
According to the report, improved access to food and a massive humanitarian response, succeeded in containing and averting famine last year in the country.
It however noted that despite this, the food insecurity outlook had now become severe.
The report from the UN agencies attributed the damaging impact of famine to prolonged dry spells, flooding and continued pest infestation, such as Fall Armyworm.
“The situation is deteriorating with each year of conflict as more people lose the little they had. We are alarmed as the lean season when the harvest runs out is expected to start this year much earlier than usual, Unless we can pre-position assistance rather than mount a more costly response during the rains, more families will struggle to survive.” said Adnan Khan, WFP Representative and Country Director.
Conflict and worsening hunger have also led to already soaring rates of malnutrition which could rise once the rainy season starts in April.
“We are preparing for rates of severe malnutrition among children never before seen in this country,” Without an urgent response and access to those most in need, many children will die. We cannot allow that to happen.” said Mahimbo Mdoe, UNICEF’s Representative in South Sudan.
Last year, FAO, WFP, UNICEF and their partners conducted more than 135 rapid humanitarian missions to over 1.8 million people in South Sudan.