Famine threatens children's lives in South Sudan

South Sudan Crisis

A hunger catastrophe threatens the lives of over a million young children in the world's youngest nation. Help save lives

A famine has been declared in parts of South Sudan, the first to be announced in any part of the world in six years. More than one million children are currently estimated to be acutely malnourished; more than one in four of these children are severely malnourished. Without urgent help these children will die.

Many people, especially women and children, have fled the conflict with few possessions and little to no money. With many areas of the country engulfed by violence or the imminent threat of it, they are facing violence, hunger and disease. The total number of food insecure people is expected to rise to 5.5 million at the height of the lean season in July if no action is taken to contain the food crisis.

People we helped in 2015

What areas are experiencing famine in South Sudan?

The dark red area on the map of South Sudan below indicates famine according to Integrated Phase Classification (IPC). IPC is used to describe the severity of food emergencies.

Action Against Hunger is on the ground in four states of South Sudan: Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Jonglei, and Central Equatoria.

We are racing against time to stop the famine from engulfing other areas and taking the lives of more children. But we need more supplies and resources to meet the extreme needs.

Why is there a famine in South Sudan?

In 2013, war erupted in the world’s newest nation, South Sudan.

The violence has uprooted 3.39 million people, and conflict throughout the country has cut off entire communities from humanitarian assistance. As a result, families escaping violence have no access to supplies of food or safe water. Since then, political upheaval and ongoing conflict - combined with widespread insecurity, food shortages and an unstable economy - have contributed to a spiraling humanitarian emergency. About 42 percent of the population does not know where their next meal will come from.

What we are doing

We have been working in South Sudan since 1985. We are meeting the urgent humanitarian needs of communities in four states of South Sudan: Jonglei, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Central Equatoria (Juba). We are reaching more than 349,500 people with lifesaving emergency food and nutrition programmes, as well as livelihoods and water and sanitation interventions. Our multisector emergency team is also responding on the frontlines of the widespread food crisis, supporting emergency assessments and lifesaving humanitarian action where it is most needed.

  • Our dedicated Nutrition Emergency Team is working around the clock to identify and meet fast-growing nutrition needs. We have set up  Outpatient Therapeutic Programmes so malnourished children can access urgently needed treatment. We are also working in collaboration with partner organisations to enhance their capacity to diagnose, treat and prevent acute malnutrition in children.
  • Our Surveillance Emergency team is travelling around the country to assess the nutritional needs of children in South Sudan. We are at the front lines of collecting nutrition data to determine where children have the highest rates of malnutrition and what we and the wider international community needs to do to help them in their communities. 
  • We also address waterborne illnesses that contribute to malnutrition. Our water, sanitation, and hygiene teams construct wells so communities have access to clean water. We build latrines for displaced families to help promote safe sanitation practices and train people on the importance of daily hygiene to prevent sickness.
  • ​And 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.

But the humanitarian situation is catastrophic. This emergency is projected to worsen over the next six months unless a major response is mobilised immediately. Communities already facing severe food shortages are now entering the “lean season,” when already inadequate food supplies will run out, leaving people in great danger in the months before the next harvest.


South Sudan Crisis
South Sudan Hidden Crisis


Help the forgotten children of South Sudan

Image © 2015 Andrew Parsons / i-Images for Action Against Hunger UK

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