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Presence Country
Food Security Outlook Update

Recent rapid assessment indicates Catastrophic (IPC Phase 5) outcomes in Pibor

April 2018

April - May 2018

June - September 2018

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Would likely be at least one phase worse without current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET classification is IPC-compatible. IPC-compatible analysis follows key IPC protocols but does not necessarily reflect the consensus of national food security partners.
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

IPC 2.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase

Presence countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3: Crisis
4: Emergency
5: Famine
Remote monitoring
countries:
1: Minimal
2: Stressed
3+: Crisis or higher
Would likely be at least one phase worse without
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
FEWS NET Remote Monitoring countries use a colored outline to represent the highest IPC classification in areas of concern.

Key Messages

  • Food security has further deteriorated in Pibor and it is possible that more than 20 percent of households are in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). In an assessment conducted by REACH in March/April, 24.3 percent of households reported a Household Hunger Scale of six, indicative of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) and a significant increase from already severe hunger reported in late 2017. In October 2017, the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM (WHZ)) was 26.8 percent (22.8-31.2), somewhat below the Famine (IPC Phase 5) threshold of 30 percent. A SMART survey, which will collect representative nutrition and mortality information, is likely to be conducted. Urgent humanitarian assistance is needed in this county to save lives.

  • Relatively less information is available on Kapoeta East, though given similarities between Pibor and Kapoeta East in terms of livelihoods and conflict, as well as ground reports that indicate food security has further deteriorated, there is also extreme concern for this county. Hunger and acute malnutrition were already high in December, when 80 percent of households reported moderate HHS and ACF reported a GAM (WHZ) prevalence of 24.0 percent (19.0-29.8). Some households may also be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in Kapoeta East and urgent humanitarian assistance is needed in this county.

  • Also of high concern are central Unity and Nyirol. In central Unity, conflict has caused a new wave of displacement and prevented the delivery of humanitarian food aid. In Nyirol, a SMART survey conducted in March found a GAM (WHZ) prevalence of 25.7 percent (21.9-30.0), and a SAM (WHZ) of 6.6 percent (4.6-9.3).

  • Humanitarian assistance during the first quarter of 2018 reached a smaller percentage of the need than in previous years, as the growth of the population in need is outpacing response. A significant increase in the provision of humanitarian assistance, above planned levels, is needed to prevent more households from falling in to Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). In addition to Pibor and Kapoeta East, areas of high concern include central and southern Unity, northern Jonglei, and Greater Baggari.

  • In the protracted absence of assistance over a large area, Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely as the absence of assistance would remove a primary food source and likely drive increased conflict over remaining scarce resources. In turn, higher levels of conflict would increase movement restrictions, preventing households from accessing food from other sources. Given that large-scale food assistance has not been delivered between January and March, this worst-case scenario may already be occurring in Pibor and Kapoeta East. Although the above-mentioned areas are also of high concern, given the volatile nature of conflict and that food security can deteriorate rapidly among populations who face extreme movement restrictions, Famine (IPC Phase 5) remains possible in many areas of the country.

Current situation

Extreme food insecurity persists across South Sudan as the lean season progresses, conflict continues to disrupt normal livelihoods, and macroeconomic conditions remain very poor. Of greatest concern in April are Pibor of Jonglei and Kapoeta East of Eastern Equatoria. However, southern and central Unity, northern Jonglei, and Wau County also remain of high concern, and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity exists in all regions of the country despite ongoing humanitarian assistance.

In Pibor, a rapid assessment conducted by REACH in March/April and partner consultations conducted by FEWS NET indicate food security has deteriorated sharply, prompting increased concern of the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5). In neighboring Kapoeta East, key informants report food security has also deteriorated. The driver of this deterioration is conflict, specifically cattle raiding. The dominate livelihood system in these counties is pastoralism, and according to the December 2017 FSNMS, 60-80 percent of households have experienced a significant decrease in livestock herd sizes (Figure 1). In interviews conducted by REACH, some households reported an increase in cattle raiding among neighbors, a breakdown of typical kinship that likely indicates increased levels of extreme coping. In addition, trade flows and humanitarian access remain minimal due to continued road ambushes and lootings. In Pibor, conflict forced humanitarian agencies to relocate to Pibor town from Gumuruk and Lekwangole payams in July 2017. This limits humanitarians work in rural areas to periodic outreach as security permits, and rural populations have very limited access to health and nutrition services.

As a result of the above persistent disruptions to livelihood activities, food security has further deteriorated in these areas. According to the rapid assessment conducted by REACH, 24.3 percent of households interviewed reported a Household Hunger Scale (HHS) of six. An HHS of six signifies an extreme lack of food indicative of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). These data are not statistically representative; however, the severity is significant enough to warrant urgent response. Further efforts are underway to triangulate these findings, including SMART surveys in Pibor and Kapoeta East in May, identification and analysis of available admission data, and rapid assessments by FEWS NET in both Pibor and Kapoeta East. This information will assist in triangulating what already appears to be a significant increase in very severe hunger since late 2017, when 8.3 percent of households surveyed by the FSNMS indicated an HHS of six. Further concerning is that the prevalence of global acute malnutrition, as measured by weight-for-height z-score (GAM (WHZ)) was 26.8 percent (22.8-31.2) and severe acute malnutrition (SAM (WHZ)) was 8.0 percent (6.0-10.6), in October 2017, a month of relatively higher food availability than April. This GAM (WHZ) was near the Famine (IPC Phase 5) threshold of 30 percent, and it is possible malnutrition has further increased since October. In January, the IPC TWG estimated five percent of the population of Pibor would be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) by July if there was a protracted absence of humanitarian assistance. There has been a protracted absence of assistance, with no general food distributions delivered between January and March according to distribution reports, and it is likely some households are already in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Gumuruk and Lekwangole payams are of greatest concern.

In Kapoeta East, hunger and acute malnutrition were already high in December, when 80 percent of households reported moderate HHS and ACF reported a GAM (WHZ) prevalence of 24.0 percent (19.0-29.8). Given similarities between Pibor and Kapoeta East in terms of livelihoods and the level of ongoing conflict, as well as ground reports that indicate food security has further deteriorated in this county, it is possible some households are also in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in Kapoeta East.

Cattle raiding and livestock disease are also impacting households’ access to food and income across many areas of Lakes and Jonglei. Key informant information indicates that Rift Valley Fever (RVF) disease, which was declared in mid-March in parts of Yirol East, Yirol West and Awerial, have spread to parts of Jonglei. It is likely this is contributing to poor livestock health, resulting in lower livestock productivity and atypical livestock deaths.

Also of high concern in Jonglei is Nyirol, where a SMART survey conducted in March found a GAM (WHZ) prevalence of 25.7 percent (21.9-30.0), somewhat below the Famine threshold of 30 percent, and a SAM (WHZ) of 6.6 percent (4.6-9.3). The Crude Death Rate was 1.70, though the percentage of deaths due to trauma are not yet known. In the same survey, 4.1 percent of households reported severe HHS and 77 percent reported moderate hunger. This indicates a sharp deterioration from March 2016 when a GAM (WHZ) of 15.9 percent (13.3-18.8) and SAM (WHZ) of 1.1 (0.5-2.1) were recorded.

In Unity, market functioning has improved slightly in southern Mayendit with increased trade flows from Rumbek of Lakes, Adok port of Leer, and Tonj East of Warrap. However, in northern Mayendit and neighboring Leer, armed clashes have forced and estimated 41,000 people to flee and resulted in the looting on humanitarian supplies. In parts of Koch, Guit, Bentui, Abiemnhom, Mayom, and Leer, increased conflict in mid-April has led to the loss of lives, destruction of household assets, and disruption of assistance deliveries and trade flows. It was previously expected Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes would exist in Leer and Guit in April, but given the scale of disruption to assistance that has resulted from higher levels of conflict, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are now likely. Of greatest concern in Leer, where some households may be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).

In Western Bahr el Ghazal, Greater Baggari of Wau remains of high concern. Households have depleted their food stocks and although humanitarian assistance is being delivered to Wau, humanitarian workers in the area have confirmed that no distributions have been provided in Greater Baggari in the past two months. There also remain limitations to movement in search of wild foods. There are concerns some households could be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).

In Greater Equatoria, security has improved slightly along the Kaya-Yei and Juba-Yei roads and traders are now traveling without armed escorts. Supplies have increased compared to last month in Yei market and an estimated 1,650 small-scale traders are now active in Dar-Salam, Jigomoni, and Freedom Square markets of Yei.

Rainfall during the first two months of the March to June rainy season has been above average (Figure 3). FEWS NET monitors in Yei and Torit report that crops are in the vegetative stage and in good condition and similar crop conditions are expected in most areas of Greater Equatoria. No significant flooding has been reported to date. However, conflict continues to disrupt farmers’ access to fields in many rural areas of the region.  

Although the above-mentioned areas of Pibor, Kapoeta East, Unity, Jonglei, and Greater Baggari are of highest concern, many households throughout South Sudan face food consumption gaps or are only meeting their basic food needs through unsustainable coping strategies. SMART surveys conducted between January and March indicate persistent ‘Serious’ or ‘Critical’ levels of acute malnutrition, indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, respectively. In Uror of Jonglei, Tearfund reported a GAM (WHZ) prevalence of 16.0 percent (13.1-19.5) in January. Also in January, SMART surveys conducted by World Vision in Fashoda and Melut of Upper Nile reported a GAM (WHZ) prevalence of 13.3 percent (9.7-17.9) and 21.7 (18.1-25.7), respectively. CUAMM conducted a SMART survey in Yirol West of Lakes in January and reported a GAM (WHZ) of 13.0 percent (10.1-16.5). In March, World Relief reported a GAM (WHZ) prevalence of 13.8 percent (10.7-17.7) in Koch. The prevalence of SAM (WHZ) was over 4 percent in Melut and Koch.

Humanitarian assistance reached roughly 1.58 million people in March. This is an increase from the number of people reached in January and February, and assistance continues to prevent more extreme outcomes in several areas, primarily in Greater Upper Nile. However, the number of beneficiaries reached is still well below the estimated 6-7 million people in need, and assistance is currently reaching a smaller percentage of the need than in previous years, as the growth of the population in need is outpacing response (Figure 3).

Updated Assumptions

The assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the South Sudan Food Security Outlook for February 2018 to September 2018 remain unchanged except for the following:  

  • It was previously assumed that humanitarian assistance would continue to reach populations in need of assistance at planned levels in Greater Baggari of Wau, Nyirol and Pigi/Canal of Jonglei, Guit and Leer of Unity, and Fashoda of Upper Nile. However, given delivery trends in early 2018 that show lower deliveries than previously expected, it is now assumed the delivery of assistance to these counties will remain lower than originally planned. 
  • Given continued cattle raiding, road ambushes, and looting in Pibor and Kapoeta East, humanitarian access and trade flows are likely to remain inconsistent throughout the projection period.

Projected Outlook through September 2018

Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist throughout South Sudan, as households have already depleted food stocks and face extremely high food prices with limited income-earning opportunities. Additionally, it is expected that access to wild foods including fish and wild foods will be periodically disrupted due to conflict, and household ownership of livestock in many worst-affected areas will also be instable due to ongoing cattle raiding. In many areas of Greater Upper Nile, assistance is still expected to prevent more extreme food security outcomes and Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) will persist in many areas. However, based on the revised humanitarian assistance assumption, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are now expected in Greater Baggari, Nyirol, Pigi/Canal, Guit, and Leer throughout the projection period.

The 2018 lean season is expected to be more severe than the 2017 lean season, and it is likely most households will face significant food consumption gaps in July/August. Households will not yet have access to 2018 production and with very low purchasing capacity, or in some cases lack of physical access to markets, households will continue to rely on wild foods, livestock products, fish, and humanitarian assistance where available. Humanitarian assistance is likely to prevent more extreme food security outcomes in several areas, though assistance at planned levels will be insufficient to meet the high need expected during the lean season. Furthermore, given the volatile nature of conflict, it is likely households will face periodic disruption to accessing natural food sources. In the absence of large-scale, consistent humanitarian assistance throughout the projection period, well above levels currently planned, it is likely some households will exhausted their capacity to cope and be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Of greatest concern are Pibor, Kapoeta East, central and southern Unity, Greater Baggari of Wau, and northern Jonglei. An end to the conflict is needed to facilitate consistent humanitarian access.

In the absence of assistance over a large area for an extended period of time, Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely as the absence of assistance would remove a primary food source and would likely drive increased levels of conflict over remaining scarce resources. In turn, higher levels of conflict would increase movement restrictions, preventing households from accessing food from other sources. Given that large-scale food assistance has not been delivered between January and March, this worst-case scenario may already be occurring in Pibor and Kapoeta East. Additional areas for which there is high concern that Famine (IPC Phase 5) could occur in the protracted absence of assistance throughout include central and southern Unity, north Jonglei, and Wau of Western Bahr el Ghazal. However, given the volatile nature of the current Emergency, and that food security can deteriorate rapidly among populations who face extreme movement restrictions, Famine (IPC Phase 5) remains possible in many areas of the country.

About this Update

This monthly report covers current conditions as well as changes to the projected outlook for food insecurity in this country. It updates FEWS NET’s quarterly Food Security Outlook. Learn more about our work here.

About FEWS NET

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network is a leading provider of early warning and analysis on food insecurity. Created by USAID in 1985 to help decision-makers plan for humanitarian crises, FEWS NET provides evidence-based analysis on some 34 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

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