South Sudan refugee camp | Action Against Hunger

Millions food insecure in South Sudan this World Food Day

As the world comes together to mark World Food Day, in South Sudan an estimated four million people are food insecure as the conflict continues.

By Leah Oatway

Oct 16 2014

World Food Day was established 35 years ago today to strengthen solidarity in the fight against hunger. As people in countries worldwide prepare to mark the day in a variety of ways, we focus our attention on South Sudan.

The United Nations Security Council has declared South Sudan site of the world’s worst food crisis. The conflict that began in South Sudan in December 2013 has forced 1.7 million people to flee their homes in search of safety. More than 400,000 of these have crossed the border, becoming refugees in neighbouring countries. 

Not only are they having to start again from scratch, they are doing so with few resources, if any at all. In Ethiopia, there are more than 160,000 South Sudanese refugees , at least 47,000 of whom live in the Leitchor refugee camp, in the country’s west.
 
Nutrition and food security are urgent priorities. Conflict and floods due to the rainy season have disrupted markets, livelihoods, livestock, and crops. 

There are hardly any functioning roads in South Sudan during the rainy season, so our logistics team must use helicopters to transport our staff and supplies in order to help. These logistical constraints make South Sudan one of the most expensive places to provide assistance.
 
Despite the challenges, Action Against Hunger has responded in the five most vulnerable states of South Sudan - Unity, Jonglei, Upper Nile, Warrap and Northern Bahr El Ghazal. We are working in both conflict states as well as chronic emergency states to address the increasing needs of the people of South Sudan.

Meet Nyaguni and Thokat, who hope to return to South Sudan with their children.

Chronic Emergency Programs in Warrap and Northern Bahr El Ghazal

Even before the conflict, children in Warrap and Northern Bahr El Ghazal states were suffering from chronic malnutrition. 

Our stabilization centres, which treat severely malnourished children, have already treated eight times as many children this year as in 2013. Admissions to our therapeutic feeding program have increased more than 50 percent in the past year.

There is no one-size-fits-all solution, so we take a holistic approach—tackling both immediate threats and the root causes of hunger.

We fight waterborne illnesses that contribute to malnutrition. Our water, sanitation, and hygiene teams construct wells so communities have access to clean water, build latrines for displaced families to help promote safe sanitation practices, and train people on the importance of daily hygiene to prevent sickness.

Our food security and livelihood teams prevent hunger in the short-term with food and cash transfers, and ensure that crops can be replanted and livestock restocked in the future. We work to improve dietary diversity, staving off malnutrition with a richer, more diverse diet. 
 
Read the diary of Nick Radin, our water, sanitation and hygiene coordinator for South Sudan

Emergency programmes in Jonglei, Upper Nile and Unity States

Our presence in South Sudan is vital, and our emergency programmes highlight this need. Five months ago, we responded to a cholera outbreak in the capital city of Juba.

At its peak, there were more than 100 new cases per week. Our cholera response team immediately began disinfecting households affected by cholera, rehabilitating water infrastructure in cholera affected areas, holding mass cholera awareness sessions, and building the capacity of local authorities and community-based organizations to respond to the outbreak. 

Now that the outbreak has subsided, our cholera team is focused on prevention, and is prepared to work anywhere in South Sudan if cases of cholera are confirmed.

Along with our cholera response programs, our nutrition programs are at the forefront of the response to this crisis. Our surveillance emergency team travels to some of the most remote areas of South Sudan collecting nutrition data to determine where children have the highest rates of malnutrition and what needs to be done to help. 

Our data collection is vital to the international community’s response to the food crisis in South Sudan and with UNICEF’s continued partnership, we will continue to assess the nutrition situation in South Sudan and provide the information necessary to save lives.
 
In close collaboration with our surveillance team, our nutrition emergency team works to save the lives of severely malnourished children and to build the capacity of local partners to respond. 

The team sets up outpatient therapeutic programs in the most critical areas, where they diagnose, treat, and prevent malnutrition in young children. Next, we then train local partner organizations with the goal of transferring the therapeutic program to them. This practice allows our team to move on to other areas of high need while building local capacity. 

In the first two months of operation in Bentiu, we admitted close to 350 malnourished children, trained over 20 local volunteers and staff, and counselled over 1,400 people on health and nutrition.

After the outpatient therapeutic program was fully established, we transferred it to a partner organization. The nutrition team will soon set up new operations in Ayod County and Twic East, where people are living day to day under the threat of violence, with limited access to food, water, and livelihoods.

Meet Jogie Agbogan, who coordinates nutrition programmes in South Sudan 

On World Food Day, help us fight the worst food crisis in the world

Help our nutrition, food security, and water and sanitation experts as they work with the people of South Sudan. 

Our expertise is what makes us one of the most effective humanitarian organizations in the world, and we are dedicated to helping the people of South Sudan now and moving forward.

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Photo credits:  © Carla Fibla