UN calls for investing in sustainable and long-term solutions to build a famine-free future in South Sudan

The UN Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator, Reena Ghelani said that there is need to invest in sustainable and long-term solution to build a famine –free future in South Sudan.

By Benjamin Takpiny

The UN Famine Prevention and Response Coordinator, Reena Ghelani said that there is need to invest in sustainable and long-term solution to build a famine –free future in South Sudan.

“We can’t let people starve on our watch. I’ve seen how women and young people can produce their own food and become self-sufficient when provided with the right support. We must invest in sustainable and long-term solutions to build a famine-free future in South Sudan.” Ghelani said in a statement issued on Monday.

Ghelani was in South Sudan this week to meet with government officials, communities affected by the crisis and partners supporting the response.

During her mission, Reena Ghelani visited Bentiu, Unity State, one of the regions most affected by flooding with the highest prevalence of malnutrition.

Ghelani noted that despite the dire situation, resilience building projects using climate-smart agriculture have helped communities generate income and improve their lives.

Marie Helene Verney, the Acting Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan called for sustained support.

“South Sudan is on the frontline of climate change. Last year, one million people were affected by floods; many were forced to move elsewhere in the country, others have had to find new sources of livelihoods, often requiring a rapid change in centuries-old customs. South Sudan needs urgent access to climate funds for its people to find long-term solutions and adapt to the crisis,” she said.

In a joint statement issued by Reena and Verney on Monday said that the world needs to pay attention to the situation in South Sudan, where more than half of the population is going hungry. Climate change, conflict and economic hardship are pushing millions of people further into food insecurity.

It said that an estimated 1.6 million children (6 – 59 months) are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition from July 2023 to June 2024. At the same time, humanitarians are forced to halve rations and reduce their support due to funding cuts. 

“Extreme levels of food insecurity and malnutrition make South Sudan one of the worst food insecurity emergencies in the world. Already, about 25,000 people – including many of the refugees fleeing the conflict in Sudan – are experiencing catastrophic levels of hunger according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC 5), and the number could rise to nearly 80,000 in the next coming months unless urgent support is provided. A total of 7.1 million people (56% of the population) are experiencing high levels of food insecurity (IPC3+), the highest percentage in the world,” it said.

It added that the people of South Sudan are facing the cumulative and compounding effects of multiple inter-connected crises: insecurity and conflict – including the spillover effects of the crisis in Sudan, climate shocks such as flooding and localized drought-like conditions, and an economic crisis driven by currency depreciation and rising commodities prices. 

It said that in 2023, UN and partners received only 55% of the funding required to support those most in need, against about 75% in the previous years.

“The World Food Programme has been forced to prioritize resources to assist only the most severely food insecure households and even then families are only receiving half rations. As needs continue to outpace resources and with a deficit in coverage and development of basic social services, it’s critical that the Government of South Sudan commit to improving social systems and infrastructure that supports communities to find their way out of food insecurity”.

Humanitarian actors have estimated that 9 million people would need support in 2024. Of those, humanitarians plan to target 6 million people with life-saving support and require US$1.8 billion.

It noted that early funding is crucial to help people build resilience ahead of the lean season.                           

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