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Emergency (IPC Phase 4) likely in Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile states in May

  • Food Security Outlook
  • South Sudan
  • April - September 2015
Emergency (IPC Phase 4) likely in Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile states in May

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  • Key Messages
  • Preface
  • National Overview

  • Preface

    FEWS NET produces forward-looking food security analysis and IPC compatible mapping several times a year for 36 countries, including South Sudan. FEWS NET is also a member of South Sudan’s multi-stakeholder IPC Technical Working Group and an active participant in national IPC analysis workshops in South Sudan. The next national IPC analysis will convene in late April 2015.

    Key Messages
    • Food security deteriorated in April with significant portions of the population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Upper Nile, Jonglei, Unity, Warrap, and Lakes states. Nearly 3 million people are currently in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in South Sudan.

    • The South Sudanese currency depreciated by approximately 26 percent from December 2014 to March 2015. Although the official Bank of South Sudan exchange rate remains pegged at 3.1 South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) to 1 U.S. Dollar (USD), the informal exchange rate reached 8.5 SSP for 1 USD in mid-April.

    • Food insecurity is expected to worsen country-wide in the next two months as food availability continues to decline during the lean season. Despite high levels of coping, displaced and poor host community households will face significant food consumption gaps, relying on humanitarian assistance as their main food source. Needs will peak from now until June when FEWS NET estimates 3.5 million people will require emergency food assistance, nearly 40 percent of the national population.

    National Overview
    Current Situation

    Fighting escalated in Greater Upper Nile (GUN) in March following the collapse of the IGAD-led peace negotiations on March 6, 2015, with offensives from both Government of the Republic of South Sudan (GRSS) and Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) forces in Unity and Upper Nile states. Clashes were reported in Manyo, Nasir, and Longochuk counties in Upper Nile; Rubkona County in Unity; and Ayod County in Jonglei. The security situation in Lakes State remains volatile, particularly in Rumbek North, Cueibet, and Yirol East counties, where sporadic inter-communal conflict and cattle raiding continue to occur. Half a million people remain displaced in neighboring countries and 1.5 million remain displaced internally.

    Foreign exchange and imported fuel scarcity continue to impact staple food marketing throughout South Sudan. The availability of foreign currency in South Sudan remains limited, despite high demand, due to the continued adverse effects of conflict-related reduction in oil production, declining global oil prices, fixed payment for use of Sudan pipelines, and a growing fiscal deficit. The South Sudanese currency depreciated by approximately 26 percent from December 2014 to March 2015. The informal exchange rate reached 8.5 SSP for 1 U.S. Dollar in mid-April compared to 6.4 SSP in February.

    Despite the continued depreciation of local currency, imports are increasing compared to last year. Import volumes of sorghum, maize, and wheat flour—mainly from Uganda—are two to four times 2014 levels, although they remain well-below pre-crisis levels.

    Staple food prices showed mixed trends in March with high variability across markets, but remain above the five-year average in most of the country. Cereal prices declined or remained seasonably stable between January and March in source markets in Juba, Bor, and Torit due to adequate market availability. Prices in more distant markets like Wau and Aweil increased atypically this quarter, reflecting the impact of high marketing costs.  In Aweil, sorghum prices were stable in February but increased by 28 percent in March. In Wau, maize and sorghum prices increased in February by 26 and 13 percent respectively, and declined again in March. Prices in Wau and Aweil are currently 10 and 25 percent higher than 2014 levels, and 30 to 40 percent above the five-year average, respectively. Sorghum prices in Juba declined compared to last year.  Cereal prices remain considerably higher and more volatile in GUN compared to the rest of the country. Prices were highest in Bentiu, where a kilogram of sorghum sold for 11 SSP, more than triple the price in Juba. Marginal increases in trade flow and supply have improved market functioning as a whole in Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile compared to last year, but cereal availability remains low, dependent in large part on food assistance flows (Figure 1).

    Seasonal rainfall occurred in much of South Sudan in recent weeks (Figure 2).  The onset of main season rains began in early to mid-March in the bimodal areas of the Greenbelt in Central and Western Equatoria, and in areas further north along the western border. (Figure 3). The onset of rains was 10 to 20 days early in the western zones and on-time or slightly delayed in Central Equatoria (Figure 4). Above-average rainfall was recorded in western parts of the country, particularly in Western Equatoria State, where more than 200 millimeters (mm) of rain were recorded during the month of March. In the southeast, rainfall was below-average in the first two dekads of March, but improved towards the end of the month. Rainfall was near average across most of country and above-average in parts of the South during the first 10 days of April with between 10 and 50 mm of rain across much of the country.

    Humanitarian assistance remains irregular in many areas and highly variable across counties. Despite improvements in overland transport access during the dry season and stronger logistics capacity, insecurity and humanitarian access restrictions interrupt the movement of overland and barge cargo, causing extended delays to assistance deliveries and food aid prepositioning. Month-to-month food aid delivery trends from December to February suggest assistance was consistent in only a few locations. By and large, deliveries remained intermittent in terms of frequency and number of beneficiaries. In some of the worst-off counties, little to no assistance was delivered between December and February, particularly in northern Jonglei and southern Upper Nile.

    Prepositioning of humanitarian stocks in Greater Upper Nile is ongoing, in preparation for the rainy season. As of the end of March, progress towards prepositioning targets was significantly better in southern Jonglei compared to southern Unity and Upper Nile. According to WFP, prepositioning is almost complete in Jonglei State, while logistics and accessibility constraints continue to cause delay prepositioning in other locations.

    Nearly 3 million people currently face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Food security in GUN has deteriorated significantly since the lean season began two months ago. In response to growing food consumption gaps caused by cereal shortages, poor and displaced households in worst-off areas have begun traveling further distances for food and have begun employing consumption-based coping strategies like reducing portion sizes and skipping meals. Many households are now heavily dependent on food assistance. However, even with assistance, large portions of the population are unable to meet minimum food needs and face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in Unity, Jonglei, Upper Nile, Lakes, and Warrap states. Emergency food assistance has improved food security outcomes in worst-off areas such as Panyijiar, Leer, Koch, and Rubkona counties in Unity and Ayod County in Jonglei. These counties are currently classified as in Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) and would likely be classified as in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) if not for this humanitarian assistance.

    National Assumptions

    From April to September, projected food security outcomes are based on the following national assumptions:

    Conflict: Conflict between the GRSS and the SPLM-IO is likely to continue to cause high levels of civil insecurity and displace populations across GUN. Heavy fighting and related displacement is expected to decline from May to September during the rainy season. Inter-communal conflict in Lakes State is expected to subside in the next two months due to reduced accessibility during the rainy season. The likelihood of an outbreak of conflict elsewhere in the country remains low, despite expectations of rising political instability.

    Market functioning and staple food prices:

    • The informal SSP to USD exchange rate is expected to rise further due to persistent macroeconomic pressures, increasing the cost of imports.
    • Limited availability of foreign reserves will continue to disrupt supply of imported fuel. Persistent fuel scarcity is expected to increase the cost of transport.
    • Despite declining macro-economic indicators, market activity will continue to improve overall compared to last year due to trader perceptions of relative stability outside of GUN.
    • Pre-positioned stocks of imported staple commodities are anticipated to be greater than in 2014 due to increased trade. However, market stocks will remain well below pre-crisis levels.
    • Seasonal increases in staple food prices are expected from May to September, as cereal availability declines and household market dependence increases during the lean season. Prices are expected to remain above-average in most markets and will likely to surpass 2014 levels due to macro-economic pressures.

    A timely start to main season rains is expected with near-average May to September rainfall across much of South Sudan. Current observations and forecasts indicate a timely start to March to May seasonal rains with average to above-average cumulative totals, except in the southeast, where there is an increased likelihood for below-average rains (Figure 5). FEWS NET assumes near-average overall June to September rains, based on weakly negative Indian Ocean Dipole (IOD) conditions, coupled with near-neutral ENSO conditions, which typically result in near-average June to September rains.

    Planting: FEWS NET assumes that area planted for the main 2015 agricultural season will be near average in most of the country, except in areas affected by conflict.

    Food and income sources: Above-average prices are expected to reduce household access to food, particularly during the lean season from May to July, when poor households are most market dependent. Food and income sources will likely remain below average in GUN and Lakes State due to conflict and displacement.

    Livestock: Conflict in GUN and Lakes State is likely to continue to disrupt traditional livestock migration patterns and livestock movement from conflict to non-conflict areas in Western, Central and Eastern Equatoria states will likely disrupt agricultural activities in some areas.

    Humanitarian assistance:

    • Delivery of food assistance to conflict-affected populations is likely to remain inconsistent, given trends in food aid deliveries over the last six months which remained below targets in many areas.
    • Despite prepositioning in some areas, ongoing humanitarian access and logistical constraints, combined with declining road accessibility during the rainy season suggests that humanitarian assistance deliveries are not likely to improve, and will likely decline in hard-to-reach areas.
    • Extended reliance on air operations is likely to impact delivery capacity during the rainy season from April to June.
    • Due to uncertainty about funding after June, humanitarian assistance was not considered in projected outcomes for July to September.

    Nutrition and mortality: The prevalence of acute malnutrition is expected to rise in the coming months due to the typical seasonal increase that occurs during the March to June season. In GUN, FEWS NET assumes acute malnutrition will reach

    Serious to Critical levels similar to last year, with an estimated prevalence of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) of 15 to 30 percent due to a combination of ongoing conflict-related disruptions in access to health services and targeted feeding programs, the seasonal increase of acute respiratory infections and malaria cases, associated with the rainy season and an expected deterioration in food security. The number of non-violent deaths is expected to rise and peak between April and June as the incidence of seasonal morbidity rises and food availability declines.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    April to June 2015: Food insecurity is expected to worsen country-wide as food availability and access decline and the lean season peaks. The size of the food insecure population is expected to reach 3.5 million people during this period, which represents a 40 percent increase from March. Prolonged food deficits are expected to cause elevated levels of acute malnutrition and mortality in worst-off areas. Humanitarian assistance will increase food consumption in many areas, but likely not in sufficient quantities to bridge food deficits, especially in worst-off areas. Food security outcomes are expected to deteriorate to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in Nasir, Ulang, Baliet, and Panyikang counties in Upper Nile; Canal, Fangak, and Ayod counties in Jonglei; and Panyijiar, Mayendit, and Koch counties in Unity.

    July to September 2015: Food availability will begin to improve in many areas in July/August as green harvests, fish, and wild foods (particularly water lily) become available, even in the absence of humanitarian assistance. However, conflict and insecurity will continue to restrict food access in Rubkona (Unity), and across central Jonglei and southern Upper Nile where poor and IDP households are likely to remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4).


    For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.

    Figures Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Figure 1

    Seasonal calendar for a typical year

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security outcomes, April, 2015

    Figure 2

    Current food security outcomes, April, 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 1. Market functioning and trade flow as of March 25, 2015

    Figure 3

    Figure 1. Market functioning and trade flow as of March 25, 2015

    Source: FEWS NET

    Figure 2. Estimated rainfall (mm), March 1 to  April 12, 2015

    Figure 4

    Figure 2. Estimated rainfall (mm), March 1 to April 12, 2015

    Source: FEWS NET/NOAA

    Figure 3. Onset of rains, as of April 1, 2015

    Figure 5

    Figure 3. Onset of rains, as of April 1, 2015

    Source: FEWS NET/ USGS

    Figure 4. Onset of rains compared to the median, as of April 1, 2015

    Figure 6

    Figure 4. Onset of rains compared to the median, as of April 1, 2015

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) seasonal rainfall forecast, March to May, 2015

    Figure 7

    IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) seasonal rainfall forecast, March to May, 2015

    Source: ICPAC

    Figure 8


    To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.

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