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Conflict displaces well over 100,000 in April as extreme levels of food insecurity persist

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • South Sudan
  • April 2017
Conflict displaces well over 100,000 in April as extreme levels of food insecurity persist

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2017
  • Key Messages
    • In Unity State, Famine (IPC Phase 5) is likely ongoing in Leer, and Koch is in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) with an elevated risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5). Large-scale assistance has reached Koch monthly since February and Leer monthly since March. It is expected Mayendit will be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4!) and Panyijiar will be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) through May, in the presence of large-scale assistance. Concern remains high for central Unity State and Famine (IPC Phase 5) is likely in Leer, Koch, and Mayendit at the peak of the lean season in June/July, in the absence of humanitarian assistance.

    • According to recent SMART surveys, the prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM), as measured by weight-for-height z-score, remains above the Emergency (IPC Phase 4) threshold in many areas of the country. The prevalence of acute malnutrition surpassed the Famine threshold (GAM (WHZ)>30%) in several areas of greatest concern during the 2016 lean season. Food security outcomes and household food access were already extremely low at the start of the 2017 lean season, and it is possible levels of malnutrition will again exceed 30 percent in some areas between May and July. 

    • Consistent high rates of displacement and ongoing conflict are disrupting first season cultivation in Greater Equatoria and are likely to interfere with upcoming main season cultivation in Jonglei, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Unity, and Upper Nile States. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected from June to September in the worst affected areas of these states. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are also expected in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, due to extremely high food prices and limited income-earning options. 


    Current Situation

    Over 100,000 people have been displaced in April in Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Western Bahr el Ghazal, Jonglei, and Upper Nile following clashes between armed actors. In Eastern Equatoria, over 6,000 people fled to Uganda following an attack on the town of Pajok in early April. In Wau of Western Bahr el Ghazal, about 17,000 people were displaced to protection sites in Wau town following an upsurge in violence in early April. An estimated 38,000 people remain displaced in areas outside Wau. Also in Western Bahr el Ghazal in April, an unknown number of people were displaced from their homes in Raja, and roughly 2,800 people were displaced from Jur River to Warrap State. An estimated 100,000 people have been displaced from Uror and Nyirol of Jonglei as a result of renewed conflict that began in February. The majority of these displacements took place in April. Ongoing displacement is disrupting households’ capacity to plant for the upcoming agricultural season.

    Recent SMART surveys indicate that GAM prevalences remain above the Emergency (IPC Phase 4) threshold in many areas of South Sudan. A SMART survey conducted by ACF in Duk of Jonglei in February/March showed a GAM prevalence of 26.1 percent (95% C.l.: 22.2-30.5). In Minkaman, Awerial County of Lakes State, a SMART survey conducted by IMC in March found a GAM prevalence of 19.9 percent. Similarly, results of a SMART survey conducted by Save the Children in Ulang County in March/April found a GAM prevalence of 16.1 percent (95% C.l.: 12.8-20.1). SMART surveys are ongoing in Koch and Leer. The prevalence of malnutrition surpassed the Famine threshold (GAM (WHZ)>30%) in several areas of greatest concern during the 2016 lean season. Food security outcomes and household food access were already extremely low at the start of the 2017 lean season, and it is possible levels of malnutrition will again exceed 30 percent in some areas between May and July.

    All roads remain seasonally accessible, but conflict continues to affect trade flows to various parts of the country. Transport along the Juba-Bor road resumed in mid-April after temporary closure in early April, although ambushes on commercial vehicles continue to disrupt trade flows to Bor and Twic East. Trade flows between Magwi and Torit have similarly been disrupted by recent armed clashes in Magwi County. Recent insecurity in and around Wau, and between Rumbek and Wau, is also reducing trade flows to Wau town.

    Food prices continue to rise, and increases over the past year have been significantly greater than those observed between 2015 and 2016. The greatest price increase for sorghum was observed in Bor, from 10.9 SSP/kg in February 2016 to 91.4 SSP/kg in February 2017, a 737 percent increase. Over the same time period, the price of sorghum increased 362 percent in Juba, 248 percent in Aweil, and 349 percent in Wau. Compared to the five-year average, sorghum prices remain nearly ten times higher. Extremely high prices coupled with limited income-earning opportunities are sharply limiting food access among poor households.

    In April in Unity State, humanitarian partners reached about 48,500 beneficiaries in Leer County and interventions targeting 28,600 people are ongoing in Mayendit County. Another round of assistance is also underway in Nyal of Panyijiar targeting over 29,000 people. In Lainya and Wonduruba in Central Equatoria, humanitarians were able to reach IDPs with food assistance in April following months of inaccessibility. An estimated 8,700 IDPs were targeted in Wonduruba alone. However, ongoing insecurity continues to disrupt the delivery of much-needed assistance in many other areas. Fighting in Uror and Nyirol of Jonglei forced the relocation of nearly 60 humanitarian workers in mid-April and resulted in the suspension of planned food drops to more than 11,200 people in Nyirol.

    In Northern Bahr el Ghazal, the lean season is ongoing and many poor households continue to face difficulty meeting their basic food needs, due to few income-earning opportunities, extremely high food prices, and seasonally low fish and milk availability. In 2017, over 95,500 South Sudanese have fled to Sudan, many of whom are from Greater Bahr el Ghazal. Many households are moving in search of income-earning opportunities, although there have been some reports of entire households migrating.  

    Famine (IPC Phase 5) is likely ongoing in Leer. Large-scale humanitarian assistance was delivered in March and April and is helping moderate food consumption gaps among recipients. Additional information on food security or nutrition outcomes, though, is not yet available. Large-scale humanitarian assistance continues to likely reach the majority of the population in need in Mayendit and Panyijiar. A recent SMART survey conducted in March in Panyijiar recorded a GAM (WHZ) of 16.0 percent (10.0-19.7), on the low end of the threshold indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4), and a non-trauma Crude Death Rate (CDR) of 0.57, on the low end of the threshold indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3). With ongoing humanitarian assistance, it is expected that Panyijiar is in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!). Households of greatest concern, including recently arrived IDPs and those displaced away from humanitarian assistance distributions, remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), though. In Mayendit, where SMART survey results from January/February found a GAM prevalence of 27.3 percent, Emergency (IPC Phase 4!) outcomes likely persist. Similarly, large-scale humanitarian assistance since February has reached the majority of the need in Koch. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes likely persist in Koch, but an elevated risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) remains.

    Conflict in and around Wau is disrupting market access and humanitarian access to rural areas of concern. Households’ income-earning activities have significantly declined and many are unable to access sufficient food from the market at very high prices. Furthermore, access to wild foods and game meat is often inaccessible, due to ongoing insecurity. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persist. In Greater Equatoria, an increasing number of households are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and some households are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist, and some poor households are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), given high dependence on markets and extremely high food prices that are limiting household food access. Furthermore, access to fish and milk has seasonally declined in this state.  


    Updated Assumptions

    The current situation has not affected most of the assumptions used in South Sudan Food Security Outlook for February to September 2017. However, the following assumption has been updated:

    • Humanitarian access is still likely to remain volatile throughout the outlook period in many areas; however, it is assumed that humanitarian actors will continue to have access to southern and central Unity State through at least May, given that they have maintained access in recent months. 

    Projected Outlook through September 2017

    The availability of fish and wild foods is expected to increase from June/July through September as the rainy season progresses and flooding starts. However, under the assumption conflict between Government forces and armed opposition continues, further displacement and continued disruption to/halt of agricultural activities is likely, as is further disruption to the delivery of assistance. In the absence of large-scale humanitarian assistance, Famine (IPC Phase 5) is likely to continue in Leer through at least July. Although humanitarian access remains volatile in many areas of the country, humanitarian actors currently report ability to regularly access Panyijiar and Mayendit. It is therefore expected that large-scale humanitarian assistance is likely to continue through at least May. Mayendit is expected to remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4!) and Panyijiar is likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!). From June to September, in the absence of continued assistance, Panyijiar is likely to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Mayendit would likely be in Famine (IPC Phase 5). Famine (IPC Phase 5) is also possible in Koch, between June and September, in the absence of continued large-scale assistance.   

    Food security outcomes continue to worsen in Western Bahr el Ghazal. A significant proportion of IDPs and poor urban households are unlikely to be able to meet their basic food needs, and food consumption gaps will continue to widen as the lean season progresses. As a result of insecurity, trade flows, market functioning, and the delivery of humanitarian assistance will likely be intermittently interrupted through September, especially in Raja where insecurity has prevented the delivery of humanitarian assistance since June 2016. Furthermore, many households have lost productive assets and typical livelihood options after being repeatedly displaced and may not be able to plant typical plot sizes. Subsequently, green consumption in August/September will be lower than normal. Food consumption gaps are expected to persist beyond the typical lean season. Many poor households and IDPs will face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. As noted in the February outlook, concern remains that some displaced households around Wau that do not have access to humanitarian assistance and remain unable to purchase sufficient food at extremely high prices could exhaust the capacity to cope and face Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) during the lean season. In Northern Bahr el Ghazal, food security is also expected to deteriorate between June and September, and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely during this time. In Upper Nile repeated displacement is preventing many households from regularly accessing markets and disrupting fishing activities, as well as occasionally preventing the delivery of humanitarian assistance. Food consumption gaps exist among households in conflict-affected eastern counties and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected through the lean season.

    In Greater Equatoria the conflict is expected to continue disrupting trade flows, resulting in commodity scarcity and price hikes on many markets. In April, the impact of ongoing conflict on trade flows was apparent in Torit and Kapoeta, where supplies dropped, and continued food supply shortages are expected on these markets as violence in these counties continues. It is likely that thousands will continue to be displaced both internally and externally and agricultural activities will be substantially lower than normal in many areas, reducing first and second season harvests. Worst affected areas of Lainya and Yei are likely to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. In Jonglei, many people remain internally displaced and ongoing conflict is expected to negatively impact humanitarian access and assistance levels could decline during the outlook period. Most households in northern and central counties of Jonglei will face significant food consumption gaps and will be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) between June and September, in the absence of humanitarian assistance.

    Figures

    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes, April 2017

    Source: FEWS NET

    This Food Security Outlook Update provides an analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography over the next six months. Learn more here.

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