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South Sudan: Conflict and Food Insecurity

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RELIEFWEB 16 04 2020

In South Sudan, projections indicate that 6.5 million people (56 percent of the population) could face acute food insecurity for the May to July 2020 lean season in the presence of planned humanitarian food assistance. This number could increase due to potential impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic hampering food imports and aid.

In 2019, the cropping season was only able to meet 63 percent of the projected cereal needs for 2020.

Since 2016, a prolonged macro-economic crisis continues to impact food insecurity as market prices are high, and the region will depend on markets for food supply during the peak of the 2020 lean season.

Due to years of conflict, South Sudan is unable to produce enough food products to support its population and currently imports half of its food needs.

Recent improvements in the security situation since the 2018 peace agreement and the expected positive impact on agricultural production have been overshadowed by localized drought and the presence of fall armyworm in early 2019 followed by widespread catastrophic flooding due to heavy seasonal rains.

In 2013, two years after South Sudan gained independence, political strife triggered an outbreak of violence in the capital of Juba.

The use of ethnic militia groups fueled cultural contention between tribes. It ignited several years of internal conflict, resulting in millions of internally displaced persons and refugees, rampant food insecurity, and severe malnutrition.

Although the country is rich in water sources and arable land, it continues to suffer from the residual impacts of the five-year conflict that stifled production and created barriers for development. Consequently, the population is dependent on imports and food aid and is often susceptible to widespread acute food insecurity.

For the May to July 2020 lean season, it is projected that over half of the country will be food insecure due to disrupted livelihoods, high food prices, food production shortages, and flooding.

Food security is further threatened in 2020 by a potential increase in desert locust swarm activity; however, the country may benefit from returning refugees driving an increase in planted area and yields and from improvements in traffic flow on the Nile.

The COVID-19 pandemic is also likely to impact food insecurity due to disruptions in food aid and commodity imports. The disruptions will increase market prices during the peak of the lean season, during which there is a heavy reliance on market supply of food items as many household stocks have been depleted.

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