Food Security Outlook Update

Emergency (IPC Phase 4) expected to continue in Jonglei and Unity in the post-harvest period

August 2017

August - September 2017

October 2017 - January 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

  • Extreme levels of food insecurity persist across South Sudan as conflict continues to limit access to typical food sources and, in some areas, the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes exist in all states, despite the start of the harvest. Some households on isolated islands along the White Nile in Leer of Unity and Ayod of Jonglei could be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in the event they are unable to move in search of assistance. 

  • Food security has improved marginally with the ongoing first season harvest in Greater Equatoria and green harvest in Greater Bahr el Ghazal and Greater Upper Nile. However, national production is expected to be below the five-year average, which will lead to low domestic supply in 2018 and a continuation of extremely high food prices. At the household level, food availability is now expected to be lower than previously projected in Torit, Magwi, Budi, Juba, and Aweil Center due to crop damage from Fall Armyworm.

  • According to SMART surveys conducted at the end of the 2017 lean season, acute malnutrition prevalences remain at ‘Critical’ (GAM (WHZ) ≥15%) levels across the country. Given the expectation of below-average production, continued very poor macroeconomic conditions, and low access to nutrition services, the prevalence of acute malnutrition is expected to remain ‘Critical’ throughout the outlook period in all regions.  

Current Situation

In August, the first season harvest in Greater Equatoria and the start of the green harvest in Greater Bahr el Ghazal and Greater Upper Nile has supported slight improvements in food security. According to recent field assessments, the first season harvest is complete in most areas of Greater Equatoria and the consumption of green harvests is taking place in Aweil Center, Aweil West, and Aweil North of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Bor South and Twic East of Jonglei, and Panyijiar of Unity. In all other areas of Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr el Ghazal, the green harvest is delayed due to the late onset of July to September rainfall, which led to delayed planting. Despite moderate improvements in food security in areas where harvests are available, extreme levels of food insecurity persist in many areas as a result of below-average production due to conflict-related disruptions and Fall Armyworm (FAW) infestations, and persistent deterioration of macroeconomic conditions resulting in low food access. Of greatest concern is central Unity State and Ayod of Jonglei State, where concern remains very high for populations isolated in inaccessible areas near the Nile River.  

Between May and August, Fall Armyworm (FAW) has been reported in all regions of the country. Although the scale of crop loss has not been comprehensively assessed, significant crop damage was noted in Torit, Magwi, and Budi of Eastern Equatoria, Juba of Central Equatoria, and Aweil Center of Northern Bahr el Ghazal. Production in typically surplus-producing areas of Greater Equatoria was already expected to be well below average due to large-scale displacement to Uganda, where the number of refugees reached 1 million in August, and now some crop loss is likely due to FAW. This will result in very low domestic production for the coming consumption year. Although there have been some reports of South Sudanese refugees in Uganda returning to cultivate in bordering counties, the scale is expected to be relatively low. 

In addition to disrupting agricultural activities, conflict continues to cause high levels of displacement, interrupt the delivery of assistance, and disrupt other livelihood activities. In early July, clashes between Government forces and armed opposition forced the relocation of more than a dozen aid workers from Mayendit and Leer. Sporadic clashes in mid-July in parts of Rubkona and Koch stalled ongoing deliveries of humanitarian assistance and displaced households who had recently returned to these areas. In Maiwut of Upper Nile, repeated armed clashes in Pagak in August disrupted the delivery of humanitarian assistance and displaced more than 5,000 people to bordering Ethiopia. Access to markets and gathering of wild foods and fishing have been repeatedly disrupted by ongoing insecurity in Manyo, Panyikang, Fashoda, and Renk, as well as in previously stable areas of Maiwut, Longochuk, and Nasir.

Conflict-related disruptions to oil production and fluctuations in the global oil price continue to limit access to foreign currency, and the South Sudan Pound (SSP) further depreciated on the parallel market from 150 SSP/USD in June to 172 SSP/USD in late-August. Fuel shortages remain widespread, and in Juba the price of a liter of petrol on the parallel market increased to 600 SSP, the highest recorded since July 2016. The scarcity of USD and high fuel prices continue to limit traders’ capacity to import foods, driving up staple food prices. In Juba, the retail price of sorghum is 450 percent above the five-year average and 49 percent higher than the same time last year. In Wau and Aweil, the retail price of sorghum is 97 percent and 27 percent, respectively, higher the same time last year. 

Recent assessments and SMART surveys indicate continued extreme levels of acute food insecurity and high levels of acute malnutrition. Although data from other areas of Ayod are still being analyzed, preliminary results from Food Security and Nutrition Monitoring System (FSNMS) round 20 conducted in Ayod of Jonglei by REACH in Pagil, Gorwai, and Haat villages note that current food insecurity is driven by conflict-related displacement, significant disruption to trade flows, atypical flooding that led to an outbreak of livestock disease and destroyed crops, and limited access to agricultural inputs. Preliminary results from the data collected indicate a high percentage of the surveyed population has very restricted food consumption, which points to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. It should be noted, though, that the sample size was small and cluster sampling was restricted to accessible areas. These food security outcomes were in the presence of humanitarian assistance, with half the surveyed population reporting receiving assistance. Food security outcomes could be more severe in inaccessible areas, where assistance is even more limited. 

Throughout South Sudan, levels of acute malnutrition reported during the 2017 lean season were well above the ‘Critical’ threshold (GAM (WHZ) ≥15%), indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) Weight-for-Height (WHZ) prevalences were similar to those observed during the 2016 lean season (Figure 1), with the exception of Gogrial West, Abienmhom, and Rubkona, where GAM (WHZ) reduced.

Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes exit in all states of the country. Ongoing assistance is preventing further deterioration in many counties, including Leer and Mayendit of Unity State. Concern remains for populations on isolated islands along the Nile River, although additional information on these individuals is limited. Ground information indicates that some individuals may have moved towards Fangak or Ayod, or towards the mainland of Leer, in search of assistance, although the ongoing rainy season makes movement difficult. There is high concern for these individuals and those on isolated islands in Ayod who are not able to move in search of food and may be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).

Updated Assumptions

The current situation has not affected most assumptions made in FEWS NET’s South Sudan Food Security Outlook for June 2017 to January 2018. However, the following assumption has been updated:

  • Well below-average harvests are now expected in Torit, Magwi, Budi, Juba, and Aweil Center due to sizable crop damage from FAW. Isolated crop losses are also expected in all other counties that reported FAW. Production is also likely to be lower than previously projected in Ayod, based on new information that access to agricultural inputs was extremely limited during the planting season and that floods destroyed some crops. Lastly, production is also expected to be more below average than previously projected in Yei, Lainya, Morobo, and Kajo-Keji, due to continued displacement from these counties to Uganda. 

Projected Outlook through January 2018

Projected food security outcomes remain as previously described in the South Sudan Food Security Outlook for June 2017 to January 2018: Severe levels of acute food insecurity are likely to continue even during the harvest period. In most of the counties where well below-average production is now likely, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are still expected during the October to January period, as previously projected, but it is now anticipated that the harvest will be depleted earlier than normal and food security will deteriorate in late 2017. In Ayod, however, in addition to very poor production, many households now face significant restrictions to move in search of other food sources and insecurity has limited trade flows, resulting in very low market supplies. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are now anticipated in Ayod even during the harvest period. In other areas of South Sudan, although assistance is preventing worse outcomes, the total number of planned beneficiaries throughout 2017 is under half of the estimated need. Prices are likely to remain extremely high and most households will continue to face record low purchasing capacity. For those who lack access to assistance, food security is expected to remain severe throughout the outlook period. Between October 2017 and January 2018, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are anticipated in all regions of the country, and areas of greatest concern, including Leer, Mayendit, and Ayod, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist.

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 28 countries. Implementing team members include NASA, NOAA, USDA, and USGS, along with Chemonics International Inc. and Kimetrica. Read more about our work.

USAID logoUSGS logoUSDA logo
NASA logoNOAA logoKimetrica logoChemonics logo