By Sharon Atieno
In the next four months, starting from April to July, six out of 10 people (an estimated 7.74 million) in South Sudan will likely face high acute food insecurity, if urgent action is not taken, a new report cautions.
According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPS) report, the most hit counties experiencing worse levels of food insecurity will be Fangak, Canal/Pigi and Ayod counties in Jonglei State; Pibor County in Greater Pibor Administrative Area; Cueibet and Rumbek North counties in Lakes State; and Leer and Mayendit counties in Unity State.
Additionally, the report notes that the most severe acute food insecurity conditions are present in locations that are characterized by serious vulnerabilities that have been exacerbated by shocks such as severe flooding, droughts, sub-national and localized violence, and the effects of the ongoing macro-economic crisis, among others.
Between February and March 2022, 36 counties across the country were classified in
Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity and 40 counties were classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity, with only two counties classified in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity.
However, In the period of April to July 2022, which is the lean season, 52 counties are classified in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity, 23 counties are classified in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity, and three counties are classified in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) acute food insecurity.
Further, the report notes that food insecurity in South Sudan is driven by climatic shocks (floods, dry spells, and droughts), insecurity (caused by sub-national and localized violence), population displacements, persistent annual cereal deficits, diseases and pests, the economic crisis, the effects of COVID-19, limited access to basic services, and the cumulative effects of prolonged years of asset depletion that continue to erode
households’ coping capacities, and the loss of livelihoods.
In the wider Intergovernmental Authority for Development (IGAD) region, drought conditions are expected to prevail in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia as the rains are likely to fail for a fourth consecutive season, according to IGAD ‘s Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC).
ICPAC notes that the first month of the March to May (MAM) 2022 season was particularly dry, thus, the region recorded higher temperatures and less than normal rainfall.
“The MAM rains are crucial for the region and, sadly, we are looking at not just three, but potentially four consecutive failed seasons,” said Dr Workneh Gebeyehu, IGAD’s Executive Secretary, said in a press conference. “This, coupled with other stress factors such as conflicts in both our region and Europe, the impact of COVID-19, and macro-economic challenges, has led to acute levels of food insecurity across the Greater Horn of Africa.”
The Food Security and Nutrition Working Group, co-chaired by IGAD and United Nations’ Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), estimates that over 29 million people* are facing high levels of food insecurity across the IGAD region.
“Already, 15.5 to 16 million of our sisters and brothers are in need of immediate food assistance, due to the drought. This is 6 to 6.5 million in Ethiopia, 3.5 million in Kenya, and 6 million in Somalia. In the southern-central part of Somalia, the situation is catastrophic, with 81,000 people at risk of famine,” explained Dr Workneh Gebeyehu.
Dr Guleid Artan, ICPAC’s Director, added that “the severe shortages in water and pasture are leading to smaller food production, significant losses in livestock and wildlife, and a rise in resource-based conflict in the region. On the outlook, our early warning systems and indicators show the situation worsening in the coming months”.
In a statement, IGAD is calling on member states, donors, and humanitarian partners to increase their emergency response in the affected countries immediately in order to avoid further worsening of the humanitarian crisis.
Dr Workneh Gebeyehu said “we have to act NOW on the basis of a “no regrets” approach”. He further stated that “livelihood programs must scaled up to protect the lives and livelihoods of our farmers, agro-pastoralists, and pastoralists. This will help support their recovery and self-reliance in the immediate and medium-term.”