Peace gradually combats food insecurity in S. Sudan
South Sudan is off to a promising start as United Nations affiliated agencies recognized the marginal improvement in food security issues brought about by peace, however this is not enough to address the starvation suffered by half of the country’s population.
A report from the World Food Programme cited that the recent improvement can largely be attributed to the Revitalized Peace Agreement (R-ARCSS), signed in September 2018. The decrease in armed conflict has encouraged the voluntary return of farmers, increasing access to livelihoods and improving markets. A more stable political environment has also allowed for improved delivery of humanitarian assistance to the most vulnerable populations.
“With political stability and sustained peace, South Sudan could quickly recover from the crisis and boost its food production,” said Meshack Malo, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), Representative in South Sudan.
The food security situation in South Sudan is expected to improve from now and towards the end of the year, as seasonal harvests become available. However, the UN agencies estimate that 4.5 million people will still face Crisis, Emergency or Catastrophe levels of food insecurity and will need assistance.
“The latest report goes to show that if you give peace a chance, you are likely to make food security a reality,” said Matthew Hollingworth, WFP’s Country Director in South Sudan. “Now is not the time to rest on our laurels as millions of people are still struggling to survive in the country. Rather, we need to re-double our efforts and maintain the gains that peace has enabled.”
According to an Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) update, released jointly by the Government of the Republic of South Sudan, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Program (WFP), 6.35 million or 54 percent of people in South Sudan are still severely food insecure.
The report estimates that 10 000 people are currently in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) and facing an extreme lack of food, while about 1.7 million are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and another 4.6 million people are experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) levels of acute food insecurity.
While the Greater Upper Nile region continues to be the most food insecure, followed by the Greater Bahr el Ghazal region, those in Catastrophe are in Yirol East of the former Lakes state and will need urgent humanitarian support to save their lives.
“The IPC findings are still alarming, but they also show that the revitalized peace agreement is bearing dividends and its full implementation is of utmost significance for the country,” said Malo. “FAO is working with returning farmers to assist them resettle, build their livelihoods and produce their own food,” He added.