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Heavy fighting causes large-scale displacement and suspension of humanitarian assistance in Unity and Upper Nile States

  • Food Security Outlook Update
  • South Sudan
  • May 2015
Heavy fighting causes large-scale displacement and suspension of humanitarian assistance in Unity and Upper Nile States

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  • Key Messages
  • Current Situation
  • Updated Assumptions
  • Projected outlook through September 2015
  • Key Messages
    • Violent conflict in Unity and Upper Nile states since late April has displaced over 100,000 people in Unity alone, according to aid agency estimates. The majority humanitarian agencies have temporarily suspended operations in central and southern Unity and parts of Upper Nile including Malakal and Melut counties. Many markets in these areas are significantly disrupted or not functioning. 

    • Staple food prices rose sharply in April in  Juba, Wau, and Aweil, limiting access to markets during the lean season when poor households increase reliance on markets for food. 

    • Food insecurity is currently at Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels across large areas of South Sudan. Although food security will improve in late July/early  August as green harvesting begins, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) will likely persist across much of Greater Upper Nile through September, given expectations of limited cultivation in conflict-affected areas. 


    Current Situation

    A significant escalation of conflict in Unity and Upper Nile states caused large-scale displacement and forced aid agencies to temporarily suspsend emergency assistance delivery in several counties, drastically reducing access to food. Large-scale military offensives between government and opposition forces in Rubkona, Guit, Leer, and Koch counties in Unity displaced over 100,000 people in May, according to aid agency estimates. The heavy fighting and insecurity impeded access  and caused humanitarian organizations to evacuate staff and temporarily suspend programs in much of central and southern Unity. Humanitarian assistance delivery was also  suspended in parts of Upper Nile due to fighting in Malakal, Akoka, and Melut counties. Markets in these areas—which had begun to recover—are either not functioning or operating at very low levels.

    This surge in conflict and displacement occurred when acute food insecurity was already at Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) levels in these areas with large portions of the population dependant on humanitarian assistance as a main source of food. These new shocks have further reduced access to food for poor and displaced households, many of which were already unable to meet basic survival needs, even with extreme coping. In addition, despite a timely start to main season rainfall in these areas, fighting and displacement has prevented many households from planting, which typically occurs in May and early June.

    Outside of Greater Upper Nile, staple food prices remain well above-average and continue to rise atypically due to continued increases in import and marketing costs associated with local currency depreciation. Between March and April, the price of sorghum rose by 47 percent in Aweil, and 44 percent in Wau and Juba. Compared to last year, sorghum prices increased by 83 percent in Awiel, 70 percent in Wau, and 44 percent in Juba. Current price levels are more than double the five-year average in Wau and Awiel and 60 percent above-average in Juba. Coupled with  reduced income opportunities, these price shocks have compromised households’  ability to access food.


    Updated Assumptions

    Assumptions made in the South Sudan Food Security Outlook for April to September 2015 remain unchanged.


    Projected outlook through September 2015

    Further deteroation in food security is expected, along with an increase in the size of the food insecure population, particularly in areas where renewed conflict and displacement has further reduced access to seasonal food and income sources, already well below average. Widespread market disruption, limited trade flow, and significant interuptions in food assistance delivery is expected to further limit local food availability. Ongoing insecurity is also likely to limit the provision of health and nutritional support services to the worst-affected populations. The combination of these factors, in addition to an expected further decline in area planted compared to last year, large portions of the population in Greater Upper Nile will likely remain in Crisis (IPC 3 Phase) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through September.

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2

    Source:

    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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