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Assistance needs will increase due to influx of returnees fleeing conflict in Sudan

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • South Sudan
  • April 2023
Assistance needs will increase due to influx of returnees fleeing conflict in Sudan

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected Outlook through September 2023
  • Most likely food security outcomes
  • Key Messages
    • The lean season has begun early for many poor households, particularly in areas affected by the protracted impacts of multiple years of flooding and conflict, combined with persistent poor macroeconomic conditions and high and rising food and non-food prices. The relative lull in conflict in some areas has facilitated humanitarian food assistance deliveries over the past few months, helping to mitigate extreme outcomes in Pibor, Canal/Pigi, and Fangak, where some households had been previously assessed in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Nonetheless, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes with pockets of households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) persist in Panyikang and Fashoda of Upper Nile given the extensive erosion of livelihoods from compounding shocks and insecurity that is interfering with household mobility and assistance delivery.

    • During the upcoming rainy season from June to September, renewed flooding and insecurity are likely to disrupt trade flows, markets, and humanitarian deliveries leading to an increase in populations facing large food consumption gaps, with particular concern in areas of northern Jonglei and southern Upper Nile. However, planned food assistance is likely to mitigate the severity of outcomes in many counties of Jonglei, Upper Nile, Warrap, and Unity states. At the peak of the lean season (July and August), up to 60 percent of the country’s population will need humanitarian assistance.

    • Key conflict hotspot areas of South Sudan have been relatively calm since January 2023, albeit periodically marred by cattle raids in Upper Nile region and farmer-herder conflict in the Equatorias. However, the outbreak of conflict in Sudan has led to a large influx of mostly South Sudanese returnees (nearly 25,000 returnees as of the end of April) with the figure expected to rise as the conflict continues. The conflict is expected to further reduce cross-border trade flows from Sudan and stretch humanitarian response capacity in border areas of Upper Nile, Unity, and Northern Barh el Ghazal, where assistance needs are anticipated to rise.

    • FEWS NET assesses that a credible risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists in northern Jonglei and parts of Upper Nile, given the large share of populations in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) with associated high levels of acute malnutrition. Past events in South Sudan demonstrate the potential for new shocks to quickly arise and isolate households from food sources, leading to extreme hunger, and the area remains vulnerable to rapid shifts in conflict and unpredictable flood intensity.

    Current Situation

    Conflict and insecurity: The relative lull in conflict since January has persisted through April across much of South Sudan, attributable in part to concerted peace efforts ongoing at multiple levels. Nationally, the government continues to pursue the implementation of elements of the 2018 peace deal, including phased graduation, deployment of unified security forces to conflict hotspot areas in southern Upper Nile and northern Jonglei, and continued efforts to avert renewed escalation of conflict between Agwelek and SPLA-IO forces. Sub-nationally, multiple community- and state-led peace initiatives and calls for disarmament in Warrap, Abyei Administrative Area (AAA), Unity, Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA), and Central Equatoria, as well as inter-state peace conferences between Warrap, Unity, and Lakes, are ongoing. Nonetheless, given that underlying drivers of the conflict have yet to be fully addressed, concerns remain high around the risk of renewed conflict in many key conflict areas that could interfere with upcoming planting season.

    Moreover, the protracted negative impacts of armed clashes, combined with a rise in road ambushes, banditry, and cyclical cattle raiding in February and March, particularly in Jonglei and Central Equatoria, continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods of many households, limit household movement, and periodically disrupt the pre-positioning and delivery of humanitarian food assistance (Figure 1). Between March 17th and 27th, over 15,000 cattle raided at Partet and Padiek in Uror County of Jonglei and 15 people were killed in Akobo County of Jonglei at fishing sites,  purportedly in revenge attacks by armed Murle and indicative of the ongoing inter-communal strife that is limiting households’ ability to move, gather wild foods, and fish. Key informants and field monitoring reports indicate about 13,000 heads of livestock have been raided from Nyirol, Uror, and Duk of Jonglei in mid-March and early April 2023. In Maiwut, fighting between SPLA-IO and SSPDF in early April also displaced 450 people and wounded several others. Additionally, South Sudan remains one of the most dangerous places for humanitarians to work, exemplified by several recent incidents, including an attack on WFP convoy between Gadiang and Peleng in Uror County on March 17th that resulted in the killing of three humanitarians, loss of assorted humanitarian goods, and the suspension of dry season humanitarian food prepositioning efforts in Jonglei; and the death of an aid worker in Kohchar of Gumuruk payam while delivering food assistance to GPAA on March 21st.

    Figure 1

    Cattle Raiding events by state since January 2020
    stacked area chart showing incidences of cattle raiding by state between January 2020 and March 2023

    Source: Armed Conflict Location and Event Data

    Meanwhile in the Equatorias, sporadic clashes between SSPDF and the holdout National Salvation Front (NAS), as well as between farmers and Dinka Bor herders, continue to be reported. Incidents have occurred in rural parts of Yei, Lainya and Juba Counties of Central Equatoria, and Mundri East County of Western Equatoria, impeding first season cultivation and interrupting food supply flows from production areas to markets. Both Central Equatoria and Jonglei state officials have committed to ensuring the safe return of the cattle keepers to Bor County, though past trends suggest sporadic attacks with the farmers are likely to continue to occur through September.

    Finally, the eruption of conflict in Sudan since mid-April is resulting in an influx of people fleeing into South Sudan, mostly South Sudanese returnees. According to latest reports as of the end of April 2023, nearly 25,000 South Sudanese and several thousands of refugees have crossed the border, predominantly in Renk County in Upper Nile, of whom 500 were airlifted to Juba. More returnees are likely to follow (Figure 2). In addition to the increasing humanitarian burden, this influx poses within South Sudan, the ongoing conflict in Sudan is also likely to directly affect cross-border trade from Sudan into South Sudan and will likely impact food availability and prices in markets along the border with Sudan.

    Figure 2

    Population movement from Sudan to South Sudan
    Map of northern states in South Sudan that have received population from Sudan as a result of the conflict since April 15, 2023

    Source: FEWS NET using data from UNHCR and IOM

    First season progress and planting: The first season rains over bimodal South Sudan, typically falling between March and May, started 10 to 20 days earlier than usual this year, contributing to higher-than-normal quantities of rain (25-100 mm more than normal) in March over much of the Equatorias (Figure 3). According to FEWS NET’s satellite-based seasonal progress monitoring system, between 15 and 45 percent of first season maize crops in Equatoria maize growing areas are currently at the vegetative stage. This was further confirmed for both maize and groundnut by key informants and rapid field assessment reports in Yambio, Ezo, Nzara, Ibba, Maridi, and Tambura counties of Western Equatoria; the Lobone, Obbo, and Polataka areas of Magwi County and Ifwotu area of Torit County of Eastern Equatoria; and the Liwolo, Wudu, and Kangapo areas of Kajo-keji County and Yei County of Central Equatoria. While key informants report wilting of some maize crops in Yei County due to moisture stress given below-average April rainfall, the crops have potential to recover with renewed rainfall (Figure 3). Meanwhile, in the high grounds of Mayom, Marial, and Monymony payams of Panyijiar county of Unity and in Torit of Eastern Equatoria, field reports indicate land preparation for main season is ongoing, and planting of short-maturing sorghum is underway in Lafon County of Eastern Equatoria. 

    Figure 3

    Monthly total rainfall anomalies for March 2023 (left) and April 2023 (right)
    maps of monthly total rainfall anomalies over South Sudan in March 2023 (left) and April 2023 (right)

    Source: FEWS NET/NOAA

    Atypical floodwaters and impacts: Field monitoring and key informant information has confirmed significant recession of floodwaters in parts of Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal, Warrap, Unity, Abyei Administrative Area, and Jonglei, which has facilitated better humanitarian and market access, improved trade flows and market recovery, and assistance delivery and pre-positioning. However, residual flood waters persist in parts of eastern Mayendit, south-western Mayom, Panyijiar, Rubkona, Koch, and Guit counties of Unity state; western parts of Duk, Ayod, and Twic East of Jonglei; and north-eastern parts of Tonj North of Warrap, according to satellite imagery (Figure 4). The persistence of floodwater is limiting household physical access to markets and wild foods gathering and is interfering with prepositioning of humanitarian supplies prior to the start of the main rainy season, raising the risk of delayed distributions at the peak of the lean season. Moreover, many of the currently affected households were those that were heavily impacted by consecutive years of flooding that has significantly eroded their asset base and hindered the ability to pursue livelihoods, including planting (Figure 4).

    Figure 4

    Atypical extent of surface water as of mid-April 2023 (left, shown in shades of yellow and red) and recurrent annual flood frequency (2019-2022) by the end of 2022 rainy season (right)
    map showing the atypical extent of surface water as of mid-April 2023 (left) and recurrent annual flood frequency between 2019 and 2022 by the end of the 2022 rain season (right)

    Source: FEWS NET using data from NOAA VIIRS (left); REACH (right)

    Livestock production: Pasture and water supplies in many agropastoral and pastoral regions across northern unimodal South Sudan continue to deteriorate as the dry season progresses, affecting livestock health and household access to livestock products, such as milk. In parts of Upper Nile, Unity, and Northern Bahr el Ghazal that border Sudan, the situation is further aggravated by in-migration of Sudanese livestock, which has increased competition over limited grazing resources. With the ongoing conflict in Sudan, more Sudanese pastoralists are likely to arrive in northern border regions and may stay longer if fighting in their areas of origin persists and/or intensifies. Field reports indicate that the ensuing water and pasture scarcity in these areas have already led to increased seasonal migration in search of pasture and water in distant dry seasonal grazing areas, further reducing milk supplies for children and the elderly who typically remain behind at homesteads.

    Meanwhile, in Maiwut and Northern Bahr el Ghazal, conflict-related restrictions on movement are limiting the seasonal migration of livestock to grazing areas. The reduction in access to pasture is resulting in poor livestock body conditions despite FAO and partner interventions in March 2023 to vaccinate over 10,000 cattle and 25,000 sheep and goats against Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) and Peste des Petits Ruminants (PPR). Also of concern is the greater Kapoeta area of Eastern Equatoria, where cycles of drought since 2019 have led to severe water scarcity for humans and livestock and have limited livestock production in Kapoeta East. However, water availability is expected to improve due to the early onset of the first season rains rainfall in March (Figure 3). In contrast to areas facing significant dryness, pasture and livestock body conditions have generally improved from fair to good in northern Upper Nile, parts of Unity, Jonglei, Warrap, and southern Abyei Administrative Area, where floodwaters have significantly receded and permitted pasture re-growth.  

    Cereal production and requirement: As reported in the March Key Messages Update, 2022 crop production was 12 and 16 percent higher than that of 2021 and of the five-year average, respectively, covering about 66 percent of the total 2023 consumption requirements and leaving an estimated 34 percent cereal deficit to be met through imports and humanitarian food assistance. However, significant variations in regional cereal deficits exist, from a relatively low deficit of 37,474 metric tons in the Greater Equatoria region to a deficit of 340,965 metric tons in Greater Upper Nile region. The variations are likewise pronounced at household level, with many households – particularly in Pibor, Akobo of Jonglei, Tonj East and North of Warrap, Panyijiar of Unity, and Melut and Fashoda of Upper Nile – having already depleted their food stocks by April and becoming increasingly reliant on markets. Key informant and FEWS NET field assessments have also confirmed that households in these areas are increasing reliance on wild foods, markets, and food assistance to cover food consumption gaps.

    Trade and markets: Prior to the outbreak of conflict in Sudan in April, analysis of FEWS NET’s cross-border monitoring data showed the volume of cereal imports from Uganda and Sudan increased in March relative to that of February 2023, although monthly imports from Sudan in particular can be highly variable. Sorghum import volumes totaled 22,649 MT from January to March – 16,749 MT from Sudan and only 5,899 MT from Uganda – filling about 5 percent of the projected cereal deficits for 2023 (459,000 MT). The quantity of sorghum imported from Uganda through Nimule border crossing was 20 percent higher than recorded in February due to increased availability of second-season harvest in Uganda; from Sudan, it was about 100 and 570 percent higher through Gok-machar and Warawar border crossings, respectively due to improved feeder roads conditions, relative calm along the trade routes, above average production in Sudan, as well as increased demand from state governments and traders in an effort to pre-stock food before the onset of the rainy season. Compared to one year ago, the sorghum imports from Sudan through these two border crossings in March were 400 and 2,800 percent higher, respectively. However, the ongoing conflict in Sudan will likely reduce sorghum imports in the coming months, particularly impacting markets in northern border regions. Meanwhile, sorghum imports through the Nimule border crossing from Uganda remain lower (down 88 percent) due to the ongoing depreciation of the local currency and increased domestic cereal demand in Uganda, particularly in districts with a large number of refugees. As such, the combined impacts of low imports from both Sudan and Uganda will affect market supply and drive up prices in markets across the country.

    Staple food prices: Based on analysis of March 2023 market price monitoring data available in CLiMIS, the average retail price of a malwa (3.5 kg) of white sorghum was 10-40 percent higher than observed in February 2023 in Wau, Aweil, and Bor South due to increasing market dependency among households and high supply costs (Figure 5). In Juba and Rumbek Centre, the prices declined slightly or remained similar to observed prices in February due to continued supply flows from Uganda. Early analysis of April price data suggests some atypical declines in average sorghum prices in areas such as Warrap and Unity, likely linked to the ongoing scale-up in food assistance by both WFP and the government, coupled with the improved movement of commercial trucks during the ongoing dry season period; however, the trend is unlikely to be sustained as stocks widely decline through the lean season and the conflict in Sudan interferes with cross-border trade.

    Compared to the same time last year, the price per malwa of white sorghum was 115-250 percent higher in Juba, Wau, Rumbek Centre, Aweil, and Bor South markets respectively, and 215-280 percent above the five-year average in Rumbek Centre, Aweil, Wau and Juba. These long-term trends continue to be driven by depreciation of the local currency and high import costs associated with high fuel prices at pump stations. The high and rising staple prices are limiting households’ ability to purchase sufficient food at a time when their own-produced stocks are depleted or running low, thus driving food consumption gaps.

    Figure 5

    White sorghum (feterita) prices per malwa (3.5 kg) in 4 key markets, January 2020 to February 2023
    line chart showing white sorghum (feterita) prices per malwa (3.5 kg) in 4 key markets (Juba, Rumbek Centre, Aweil Centre, and Wau) between January 2020 and February 2023

    Source: CLiMIS

    Humanitarian food assistance: In April, WFP has planned to reach 3.2 million people with general food distributions and food assistance for assets and given resumption in March of convoy movements in northern Jonglei and GPAA, had reportedly prepositioned over 70 percent of its total planned prepositioning requirements ahead of the rainy season. However, the ability of humanitarians to deliver and preposition assistance has continued to be hindered in some localized places by insecurity and logistical challenges. While March actual distribution data is not yet available, analysis of January and February distribution plus insight provided by WFP bi-weekly updates suggests that at least 25 percent of the populations in WFP’s “priority one” counties of Fangak, Canal/Pigi, Pibor, Leer and Mayendit and in “priority two” counties of Ayod and Panyijiar, have received assistance. Food assistance delivery for the IDP and refugees continues in various locations hosting these groups, such as Kodok Town of Fashoda, although overall food assistance needs are likely to rise with the new arrivals from Sudan.

    Current food security outcomes:  South Sudan continues to face unprecedented high levels of acute food insecurity in the region and globally, with up to 60 percent of the country’s population in need of food assistance. Acute food insecurity outcomes largely remain similar to recent months, with few notable changes in areas of highest concern. In Pibor, Canal/Pigi, and Fangak, the relative lull in conflict has facilitated humanitarian food assistance deliveries over the past few months and has likely mitigated more extreme outcomes characteristic of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) that were previously assessed; however, the levels of food assistance in January and February in terms of percent of the population reached were not sufficient to further mitigate Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. In Panyikang and rural Fashoda of Upper Nile, on the other hand, pockets of households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) likely persist given lack of assistance in January and February outside of Kodok Town of Fashoda. In Renk of Upper Nile, the arrival of nearly 25,000 South Sudanese returnees is expected to increase the population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and increase the demand for humanitarian assistance. Based on the analysis of WFP’s distribution reports for January and February, HFA has reached more than 25 percent of the population in Mayom, Leer, Mayendit, Pariang and Rubkona of Unity, and Ayod in Jonglei, providing more than 25 percent of their daily kilocalorie needs, and likely driving Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) area-level classifications. The planned and ongoing scale-up of assistance continues to be critical to preventing the occurrence of more extreme outcomes.

    In Fangak and Canal/Pigi of Jonglei, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcome remains in April, with humanitarian assistance likely preventing households from falling into Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). This is due to the relative lull in conflict coupled with continuous flood recession since January that supported the return of humanitarian agencies to New Fangak and internally displaced peoples to their places of origin in Diel/Atar in Canal/Pigi and Phom in New Fangak and recoveries in market functionalities in New Fangak and Diel of Canal/Pigi. Additionally, some households have improved access to fish, water lilies and some planted vegetables. 

    Meanwhile, in Fashoda and Panyikang of Upper Nile, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persist, with some pockets of the population likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) given the impacts of conflict and flooding on households’ livelihood assets and massive displacements that occurred.  Key informant and field monitoring information indicates households are already facing food consumption gaps due to limited food availability, and significant security-related restrictions in access to fishing and hunting grounds. In early April, individuals who were fishing in the swamps of Panyikang were attacked resulting in two deaths, several wounded, and the looting of household property, an indication of the high and continuous threats to households while attempting to access food and livelihoods. Displaced households from Fashoda and Panyikang remain in Kodok Town and Malakal with few households residing in Panyiduai and Dethin villages of Panyikang and Owach village of Fashoda.  

    In Pibor county in Pibor Administrative Area, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is likely in April, with delivery of humanitarian assistance in February-March/April mitigating the severity, linked to the relative calm that has generally prevailed following the escalation of inter-communal violence in late December to early January in Lekungole and Gumuruk payams. While there have been rumors of youth mobilization from the neighboring community of Lou Nuer, Gawar and Dinka Bor targeting the Murle, there have not been any reports of further livestock raiding or thefts in April. Although fish are still available in and around some wetland areas and in the Pibor river, overall fish availability has declined as most of the fishing grounds in Nanam and Lotila rivers have dried up as of early April.

    Of additional concern is Kapoeta East of Greater Kapoeta, where cycles of drought since 2019 have led to severe water scarcity for humans and livestock and limited livestock production, with the area likely in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In March, several hunger-related deaths were reported, which triggered an IRNA that concluded the deaths were due to non-food security contributing factors such as illnesses and natural factors such as aging. In April, reports again emerged of hunger-related deaths in Jie payam, which are currently being investigated by OCHA and Médecins Sans Frontier (MSF). In March, based on key informant reports, 5,000 people in Kapoeta East received food assistance and 88 MT of assorted food were already pre-positioned for April and May, with food distribution currently ongoing. While the prolonged drought conditions that contributed to this situation remain of concern in Jie payam, it is likely that the early onset of rainfall in March and continued good rainfall in April is improving water availability in the area.

    Updated Assumptions

    The assumptions used to develop FEWS NET’s most likely scenario for the South Sudan Food Security Outlook for February 2023 to September 2023 remain valid, except for the following revisions:

    • Conflict: Amid continuous efforts to implement the revitalized peace agreement between SPLA-IG and SPLA-IO in 2022, President Kiir has called the South Sudanese parties to desist from violence and noted that an extension of the transitional period by 24 months is a necessary step to fulfill key provisions of the agreement towards resolution of the conflict in South Sudan. Violence will also likely cause further civilian displacement, disruption to trade flows, markets, and humanitarian assistance.
      • Political tensions and direct conflict between the SPLA-IG and SPLA-IO will likely remain dampened given the extended transitional period for implementation of the Revitalized Peace Agreement (RPA) runs until February 2025.
      • Clashes between armed security force factions and armed Nuer youth will likely continue in southern Upper Nile and northern Jonglei through the dry season and into the rainy season, due in part to the lack of progress on the integration of armed factions into the unified national security forces and the continued politicization of the conflict.
      • Intercommunal violence will likely continue in a retaliatory and escalatory fashion in southern Jonglei and GPAA.
      • Fighting between pastoralists and farmers in Greater Equatoria is likely to continue despite the resumption of Rome peace talks between government and hold-out groups in March, as some armed groups have not been integrated into the unified national security force, notably the National Salvation Army. The violence is likely to impact trade flows and the first-planting season, which will have knock-on impacts on food availability and commodity prices.  
      • While the security situation in Warrap State continues to improve given the presence of the South Sudan People’s Defense Forces in the region and their efforts to disarm civilian elements, it is expected that localized and sporadic criminal attacks will continue to occur across this region.
      • Although tensions persist between the Dinka Ngok of the Abyei Administrative Area and the Dinka Twic of Twic County over the ownership of the Aneet area, recent peace initiatives between Abyei and Twic leaders coupled with the presence of armed security forces indicate a positive path towards peace and a decline in inter-communal conflicts between these groups. However, sporadic violent incidents are still to be expected.
    • Internal and cross-border displacements: Based on ongoing local and state levels peace efforts and the current and anticipated levels of conflict and insecurity, localized occurrences of internal displacement will likely continue, particularly in conflict-affected areas of Jonglei, Upper Nile, Pibor, and Central Equatoria, but will likely remain lower than levels observed in 2022. In areas with relative calm, many conflict-displaced households are likely to return to their places of origin in April or May to participate in 2023 crop production. Returns are not expected in Panyikang where the security context will likely remain unpredictable. Previous displacements due to flooding will remain elevated in those areas with continued insecurity, with new displacements likely to occur during the June to September main rainfall season. With the outbreak of conflict in Sudan, cross-border movements of South Sudanese returnees are likely to escalate in the regions bordering Sudan. 
    • Macro-economy: Although the IMF projects South Sudan’s economy will rebound slightly in 2023 (~6% growth) due to increased oil export receipts, the continuation of heavy fighting in Sudan raises concern for the stability of flows through the pipelines from the oilfields in South Sudan to Port Sudan. In addition, periodic disruptions to the ongoing peace deal implementation, fluctuations in oil prices, global financial market volatility, and climate change effects will remain the main downside risk factors to growth. As such, the SSP is expected to depreciate to just above 800 SSP/USD, driving further increase in food and non-food prices and reducing household purchasing power amid limited labor opportunities and stagnant wages. Uganda’s reduced crop production surplus will also put upward pressure on food prices. 
    • Rainfall: Based on the NMME and WMO forecasts, the June to September rainy season is likely to be average, but with localized areas of below-average rainfall across unimodal areas. However, there is continued uncertainty in the forecast given the transition to El Niño, with improved forecasting expected in June.
    • Staple food prices: Based on FEWS NET’s updated integrated price projections, the retail price of a malwa (3.5 kgs) of white sorghum is expected to trend up to 165 percent higher than last year in Bor South, Juba, Wau, Aweil and 150-270 percent above the five-year average in Aweil, Bor South, Wau and Juba during the April to September 2023 projection period, respectively, owing to high household market dependency, reduced import volumes, high transportation cost, and continued SSP depreciation, among other economic factors. The price per malwa is projected to range from approximately 1,450 to 3,300 SSP in all four reference markets, with the lowest price projected in Aweil Centre and the highest price in Juba.

    Projected Outlook through September 2023

    The impacts of poor macroeconomic conditions, conflict/insecurity, and floods on levels of acute food insecurity are expected to worsen during the lean season period in South Sudan, as households in unimodal production areas will not harvest any food stocks until September, staple food prices will remain high, and income-earning opportunities remain very low. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will remain across many counties in the Upper Nile and parts of Greater Bahr el Ghazal, with pockets of households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in Fashoda and Panyikang of Upper Nile. In addition, the likely increase of South Sudanese returnees in the northern border regions with Sudan will add an additional burden on local populations in the reception areas, straining available resources. Nationally, 28 counties are projected to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and Lakes. Of greatest concern will be Fangak, Canal/Pigi, Akobo of Jonglei; Pibor County in Greater Pibor Administrative Area; Fashoda and Panyikang of Upper Nile state, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely to persist during June to September, which also overlaps with the heaviest rainy season and the peak of the lean season.

    Based on current humanitarian food assistance plans, food aid is expected to prevent worse area-level outcomes in 21 counties in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity, and Warrap, where Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) is expected. However, a scale-up in food assistance is still required to prevent large food consumption gaps in areas where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is projected, supported by funding and actions that overcome road and other physical access constraints. Periodic, unexpected disruptions to assistance delivery due to insecurity and heavy rainfall and flooding are expected to limit the capacity of humanitarians to fully implement food assistance plans. In this context, FEWS NET anticipates many households will still face large to extreme food consumption gaps, indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse. Some households in Fangak and Canal/Pigi counties of Jonglei; Pibor County in Greater Pibor Administrative Area; and Fashoda and Panyikang counties of Upper Nile are expected to face extreme food consumption indicative of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) at the peak of the rainy season in between July and September 2023, due to the anticipated negative impacts of flooding and conflict which will re-impose humanitarian access challenges.  

    In other areas, a risk of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) could also emerge during the peak of the lean season, driven by flooding, insecurity, and disruptions to assistance delivery. Although Famine (IPC Phase 5) is not considered the most likely outcome in the projection period, there is a credible, alternative scenario in which Famine (IPC Phase 5) could occur, given the high proportion of the population already facing acute food insecurity and the potential for the severity of ongoing shocks to increase. FEWS NET assesses that Fangak and Canal/Pigi counties in Jonglei state and Panyikang and Fashoda counties of Upper Nile are of greatest concern for this risk, given that large swaths of land remain inundated after the 2022 floods in these areas and given that these areas are highly vulnerable to floods and conflict in 2023. In these areas, if conflict were to escalate, restrict household movement, and isolate households in inaccessible areas such that humanitarians were unable to reach the worst-affected households for a prolonged period, Famine (IPC Phase 5) could occur. A significant scale-up of multi-sectoral assistance is still required in South Sudan in order to reduce acute malnutrition and associated mortality levels and end the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5).

    Most likely food security outcomes

    Recommended Citation: FEWS NET. South Sudan Food Security Outlook Update, April 2023: Assistance needs will increase due to influx of returnees fleeing conflict in Sudan, 2023. 

    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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