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South Sudan: More than half the country struggles to survive despite improving conditions in South Sudan

Source: World Food Programme Country: South Sudan
Sharp increase in children suffering from acute malnutrition 11 September 2019, JUBA – In spite of a slight improvement in the food security situation since June 2019, more than half the population of South Sudan – some 6.35 million people – do not know where their next meal will come from, three United Nations agencies warned today. 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 #39;s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP), 54 percent of South Sudanese 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. Peace can improve access to livelihoods, markets and humanitarian assistance Although the food security situation is very severe, 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. 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 Meshack Malo, FAO Representative in South Sudan. “FAO is working with returning farmers to assist them resettle, build their livelihoods and produce their own food”. All-time-high levels of acute malnutrition Despite slight improvements in food security, the number of children suffering from acute malnutrition will hit 1.3 million – the highest number recorded since the country gained independence. The number represents a 51 percent increase from the projection at the beginning of the year. “The increase in acute malnutrition among children in South Sudan tells us how complex malnutrition is but also how much longer it takes rebuilding a country, compared to shattering it,” said Mohamed Ag Ayoya, UNICEF Representative in South Sudan. “To tackle malnutrition there must be a shift from treatment to prevention, that includes not only proper food security, promotion of breastfeeding and nutrition counselling, but also access to clean water, proper hygiene, and health care. Only then can we give the children the best start in life.” Persistent high levels of hunger 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.” Responding to the crisis FAO is providing starter kits that consist of crop seeds suited to local conditions, agriculture tools, fishing equipment and cash-based interventions with the goal of closing the food gap for some 1 million farming households. Additionally, FAO is carrying out extensive animal vaccination and treatment to support livestock keepers, protect their livelihoods and open market opportunities. Additionally, FAO is carrying out extensive animal vaccination and treatment campaigns targeting around 7 million animals to support livestock keepers, protect their livelihoods and open market opportunities. UNICEF is scaling up access to treatment of severe acute malnutrition. Currently UNICEF is supporting over 800 Outpatient Therapeutic Programme (OTPS) centers across South Sudan, screening and treating children, pregnant and breastfeeding women suffering from acute malnutrition. In 2018, the average recovery rate in OTPs were 88 percent. Moreover, UNICEF will scale up its promotion of exclusive breastfeeding the first six months, and educating caregivers on infant and young child feeding practices to prevent malnutrition. Strong collaboration with the WASH and health sectors tackling some of the root causes for malnutrition continues to be a priority for UNICEF. WFP and partners have responded with food and cash distributions in the worst-affected areas and has so far this year has reached some 3.9 million vulnerable people. With enough resources, WFP will provide up to 5.1 million people with a variety of support including life-saving food and cash distributions in areas with working markets, food in return for work on the construction and rehabilitation of community assets, and food for school meals. Of this, WFP will provide special products for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition to some 1.6 children, and pregnant or breastfeeding women. Related links: _Photos from South Sudan here._ _Full IPC Assessment here._ About the IPC report: The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report is a collaboration between the Government of the Republic of South Sudan in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children #39;s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Food Programme (WFP). Find more information about the IPC classification system here


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