Download the Report
South Sudan remains one of the most food insecure countries globally and in the East Africa region, with over 60 percent of the population expected to be acutely food insecure between June and September. With insufficient means of producing or purchasing food, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will be widespread at the peak of the lean season. Household stocks depleted earlier than usual in many areas, income-generating opportunities remain limited, and staple food prices are atypically high, exacerbated by disrupted trade flows and increased demand related to the conflict in Sudan and influx of refugees and returnees. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes – associated with large food consumption gaps and elevated levels of acute malnutrition and mortality – are assessed in 40 counties, mainly in Upper Nile, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Lakes, Warrap, Unity, and Jonglei. Amid this high level of need, WFP plans to provide food aid to 2.9 million people (23 percent of the population) per month through August.
Levels of acute food insecurity will remain elevated, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in many areas through the harvest period, given anticipated conflict and the forecasts of below-average rainfall in the east where crop production is already typically limited and households may only harvest a few months of stocks. Given the long-term erosion of production and coping capacity due to conflict and floods, seasonal improvements in food availability and access will be limited as many households face physical and financial barriers to land and inputs. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes are expected to be widespread from October to January with only marginal improvement after the first season harvest in Greater Equatoria in June and the main harvest beginning in October.
Fangak and Canal/Pigi of northern Jonglei and Panyikang and Fashoda of Upper Nile remain among the areas of highest concern during both the lean and harvest seasons after multiple flood years and the escalation of conflict in 2022 that eroded assets and led to the near-collapse of local livelihoods. While the relative lull in conflict since early January has facilitated some improved access to food and income sources as well as delivery of assistance in northern Jonglei, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes with households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) are expected to persist, particularly in parts of Fashoda and Panyikang where access to food and income is severely limited and the provision of food aid has been low.
Other northern border regions are also of high concern, as the ongoing conflict in Sudan has led to the influx of over 130,000 people in urgent need of assistance and reduced market functionality. Rising needs and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected during the harvest in counties such as Renk in Upper Nile, Aweil North and East in Northern Bahr el Ghazel, amid increased competition over scarce resources and insecurity that limits access to food and income.
While not the most likely outcome, FEWS NET assesses there remains a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in South Sudan, particularly in the Upper Nile-Jonglei border region. While recent trends and forecasts suggest the likelihood of escalating conflict or catastrophic flooding is declining, these areas have very high levels of acute food insecurity and malnutrition, and a resurgence of conflict and/or flooding still poses a risk of isolating households from already-scarce sources of food.
South Sudan continues to face extremely high levels of acute food insecurity, with over 60 percent of the population anticipated to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes. The widespread loss of productive assets due to years of conflict and floods continues to undermine households’ capacity to cope with shocks and rebuild their livelihoods. As the lean season peaks in July and August, communities are expected to have large food consumption gaps, while levels of acute malnutrition and mortality – linked to both hunger and disease – will remain concerningly high. Against this backdrop, recent reductions in levels of active conflict and declining flood extent – particularly in the areas of highest concern along the Upper Nile and Jonglei border, where it remains likely that households are in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) – have yet to translate in a decline in the severity of acute food insecurity. Moreover, conflict dynamics remain unstable due to the underlying politicization of conflict, slow progress on the integration of national security forces, high levels of displacement, and competition over natural resources. Close monitoring of volatile conflict dynamics, as well as flood risk, remains vital given the potential for these factors to isolate households from hunting, fishing, and gathering grounds, food aid, and other food sources during the lean season. If such a scenario occurs, affected populations would have little to no capacity to cope and a rapid increase in hunger, malnutrition, and deaths would be likely. As such, while it is not the most likely outcome, FEWS NET assesses a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists in South Sudan.
However, recent trends suggest a decline in the risk factors associated with such a scenario. The last major incidence of conflict in the Upper Nile-Jonglei border region occurred in December 2022, with a few isolated incidents occurring in the six months that have elapsed since then, most recently in the Malakal Protection of Civilians (POC) site due to tensions over over-crowded conditions and scarce resources (Figure 1). Overall, however, reduced insecurity and receding floodwaters have increased household mobility, facilitating the voluntary return of many households to their homesteads to engage in livelihood activities, including planting for the harvest. Humanitarians have also been able to pre-position considerable amounts of food assistance in the area in advance of the rainy season, with plans to reach over half of the population in Canal/Pigi and Fangak and 45 percent of the population in Malakal. Flooding during the main rainy season does remain a concern given currently high river levels and residual flood extent in localized areas of Jonglei and Upper Nile – as well as Unity and Lakes – but the likelihood of it meeting or exceeding the severity of the last four years is declining given forecasts of below-average rainfall this season (Figure 2). While levels of crop production remain limited in these areas and recovery of livestock herd sizes will take many years, some marginal improvements in food availability and access are expected, particularly after the main harvest begins in October.
FEWS NET will continue to closely monitor and regularly re-evaluate the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) across South Sudan as the rainy season progresses, relying on ground information, conflict analyses and flood forecasting, and historical trends. While the likelihood of clashes escalating into a coordinated large-scale conflict that targets specific communities is currently considered low amid national, state, and local peace initiatives, sporadic conflict is still likely to occur, including after the harvest when food stocks are more widely available. The conflict in Sudan adds an element of uncertainty, marked by a large influx of returnees and significant disruption to trade flows that have caused staple food prices to rise more steeply during the lean season. Additionally, given that access to humanitarian aid has historically played a role in intercommunal tensions, the improved flow of aid combined with increased needs and elevated prices also fuels a risk of clashes.
Conflict and displacements: Nationally, conflict remains relatively low amidst ongoing peace efforts at national, state, and local levels. In mid-May, General Johnson Olony, the leader of Agwelek forces, returned to Juba and met with the President on June 7th, one result of which was an initial agreement to move forward with the integration of his forces into the national armed forces, although a timeline remains to be revealed. In this context of relative calm, flood- and conflict-displaced people in areas of south-western Upper Nile and northern Jonglei are beginning to return to their places of origin and WFP has reportedly been able to pre-position over 80 percent of its planned prepositioning requirements in Jonglei and Upper Nile, coupled with timely availability of funding amidst funding gaps and sporadic road ambushes and disruptions. Nonetheless, peace remains unstable amid slow progress towards agreed-upon benchmarks and politicization of the conflict, with the international community signaling concern most recently via the renewal of the arms embargo by the Security Council on May 31. Additionally, the ongoing preparations for the upcoming elections in 2024 are likely to trigger tensions and localized disruptions.
Of additional concern is the ongoing conflict in Sudan between Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and Rapid Support Forces (RSF) which continues to displace and threaten the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people. According to UNHCR and IOM, over 140,000 people have arrived in South Sudan as of late June, with the majority of them South Sudanese returnees (more than 90 percent). Most are arriving in Renk of Upper Nile (about 75 percent), with the rest crossing at points along the border in Abyei Region, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Western Bahr el Ghazal. This influx of displaced persons in areas with residually high levels of acute food insecurity and high internal displacement is putting additional pressure on scarce food and income sources, as well as on limited humanitarian assistance. This is likely to lead to increased localized tensions over access to the available resources and basic services, as seen in the eruption of inter-communal clashes within Malakal POC in June. In addition, the conflict in Sudan has significantly disrupted trade flows and market supplies leading to high commodity prices and further driving up food assistance needs.
In southern parts of the country, including Ombaci and Lasu of Yei County and parts of rural Morobo of Central Equatoria, insecurity and sporadic fighting in early June involving unknown armed forces and the SSPDF, have disrupted the supply of local produce from the villages to the markets as well the flow of imported goods from Uganda into Morobo and Yei counties. In Tonj North of Warrap and Rumbek Centre, Rumbek East, and Yirol East of Lakes, sporadic violent clashes, cattle looting, and killings continue to be reported.
First season rainfall performance and production: The March to May first rainfall season ended with mixed performance across the bimodal zone. Most of Eastern Equatoria, Central Equatoria, and southern Lakes received cumulatively below average rainfall with deficits of up to 30 percent of normal, while most of Western Equatoria and southern parts of Western Bahr el Ghazal received up to 30 percent above normal, cumulatively (Figure 3). Field monitoring and key informants report that most maize and groundnuts crops are at maturity stage in Yambio, Tambura, Maridi, Ibba, and Nzara of Western Equatoria, with some households in Obbo of Magwi in Eastern Equatoria; Yei and Morobo of Central Equatoria; and Yambio, Tambura, Maridi, Ibba, and Nzara of Western Equatoria currently consuming green maize. Meanwhile, due to poor spatial distribution of rainfall in parts of Ifwoto, Imurok of Torit county; Obbo, Palotaka, Palwar of Magwi county; and Lopit hills of Eastern Equatoria; and Yei, Lainya, and Morobo counties of Central Equatoria, both maize and groundnuts crops are still in late vegetative to flowering stages when typically by mid-to-late June crops are expected to be at seed formation to maturity stage. Key informant report rainfall deficit in May and early June has resulted in wilting of maize and groundnut crop in Ezo and Mundri counties of Western Equatoria, and rural Juba of Central Equatoria. In Eastern Equatoria, periods of heavy rainfall contributed to overall above-average cumulative rainfall that masks the poor temporal distribution characterized by long dry spells. Key informants corroborate that the uneven distribution and dry spells occurring between late April and early June are causing short-maturing sorghum crops to dry up in Kapoeta counties. Given the mixed performance of the rains across the Equatorias from March to May (Figure 3), the 2023 first-season harvest is likely to be lower than last year in Eastern and Central Equatoria but similar to last year in Western Equatoria.
Source: FEWS NET/USGS
Main rainfall season onset and progress: The main June to September rainfall season started 10-20 days early in many parts of south-western, eastern-central, and north-western unimodal South Sudan while being delayed about 10 days across much of Upper Nile and parts of northern Jonglei, with longer delays of up to 20-30 days in southern Upper Nile (Figure 4). Despite early onset, poor rainfall performance in early June has impacted crop development while late onset in other areas has delayed land preparation and planting, negatively impacting the start of this year’s main agricultural season. According to satellite-based vegetative monitoring information, measured by the Normalized Vegetation Difference Index (NDVI), most areas in Warrap, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, central-northern Jonglei, and Upper Nile are experiencing below-average vegetation conditions, reflecting poor soil moisture and crop growth conditions (Figure 5). Key informants and field monitoring reports corroborate generally poor seasonal progress in Aweil East and North of Northern Bahr el Ghazal; Lull, and Dethwok of Fashoda county, as well as Renk and Maiwut counties of Upper Nile; Duk, Akobo, and Fangak of Jonglei; Pariang, Leer, and Mayendit of Unity; and most parts of Lakes State. In Vertheth, Pibor, and Gumuruk areas of Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA), planted maize, groundnuts, and short-maturing sorghum that are in early vegetive stages have also wilted due to rainfall deficits in May and early June.
Source: FEWS NET/USGS
Seasonal Flooding: Residual flood waters from 2022 flooding have receded sufficiently to allow improved access and movement of households in many of the flood-affected areas, except in parts of Rubkona and Mayom of Unity state where high flood extents persist. While no flooding events have been reported as of late June and overall forecasts for the main rainy season remain below-average, severe flooding could potentially emerge in localized areas given the persistent high river flows at the start of the rainy season that are at broadly similar levels as seen at the same time of year in the past four flood years (Figure 11). If localized severe flooding occurs, it could result in increased displacement, loss of lives, disruption of livelihoods, and negatively impact household access to food and income sources.
Livestock production: With the start of the rainy season and beginning of pasture regeneration, livestock body conditions are gradually improving from poor to fair in some parts of pastoral and agropastoral zones, including Torit of Eastern Equatoria; Duk of Jonglei; Mayendit, Leer of Unity; Tonj East, Tonj South, and Twic of Warrap; Aweil Centre and Aweil South of Northern Bahr el Ghazal; and Rumbek North of Lakes. However, the delayed onset in southern parts of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Lakes, central Jonglei, Pibor AA, and central Unity, combined with livestock movement restrictions and limited access to grazing resources due to intercommunal conflict and revenge attacks, is contributing to generally poor body conditions that negatively impact milk yield and supply. Even in areas seeing improved livestock body conditions, households’ access to livestock products continues to vary due to delayed return of livestock from dry season grazing areas; livestock losses due to raiding, conflict and disease (for example, 100 head of cattle were killed in an outbreak of Trypanosomiasis in Aweil Centre in May 2023); and long-term impacts of conflict, flooding, and disease outbreaks on livestock ownership rates. In addition, the ongoing insecurity in border regions with Sudan has significantly disrupted livestock trade across the border which is reducing household incomes from livestock sales (and additional details in AOC section on page 11), affecting their financial access to cereals, and driving poor consumption among pastoral and agropastoral households who normally rely on livestock sales to purchase cereals during the lean season.
Trade flow and markets: In the first quarter of 2023 (January-March), the volume of sorghum trade from Uganda declined considerably, down 78, 98, and 99 percent, respectively lower than recorded in the last quarter of 2022, the same period last year, and the five-year average due to below-average production in Uganda, high domestic demand, and depreciation of the local currency. By contrast, sorghum trade coming from Sudan improved considerably in the first quarter of the year due to the above-average production in Sudan and higher prices in South Sudan. However, following the outbreak of conflict in Sudan in April and the depletion of last season’s supply in Uganda, trade has further declined: the volume of sorghum from Sudan to South Sudan declined by 47 percent between April and May 2023 and field reports confirm that flows have been very limited via Abyei, Warawar, and Renk due to the conflict (Figure 6). Imports of maize flour, maize grain, and sorghum from Uganda also reduced between April to May: the volumes of each respectively via Nimule in May 2023 were 62, 77, and 83 percent lower than recorded in April, respectively, due to aforementioned factors. While trade from Sudan is currently occurring via Gok Machar, with the quantity of sorghum imported reaching 454.4 percent higher than the recorded volume in April as trade is re-routed from the other border crossing points at Abyei and Warawar, the overall volume of cross-border trade volume remains significantly lower, impacted market supplies and commodity prices across the country. Given the conflict in Sudan, cross-border trade dynamics are likely to continue to shift, with more imports coming from Uganda, thus driving up second-quarter imports from Uganda.
Source: FEWS NET
Macroeconomy: South Sudan’s Gross Domestic Production (GDP) is expected to grow by 5.6 percent after successive years of economic contraction, driven by improvements in oil production and revenue. However, external factors such as high interest rates in the United States, global crude oil price fluctuations, and conflict-related disruptions in Sudan are negatively impacting domestic investments, foreign currency supply, and fanning inflationary pressures. These factors, combined with impacts of protracted domestic conflict and flooding on national agricultural production and tight regional cereal supplies, have further increased inflation from 5.3 percent projected in 2021/22 to 16 percent in 2022/23, driven primarily by rising food prices. Despite the positive prospect of South Sudan’s economic growth in 2023, sustained crude oil exports through Port Sudan, 5.8 million dollars grant from African Development Bank in May on top of the March 2023 IMF loan of 114 million dollars, and continued auctioning of hard currency by South Sudan Central Bank, the local currency has nonetheless continued to depreciate. As of end of May, the SSP was trading at 923 to 973 SSP per USD on the official and parallel markets about seven to eight percent, and 108-112 percent loss in value compared to April 2023 and to the same time last year, respectively. The current depreciation and import inflation are eroding household purchasing power and further limiting economic recovery.
Staple food prices: Although most state and county markets are operational and continue to recover in areas previously affected by conflict and flooding, the continued fighting in Sudan and the resulting reduction in cross-border trade volumes, combined with rising fuel prices leading to high transportation cost, have contributed to low market supplies and high staple food prices. Based on market price monitoring data available in CLiMIS portal, the retail price of white sorghum (malwa 3.5kg) in May 2023 was similar to April 2023 in Juba due to continued supply from Uganda, but five to 30 percent higher than observed in April 2023 in Aweil Centre, West, and South; Bor South; Wau; and Rumbek Centre, respectively. Overall, sorghum prices were 100-230 percent higher than observed same month last year and 180-300 percent above the five-year average in Wau; Juba; Aweil Centre, West and South; and Rumbek Centre, respectively due to the depreciation of the local currency and high import costs. High staple food prices and low purchasing power are limiting household financial access to food and driving high financial burden to meet the cost of minimum survival Expenditure Basket. Market observation conducted by FEWS NET in early June 2023 in Konyo-Konyo and Custom markets in Juba indicated most poor urban households are increasingly unable to afford even a malwa of sorghum or maize grains and are thus resorting to buying sorghum and maize flour in very small quantities such as cup (an equivalent of a half kilogram) for their daily household consumption. In addition, many poor women are reportedly seeking additional labor opportunities, such as working in wholesale stores or cleaning groundnuts, maize, and sorghum grains, to earn additional cash to afford food for their household members as a result of high prices, adding to their economic hardships.
Humanitarian food assistance: Before the start of the conflict in Sudan in mid-April, the overall food assistance needs in South Sudan were already high, with over 60 percent of the population expected to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse food security outcomes at the peak of the lean season in July and August due to the protracted negative impacts of flooding and conflict amidst a poor macroeconomic context. The influx of South Sudanese returnees who join the nearly 2.2 million previously internally displaced, plus an additional 10,000 refugees in the border areas, all in dire need of humanitarian assistance, is straining already limited resources in a context where only 38 percent of the HRP/food security sector is currently funded and assistance typically only reaches between a quarter and a third of need during peak lean periods (Figure 7). Moreover, the number of arrivals from Sudan is projected to increase to more than 180,000 South Sudanese returnees and over 60,000 refugees by the end of the year if the conflict persists. While WFP has succeeded in prepositioning over 90 percent of its total planned prepositioning requirements by June 2023 (98,658 MT of the total 233,833 MT requirement) as it ramps up its lean season response, the incorporation of the needs of an additional 240,000 newly displaced due to the Sudan crisis brings the total target for food assistance to approximately 2.9 million people monthly. Funding and access constraints due to worsening rainy season conditions, banditry, and potential conflict will continue to pose challenges to achieving the target.
Source: FEWS NET’s analysis of WFP distribution data
Current Food Security Outcomes
Although food security outcomes data for the ongoing lean season are not yet available, analysis of contributing factors points to a further deterioration in the food security situation in June, with widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes across the country driven by the impact of conflict in Sudan on cross-border displacement and trade flows affecting market functionality. This is further exacerbated by earlier than normal depletion of food stocks, protracted years of household asset erosion, high and rising staple food prices amidst limited income-earning opportunities, and poor household purchasing power. As a result, large food consumption gaps, indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) are likely in 40 counties in June mainly in Upper Nile, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Lakes, Warrap, Unity, and Jonglei. Available evidence from monthly distribution reports up to May 2023 suggests food assistance has likely mitigated the severity of acute food insecurity in 11 counties including Leer, Mayendit, Panyijiar, Rubkona, and Pariang of Unity; Akobo, Fangak, and Nyirol of Jonglei; Tonj South of Warrap; Abyei Administrative Area; and Pibor County in GPAA.
The large-scale influx of people fleeing the conflict in Sudan is aggravating the already high level of acute food insecurity in the bordering states/counties in South Sudan as the new arrivals need urgent assistance, both food and non-food. As such, the border counties including Renk in Upper Nile; Aweil North and East in Northern Bahr el Ghazel; and Pariang county of Unity that are hosting significant number of South Sudanese returnees and refugees are of increasing concern, where many households are facing large consumption gaps, indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Fangak and Pigi/Canal, and Panyikang and Fashoda counties are assessed to be of continued high concern, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes and some households likely facing extreme food consumption gap, indicative of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in Fashoda and Panyikang due to severe erosion of household assets that is limiting household capacity to produce food or earn an income, as well as low provision of assistance in recent months.
Source: FEWS NET
The most likely scenario from June 2023 to January 2024 is based on the following national-level assumptions:
- Conflict: 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, with elections expected at the end of 2024. The slow implementation of remaining elements of the 2018 peace deal and the nature of the decentralized command structure of the armed forces continue to limit the ability to provide security nationwide. This continues to manifest in the form of political power struggles at the state level, further exacerbating the risk of sporadic clashes between armed factions occurring in Unity, Upper Nile, and Jonglei state. Ongoing poor macro-economic condition coupled with the Sudan conflict could potentially divert government efforts away from addressing critical national, state and border security challenges as well as preparing towards elections in 2024 – one of the outstanding provisions of the peace deal. Localized and sporadic intercommunal fighting is likely to continue through 2023, displacing households, and disrupting trade, markets, and assistance delivery. In addition, the return of thousands of South Sudanese refugees who were residing in Sudan could lead to renewed local conflicts due to land and demographic disputes.
- Internal and cross-border displacement: Based on ongoing local and state level 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 expected to remain low 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 continuation of conflict in Sudan, cross-border movements of South Sudanese returnees have escalated dramatically and are likely to continue in the regions bordering Sudan.
- Macro-economy: Although the IMF previously projected South Sudan’s economy would rebound slightly in 2023 (~6% growth) due to increased oil export receipts, the continuation of heavy fighting in Sudan and disruption of trade at Port Sudan raises concern for the stability of crude oil export prices and of flows through the pipelines from the oilfields in South Sudan. In addition, periodic disruptions to the ongoing peace deal implementation, global financial market volatility, and climate change effects will remain key downside risk factors to growth. As such, the SSP is expected to depreciate and likely to range from 980 to 1000 SSP per USD on the parallel market and around 950 - 985 SSP per USD on the official market to just above 900 SSP/USD, and drive further increase in food and non-food prices and reducing household purchasing power amid limited labor opportunities and stagnant wages.
- Staple food prices: Retail price of white sorghum in key reference markets is generally expected to rise seasonally during the May to August projection period that overlaps with the lean season before declining in the September-December harvest period. However, localized market and trade flow dynamics contribute to divergences in patterns in the projection periods. In Aweil Center and Wau markets, the impact of the Sudan crisis on trade flows will be a major contributing factor to rising prices, exacerbating seasonal trends. In Juba and Bor South markets, while reductions in imports for Sudan will affect supply, it will likely be moderated by arrival of expected harvest from the bimodal areas in Uganda. According to FEWS NET’s integrated price projection analysis, prices at the peak months in July/August are expected to be 1,833-3,193 SSP/malwa, up to 115 percent higher than last year and 100-254 percent above the five-year average, while in the harvest period, the prices are expected to be 1,478 -3,400 SSP/malwa, ranging from 27 percent lower to 54 percent higher than last year’s level, although still 80-185 percent above the five-year average. The persistently high prices relative to the five-year average are a function of continued depreciation of local currency against USD, conflict and flood disruptions, high supply cost, and high fuel price.
- Rainfall: Given expectations of rapidly emerging El Niño and its associations with below-average rainfall in the western sector of East Africa, it is increasingly likely that the main rainy season from June to September over the eastern half of unimodal South Sudan will be below average, while it is likely to be near-average in western parts of the country. In bimodal areas of South Sudan, the July-November 2022 second rainy season is similarly likely to be below average in the eastern half while near-average over the western half.
- Crop production: Although the first-season harvest is yet to start in bimodal South Sudan (typically in June and July), the overall harvest in 2023 will likely to be similar to or below 2022, with localized areas experiencing significantly below average harvests due to the seasonal deficits throughout the season and the continued negative impacts of farmer-herder conflicts. Planting of the main season crops starting in May/June in unimodal areas will vary between states depending on the extent of 2022 residual floodwaters and household access to seeds. However, overall area planted in 2023 is likely to be similar to or higher than 2022 due to the relative calm across the regions coupled with the arrival of South Sudanese returnees. In some localized areas of Jonglei and parts of Upper Nile, sporadic attacks and violence will persist and interfere with planting and harvest, and many of the newly arrived South Sudanese returnees will lack access to land and seeds to participate in crop production in 2023. As such, the main season harvest in 2023 is likely to be similar to or below 2022 in part due to the anticipated rainfall deficits linked to below-average rainfall forecast.
- Livestock: Household access to livestock and livestock products will vary across the counties in pastoral and agro-pastoral areas. Given large-scale flood-and conflict-driven losses of livestock holdings over the recent years, access will remain significantly below normal in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity, parts of Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Lakes. In addition, given the increased likelihood for below average rainfall and normal levels of flooding, cattle raiding events are expected to continue during the main rainy season from June to September, peaking during the dry season from November onwards, and resulting in further livestock losses. In some localized areas such as in the Kapoetas and parts of Pibor County in GPAA, the likelihood of below average June to September rainfall and poor temporal distribution of rains may lead to drier than normal conditions, resulting in limited pasture and water availability and driving competition for and conflict over these resources. As such, household access to milk and meat will remain lower than normal overall.
- Fish and wild foods: Based on the seasonal/consumption calendars, the availability of fish and wild foods (especially water lilies) will increase during the rainy season from August through November/December and remain seasonally high through this period, enabling increased household access to these food sources. However, household access to these food sources will vary across the states/counties depending on the extent of the typical flooding and insecurity particularly in the flood-and conflict-prone areas in Greater Upper Nile and parts of greater Bahr el Ghazal. In addition, access to fish and wild foods during the peak of annual flooding from July to August/September will reduce for many households as the high and fast flowing river waters will make it risky for less experienced households to fish and gather wild foods. However, on the other hand, access will be enhanced in the shallow flooded areas, swamps and smaller rivers throughout the rainy season.
- Trade flows: Downward trends in import volumes are likely to be sustained or accelerated during the second and third quarter of 2023 given the impacts of the ongoing conflict in Sudan on cross-border trade and seasonal deterioration in road conditions from June through December. Although imports from Uganda will also remain low during the second and third quarter, overall volume of imports from Uganda will likely increase during the fourth quarter of 2023 due to harvests from Uganda. Domestically, trade flows will vary depending on the impact of conflict and insecurity and anticipated floods in all regions, as well as by high costs of fuel and transportation.
- Labor demand and wages: While agricultural labor opportunities in rural areas will seasonally increase beginning in May and through the harvest period, wages are unlikely to keep pace with high and rising staple food prices, particularly with the influx of South Sudanese returnees coupled with the likely negative impact of Sudan conflict on South Sudan’s crude oil exports. In urban areas, the poor macroeconomic conditions will continue to limit income opportunities and wages are likely to remain lower than last year.
- Household purchasing power: Based on the continued poor macroeconomic conditions and low or declining income-earning opportunities, terms of trade (ToT) – proxy for measuring household purchasing power – are expected to decline or remain low amidst the already extremely high staple food prices, thus remaining unfavorable to households who depend on sale of assets (livestock, wage labor) to purchase food. The decline of food prices following the main harvest will help to improve ToTs from October 2023 through January 2024. However, household financial access to food will remain below average throughout the projection period.
- Humanitarian food assistance: WFP plans to provide food assistance to 2.9 million people per month through August 2023, reaching a monthly maximum caseload of 26 percent of the national population – the majority in Jonglei, Unity, Upper Nile, Eastern Equatoria, and Warrap where high levels of acute food insecurity will persist. However, in the context of potential funding shortfalls and analysis of past trends, WFP will likely prioritize food assistance in areas of extreme concern with significant populations in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse or areas hosting the newly arrived South Sudanese returnees and Sudanese refugees fleeing the conflict in Sudan. In addition, food assistance deliveries will face disruptions due to insecurity and seasonal floods through the projection period.
Most Likely Acute Food Security Outcomes
South Sudan will remain one of the most food insecure countries, with over 60 percent of the population expected to be acutely food insecure during the lean season from June through September, where Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will be widespread across the country, with many households facing moderate to large food consumption gaps. At the peak of the lean season in July/August, many households are expected to face large food consumption gap, indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in 37 counties, mainly in Upper Nile, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Jonglei, Unity and Lakes. In addition, staple food prices in the peak months are expected to be 1,833-3,193 SSP/malwa, up to 115 percent higher than last year and 100-254 percent above the five-year average. However, based on WFP’s updated food assistance plan this period, WFP will reach nearly 3 million people with general food distribution and food-for-assets monthly from June through September. In 12 counties where at least 25 percent of the county population will be reached with general food distribution or food for asset programs and meeting at least 25 percent of their daily Kcal needs, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) will exist, including in Canal/Pigi and Fangak. Nonetheless, given the erosion of livelihoods by multiple years of flooding and protracted negative impacts of conflict, anticipated impacts of below average rainfall on crop production, and large-scale influx of South Sudanese returnees, these areas as well as Fashoda, Panyikang and Renk of Upper Nile; Aweil North, Aweil East of Northern el Ghazal will remain counties of greatest concern.
During the main harvesting period from October 2023 through January 2024, levels of acute food insecurity will remain elevated, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in many areas through harvest, given the forecasts of below-average rainfall in the east where crop production is already typically limited, many households will harvest only a few months of stocks. Staple food prices are expected to decline slightly to 1,478 -3,400 SSP/Malwa given the harvest, but will remain 80-185 percent above last year and the five-year average and continue to limit access to foods for many households. Availability of fish, milk, and wild foods will be seasonally high although access will vary. Overall, Emergency outcomes are expected to decline, with 18 counties assessed to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) mainly in Upper Nile, Jonglei, Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap, while Crisis outcomes will remain widespread, with 54 counties assessed to likely be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3). Based on the updated WFP’s operational plan, there are no food assistance planned during October to December harvesting period; however, based on past trends, assistance may be provided this period as high levels of acute food insecurity are likely to persist and needs will likely remain high. Meanwhile, Fashoda, Panyikang and Renk of Upper Nile; Fangak and Canal/Pigi of Jonglei; Aweil North, Aweil East of Northern el Ghazal will remain counties of greatest concern due to the protracted negative impacts of conflict, expectation for below to significantly below average harvest, and the large-scale influx of South Sudanese returnees. However, food security will only improve slightly and reduce food consumption gaps for those who harvest crops in the first and main season in Greater Equatoria.
|Area||Event||Impact on food security outcomes|
|National||A further deterioration in macroeconomic conditions, including continued rise in prices of both food and non-food commodities amidst persistent low income-earning opportunities||If the macro-economy deteriorates further than already anticipated, marked by continued rise in food and non-food prices in key reference markets, and accompanied by limited household income-earning opportunities and further decline in purchasing capacity, many households would be significantly restricted in their ability to purchase sufficient food, leading to a further deterioration in acute food insecurity in many areas across South Sudan. As such, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would be more widespread.|
|National||Above-average June to September main season rainfall and accompanied by severe flooding||In the event of a moderate to strong El Niño conditions in late summer and autumn 2023 that leads to above-average rainfall with localized below-average rainfall in some areas, combined with persistently high river levels at the start of the rainy season that has been characteristic of the past several flood years, severe flooding could emerge. If so, further displacements and loss of property and crops and livestock will occur further worsening the already poor conditions of vulnerable households in flood-prone areas in South Sudan. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes in multiple areas.|
|National||Escalation of conflict and insecurity throughout the country||In the event that the ongoing 2018 peace deal implementation and several of the local and state-led peace initiatives break down and the preparations for elections run into crisis, tensions will rise, leading to conflicts and triggering massive displacements and property loss. Many households will face large food consumption gaps in multiple areas. As such, the scale and severity of acute food insecurity will rise, with widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes across the country.|
|Aweil North and Aweil East of Northern Bahr el Ghazal; Renk of Upper Nile and Pariang of Unity||
A) Conflict in Sudan persist for a very long time, driving many to flee to South Sudan
B) Peaceful resolution of the Sudan conflict
If the conflict in Sudan continues for prolonged time, and completely stop both formal and informal cross-border trade through all border crossing points and severely limit oil export through port Sudan, both macroeconomic conditions and market supplies would be extremely impacted. This would further limit household access to food and income opportunities and would drive high acute food outcome in all areas of concern than classified under most likely scenario.
In the event of a peaceful resolution to Sudan’s conflict, cross-border trade activities would fully resume, and crude oil export would improve. This would increase the inflow of hard currency and import supply and drive lower price levels than anticipated. Improved access to food and income opportunities would lessen the severity and scale of acute food security to lower phases than projected.
|Fashoda and Panyikang of Upper Nile; and Fangak and Canal/Pigi of northern Jonglei||
A) Breakdown of the Khartoum peace agreement between Gen. Johnson and the government
B) Above-average main season rainfall
If the peace deal between the government and Gen. Johnson breaks down and the government fails to fully to re-integrate Gen. Johnson’s Agwele forces and to bring on board Gen. Simon’s SPLA-IO Kitgwang forces into the Unified National Security forces, leading to re-emergence of conflict in the southern Upper Nile and northern Jonglei to levels similar to or above the conflict seen in 2022, resulting in further disruption of lives and livelihoods and displacing thousands of households, and interfering with the delivery of food assistance, trade/market recoveries as well as crop production. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes will be widespread.
In the event of above-average June to September main season rainfall, leading to above-normal flooding and destruction of household assets, further losses in crops and livestock and disruption to food assistance delivery as well as trade/market recoveries. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes will be widespread.
Conflict and displacement: As describe above, the conflict in Sudan has displaced thousands of people to South Sudan with daily inflows averaging about 2,000 people per day. Approximately 90 percent have arrived in four counties – Renk of Upper Nile, Pariang of Rweng Administrative Area, and Aweil North and East of Northern Bahr el Ghazal as of late June (Figure 9). In addition, it has significantly disrupted cross-border trade flows and market supplies, hiked commodity prices, and reduced income opportunities, driving up humanitarian needs in these host areas.
This situation is further aggravated in Aweil East and North by ongoing disputes between Dinka Malual of Aweil East and the neighboring Misseriya and Rizegaat communities of Sudan, and the presence of armed Sudanese militia roaming along the border areas that is perpetuating an atmosphere of insecurity. Key informants reported fighting between Misseriya and Dinka Malual youths in Warguet in Aweil East in mid-May that resulted in raiding of unconfirmed number of cattle and causalities of both civilians and SSPDF. In addition to loss of lives and livestock assets, households’ mobility has been reduced thus restricting households’ access to wild gathering. Given that 35 to 60 percent of population in all areas of concern are currently facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes according to recent IPC projection’s analysis, the influx of South Sudanese returnees and refugees and ongoing insecurity in the areas has increased the humanitarian needs, increasing tensions among communities over limited resources and is likely driving increased vulnerability to acute food insecurity and malnutrition.
Source: FEWS NET
Food stocks: While not as severely as in other areas of the country, past flooding events have eroded households’ asset base in these areas and undermined crop production in already chronically deficit production areas. According to the Food Security and Nutrition Monitoring System (FSNMS) round 28 survey in 2022, about two-thirds of households in Aweil North and Renk, and nearly all of the households in Pariang and Aweil North had access to land and reported planting in 2022. Nonetheless, cereal production was reportedly significantly lower than 2023 requirements in all areas of concern, with deficits ranging from 3,000 to 40,000 tons according to the 2022 Crop and Food Supply Assessment Mission (CFSAM) report, affected by prolonged dry spells, pests, and diseases. Typically, most poor households in both livelihood zones SS07 and SS11 rely on their own production for two to five months through March/April, but both IRNAs and FEWS NET assessment reports in mid-May confirm most host households have depleted their food stock by January and were relying on market purchases as well as reducing the number of meals consumed to cope with consumption gaps. The assessment also found most vulnerable host, returnee, and refugee households in Aweil East and North are skipping meals, reducing meal size, and relying on WFP hot meals or going days without meals, to cope with deteriorating food consumption deficit.
Fishing and wild gathering: FEWS NET rapid assessment in Aweil North, Aweil East, and Renk in mid to late May found many households are relying on fishing, wild gathering, and sale of natural products to mitigate consumption deficits. However, the recent FEWS NET and multiagency IRNA assessments found that access to some of these food sources is increasingly affected by existing insecurity in the border region. With most of the swamps dried-up by mid-May, fishing and wild gathering was increasingly limited to main rivers at further distances and insecurity was limiting access to these areas. At the same time, many of the newly arrived South Sudanese returnees are also engaging in fishing and gathering, which is likely to lead to overfishing and tension among the host and returnee households over available resources.
Household income sources: For poor households in both livelihood zones, the sale of small ruminants, fish, wild foods, forest products, including gum Arabic, and labor, with seasonal migration typically peaking between January and June, are key income sources engaged in both locally and across the border with Sudan. Since the start of conflict in Sudan, localized insecurity affecting household mobility as well as border trade disruptions are reducing access to many of these income sources. In Aweil East and North, FEWS NET’s field assessment in mid-May found very limited local labor opportunities with most host households currently relying on the local sale of livestock, forest products, petty trade, water, and causal labor locally to earn income. Across all areas, South Sudanese returnees in transit centers were found to be relying on remittance from relatives and friends.
Seasonal progress: Based on available satellite monitoring information, the June to September main rainfall season started 10 days earlier than normal in areas of Aweil East, Aweil North, and Pariang, and about 10 days late in much of Renk. Recent FEWS NET rapid field assessment in Aweil North and East confirmed that the start of main season rains facilitated land preparation in Aweil East and North, although the insufficient rainfall amounts delayed planting and pasture growth. The report indicates some households in Majhok-Yihn-Thiou of Aweil East; and Kiir-Adem and Jaac of Aweil North had already prepared backyard gardens in readiness for planting in May. While in Renk and Pariang, FEWS NET rapid field assessment in late May found land preparation was ongoing in farming areas of Renk, but the delayed onset of main rain season likely delayed planting this year.
Livestock production: Livestock production is a crucial livelihood component for bridging consumption deficits in all areas of concern. According to FSNMS 28 assessment conducted during August-September 2022, about a quarter to a half of households in Renk, Aweil East, and Aweil North own livestock, mainly cattle and shoat, while more than 80 percent own livestock in Pariang, reflecting larger production and coping potential in relation to other three areas of concern. Moreover, past trend analysis shows that livestock ownership is relatively stable in Pariang, Aweil East, and Renk but declining in Aweil North. Despite the significant proportion of livestock ownership in all areas, the production of livestock is constrained by multiple factors including insecurity, raiding and poor-quality pasture. In Pariang and Renk, the pasture conditions are currently above average, leading to improvements in availability of pasture and browse for livestock that is contributing to slight improvement in body conditions. Field assessments conducted in Aweil North, Aweil East, and Renk in May confirmed improving livestock body conditions ranging from poor to fair. However, key informants report the atypical presence of Arab herders in Aweil North and East due to the ongoing conflict in Sudan that is likely creating additional pressure and competition over available grazing resources and increasing the risk of diseases outbreaks.
Trade and markets: Cross-border trade with Sudan is critical to the functioning of markets in this area. The disruptions caused by the ongoing conflict in Sudan have led to low import supply which are driving high food and non-food prices in local markets in all areas of concern. Key informant report there is limited to no import supply from Sudan via Abyei and Warawar border crossing points, and while there is some cross-border trade activity occurring at the Gok-Machar border crossing point, the volume of sorghum imported in April was 40 percent lower than recorded in March 2023 and likely lower in May than pre-conflict months due to the disruptions. FEWS NET rapid assessment in Aweil East also found livestock trade through Majhok-Yihn-Thiou border crossing has significantly reduced due to Sudan conflict and fear of rising criminality and banditry along the border. Although FEWS NET rapid assessment in Renk in Late May found that informal trade from El Damazine of Blue Nile to Renk of Upper Nile via Maban is occurring, the assessment mission confirmed limited to no trade flow along Khartoum-Joda-Renk border crossing point.
Staple food prices: Although the main markets in all areas of concern are operational, the continued conflict in Sudan and the resulting reduction in cross-border trade volume and fuel supply, on top of already seasonally low supplies, is contributing to below-normal supply, high staple food prices, and limited purchasing power of many market-dependent households in areas of concern. Based on available sorghum price data in Joint market monitoring initiative (JMMI) platform, the price per kilogram of sorghum in May 2023 remained similar to that of April 2023 in Wanyjok of Aweil East, but was 20 to 50 percent higher than April 2023 in Renk, Aweil North, and Pariang. Relative to the same month last year the sorghum price is 70, 76 and 118 percent higher in Aweil North, Aweil East, and Renk, respectively. Despite the disruption to cross-border livestock trade and generally poor body conditions, livestock prices remain high in both Aweil North and East driven by increase in demand for livestock in other states such as Warrap, Lakes, and Juba. FEWS NET assessment in mid-May in Aweil North and East found a medium-sized goat was selling at 25,000-35,000 per head in May as compared to 19,000-26,000 SSP in April 2023 and 20,000-28,000 SSP per head in May 2022, a 32-35 percent increase over last month and 25 percent increase from same time last year. In Renk, a medium-sized goat was selling at 70,000SSP in May as compared to 45,000 SSP in April 2023 and 38,000 SSP at the same time last year.
Humanitarian food assistance: Humanitarian food assistance remains crucial in all areas of concern given the influx of returnees and prevailing host needs. Although WFP planned to respond to 240,000 people affected by Sudan crises in addition to lean season response in Aweil East and North, needs are still far beyond the available resources. Available evidence from analysis of actual WFP food distributions and food for assets distribution data for February-May indicates food assistance was significant in Pariang reaching about 60 percent of county population monthly on average and met 30 percent of kilocalorie need of beneficiaries. By contrast, food assistance levels were low (less than 50 percent reached with more than 25 percent ration) in Aweil North, Aweil East, and Renk. At points of entry and transit centers, assistance in the form of hot meals or high energy biscuits was being provided to new arrivals.
As a result of current deteriorating food security conditions, food consumption gaps have further widened in June in all areas of concern due to complete household stock depletion and limited financial access to markets amidst rising food price and limited income and labor opportunity. The situation is further aggravated by large influx of South Sudanese returnees and refugees from Sudan and significant disruptions to cross-border trade and market supplies in all areas of concern. As such, it is assessed that large consumption gaps indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely present in June in Renk, Aweil North, and Aweil East. In Pariang, where livestock ownership is higher, assistance delivery in past months was stable, and the security situation is permitting household movement in search of wild gathering, Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) outcomes are likely in June.
In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to these areas of concern:
- Household access to livestock products is expected to vary in all areas of concern due to livestock ownership size and past impacts of conflict, raiding and flood. Given delayed pasture rejuvenation, insecurity restriction to livestock movement, and poor body condition, household access to livestock product and income is likely to be below normal in Aweil North, Aweil East, and Renk. In Pariang, access to livestock products and income from sale is likely to be near normal given the high number of livestock ownerships, and better access to pasture.
- Based on the current disruptions to cross-border trade and market supplies, the expected deterioration in feeder road conditions during the peak rainy season, and the associated high supply costs, market supplies are expected to remain low in Aweil North, Aweil East, and Pariang, and be somewhat stable in Renk due to higher available local stock and continued informal supply from El Damazine of Blue Nile. With expected high market dependence, import inflation linked to continued local currency depreciation, staple food prices are likely to remain higher than last year and the five-year average during the June to September lean season before declining seasonally with increased availability of all food sources during October- January harvesting, but will remain higher than last year’s level in all local markets.
- Based on available WFP plans for the period of June-September 2023, food assistance in all areas of concern is not expected to be sufficient to prevent worse outcomes, defined as more than 25 percent of the population reached with at least a 25 percent ration. There is no assistance planned for all areas of concern during October 2023- January 2024 projection period.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
During June through September 2022 peak of lean season which also overlaps with the peak rainy season in all areas, food consumption gap is expected to deteriorate further due to expected below average access to available food and income sources in poor households driven by depletion of own stocks, low market supply and high and rising staple food price, limited household income and purchasing power, and insecurity restriction to wild gathering. As a result, more than 20 percent of county population are expected to adopt Emergency coping strategies such as migrating to nearby areas in search of food and income or seeking community leaders support to secure food or income to prevent extreme consumption gaps—all are indicative of persistence of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcome in Aweil North, Aweil East, and Renk. In Pariang, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) is likely this period driven by average access to livestock products, fish, and wild gathering.
From October 2023 through January 2024, availability of food sources including own production, fish, milk, and wild foods, is expected to increase. Additionally, the price of staple foods is likely to decline seasonally with reduced market dependence and increased availability of local produce in market, which will improve access to market food. However, some households including South Sudanese returnees and IDPs who have no opportunity to plant or produce their own food, have lost assets, and have limited purchasing power in Renk, Aweil North, and Aweil East are still expected to face large consumption gaps during the harvesting period, reflective of persistence of Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In Pariang, increased access and availability of food and income sources such as milk, fish, livestock, and wild gathering are expected to lessen consumption gaps, but likely considerable proportion of household will still face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes.
Conflict and displacement: Although a relative lull in conflict has been sustained in these counties of concern, the escalation in conflict in 2022, combined with multiple years of flooding and protracted conflict, continues to negatively impact the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people. Displacement remains high, with over 52,000 people displaced to Malakal POC by end of last year and the number rising with the large-scale influx of South Sudanese returnees arriving and proceeding to Malakal POC and town. The conflict has also led to significant losses in livestock, with only a few households currently owning livestock. In addition, the severe flooding in 2022 resulted in significant destruction of crops and little to no harvest for many households.
Source: FEWS NET
Recent field monitoring reports confirmed the relative lull in conflict since early January that has facilitated the pre-positioning and delivery of humanitarian supplies in the areas of concern and has encouraged the gradual return of displaced households to their homesteads. In mid-May, the Commissioner of Panyikang County visited Tonga to encourage displaced households to return to their places of origin to participate in upcoming crop cultivation. According to the local authority (RRC) over 4,000 internally displaced people have returned to Uwach and Alel villages in Panyikang county, though many still fear insecurity. Many internally displaced households in Kodok Town of Fashoda County have also started moving to their places of origin such as Lul, Bal and Oriny payams. Similarly, some of the households who were internally displaced to Old Fangak have also returned to New Fangak (Phom) and Atar/Diel of Canal/Pigi – As of June 9th, over 30,000 people returned to New Fangak according to the local authority (RRC) while the number of those who have so far returned to Atar/Diel of Canal/Pigi is unknown. Nonetheless, periodic eruptions of inter-communal fighting are expected to continue as competition for scarce natural resources and available services increases under the added strain of new arrivals from the Sudan crisis, as exemplified by the violence seen in Malakal POC in June.
Status of food stocks: With little to no harvest last year due to flood- and conflict-related disruptions, many households in these counties of concern have depleted their stocks as early as January compared to typically between February and April and are increasing dependence on markets. The high demand for cereals from newly arrived South Sudanese returnees and refugees is also putting additional pressure on the available food stocks as host households must share the little available with their newly arrived relatives. As such, many households are currently relying on food aid, fish, vegetables, wild foods, and remittances from relatives from Juba in addition to some incomes from sales of charcoal, fish, and firewood to purchase food. More generally, households that have little income and face extremely high foods prices are unable to purchase enough cereals.
Fishing and wild foods gathering: With the ongoing relative lull in conflict since early January and combined with the decrease in livestock as a source of income, fishing activities as a source of both food and income have increased among host, IDP and returnee households in Fashoda and Panyikang counties of Upper Nile, and are exceeding typical levels. However, in May, the quantity of fish catch has declined compared to the prior two months as most of the residual floodwaters have fully receded, and the overall availability of fish is at their seasonally lowest point at this time of the year. Additionally, the lack of modern fishing hooks and nets are limiting some households from participating in fishing. The same is true in most parts of Fangak and Canal/Pigi counties, where most of the fishing grounds are accessible given lull in conflict and full flood recession, but equipment and boats are lacking leaving households to rely on traditional methods. The availability of water lilies is also seasonally at its lowest point, with households in Thalier, Tangbong, Keew, Toch, Nyadin and some parts of Jua-bor having to travel nearly 6 hours using local boats to gather water lilies. Availability is further strained as the gathering of water lilies has increased above normal for this time of year given the rise in the number of people (host, IDPs, and returnees from Sudan and internally) with little to no food stocks or food aid.
Household income sources: Based on key informant reports, income sources remain very limited for most households in all the counties of concern due to the significant losses in crops and livestock over consecutive years of flooding and conflict. Currently, there are only a few households selling small ruminants and chicken to earn income. As such, most households have resorted to the sale of fish, charcoal, tea, firewood, sale of labor, and sales of local bread and local wine. However, the incomes from these sources are significantly below normal, given that many households are engaging in these activities (high supply), and many households have low effective demand, hence lower prices. Of these income sources, charcoal burning and selling is above typical, given increasing populations and demand for these natural products for cooking. In Kodok Town (Fashoda) in May 2023, a bag of charcoal selling for 6,000 SSP could purchase about 2 malwa of sorghum compared to sales prices one year ago (May 2022) of 3,500 SSP which could purchase about 2 malwa. However, in Panyikang, the demand for fish and charcoal is lower than normal given that most households are also engaged in these activities. In Malakal, some fishermen are currently supplying fish to Malakal POC to get some cash to purchase cereals, though access to a few fishing grounds in Nyilwak payam near the river remained restricted due to fear of insecurity.
Livestock production: Livestock herds have been decimated over multiple years of conflict and in the recent 2022 conflict, with only a few households in Kodok, Dedhwok and Lul villages of Fashoda having some livestock and most of those in Oriny, Aburoc, Lyingar and Bal villages having none. The body conditions of the few available livestock are generally fair due to ongoing vaccination conducted by World Vision coupled with some availability of water and pastures. Likewise, only a few people in Alel and Uwach of Panyikang County have livestock given the massive looting of livestock by the white army last year. Moreover, key informant reports that most of the households decided not to restock livestock for fear of further loss if conflict re-emerges. As a result, household access to, and consumption of milk is generally below normal, with milk not even sufficient for the children.
Likewise, in Fangak and Canal/Pigi, livestock ownership remains very low, with the body conditions of the few available livestock in Paguer, Phom, Jua-bor, and Kuernyang payams generally very poor due to declining pasture and water availability coupled with diseases such as Contagious Caprine Pleuropneumonia (CCPP) in goats and Contagious Bovine Pleuropneumonia (CBPP) in cattle and diarrhea. Although livestock disease incidents are lower at this time of the year compared to last year, the lack of veterinary services may aggravate the situation. As such, milk consumption has remained below normal/low for livestock-owning households in Phom, Kuernyang, Jua-bor, Nyadin and Paguer payams.
Main rainfall season: The onset of the June to September main season rainfall has been delayed up to 10-20 days based on both satellite-derived information as well as ground information. As such, the land surfaces are drier than usual, with temperatures in Upper Nile and Jonglei and specifically in the areas of concern are above last year and mean (2002-2018). The sluggish start of the rains is likely to interfere with cultivation and timely planting of crops this year.
Land preparation and planting: Based on key informant and field monitoring reports, the internally displaced households in Kodok Town of Fashoda County have started moving to their places of origin such as Lul, Bal and Oriny payams to participate in 2023 crop production season, with some households already completed land clearance in Oriny boma where the sizes of land cleared this year has increased to 3 to 4 feddans compared to ½ to 3 feddans last year. Likewise, land preparation is ongoing in Alel and Owach of Panyikang County, though the size of land cleared thus far for 2023 crop production has remained similar to last year, ranging between 1 to 3 feddans per household. Field monitoring reports also confirm some of the internally displaced to Malakal Town and POC have started to return to Panyikang to participate in crop production. Nonetheless, the season has been delayed in both Fashoda and Panyikang, while most households are facing challenges accessing seeds and tools.
Similarly, in Fangak and Canal/Pigi counties, where rainfall was delayed for nearly 20 days and little to no rains were received in May, the planting of main season crops (maize and sorghum) was delayed. Key informant reported that a few households in Old Fangak, New Fangak, Nyadin, Keew and Paguer payams of Fangak and Diel of Canal County planted vegetables around riverbanks despite the delayed onset of the rains. However, some households in Fangak have already completed land preparation of sizes slightly higher than last year, ranging between 2 to 3 feddan compared to ½ to 2 feddan last year, while in Canal/Pigi, land sizes that have been cleared remained similar to last year.
Residual floodwaters: Based on field monitoring and key informant reports, the residual floodwaters from the 2022 floodings have fully receded in all parts of Fashoda permitting better households access to fishing grounds, firewood collection, charcoal burning and wild food gathering. Likewise, in Atar and Korwai of Canal/Pigi; Phom, Chotbara, Paguer, Keew and Kyernyang, as well as some parts of Toch, Jua-bor and Nyadin payams of Fangak county, floodwaters have fully receded permitting greater household movement as well as recovery of markets in New Fangak and Diel in Canal/Pigi County. However, river water levels remain elevated at levels below that of 2021 and 2022, but higher than in 2016-2021 average, according to river level monitoring data (Figure 11).
Trade and market: Trade and markets functionality varies across the counties of concern, ranging from limited to minimal or no activity with low number of traders due to high cost of transportation and low supply from Sudan. Key informants report insufficient staple foods available in Kodok Town market due to high food prices from the source market in Malakal, high transport costs, and low to no imports from Sudan since mid-April, all of which is limiting traders’ ability to restock.
Based on field monitoring reports, staple food prices are high and rising. For example, the retail price of a malwa (3.5kg) of sorghum has increased from 3,300 SSP in April to 3,500 SSP in May, reflecting an increase of 6 percent and 140 percent compared to prices in April and same time last year (1,460 SSP per malwa). Although some households including returnees are accessing Kodok market for cereals and other essentials goods, their overall purchasing capacity is generally low due to limited income and high prices. Similarly, in Alel and Uwach markets of Panyikang, market supply is very limited due to no inflow of trade from Sudan. Although the trade routes from Malakal to Alel and Uwach remained opened, the prices of the few available food commodities in Malakal are extremely high for traders to buy for re-supply to Panyikang. As such, available commodities prices are very high, with a malwa of sorghum increasing 20 percent between April and May (from 4,300 SSP to 5,200 SSP), and 100 percent from same time last year (2,600 SSP per malwa).
Although the markets in Old Fangak and in the adjacent Paguer payam of Fangak are functioning with a moderate supply volume, markets in New Fangak and Atar/Diel of Canal/Pigi county are still recovering. Similarly to Panyikang, supplies from Malakal are expensive, though there are reports of some food commodities coming from Juba via the Nile River. As such, the price of a malwa of sorghum increased from 2,000 SSP in May 2022 to 3,500 SSP in May 2023, reflecting a 75 percent increase from same time last year due to high transportation cost and depreciation of local currency.
Humanitarian food assistance: Based on the analysis of WFP’s food distribution reports from March to May, food assistance reached about a quarter of the county population in Fangak meeting on average 30 percent of their daily kilocalorie needs. In Canal/Pigi, deliveries were relatively stable month-to-month, but reach was low relatively to the county population (less than 10 percent). In Fashoda, assistance was delivered in May after 5 months of little to no assistance, but did not reach a significant proportion of the population. In Panyikang, very little assistance has been recorded over the last several months, except for 4,123 host households in Uwach boma in Dheteim Payam and Alel boma in Lelo Payam of Panyikang receiving 15 kgs food rations in April. According to the latest bi-weekly reports, distributions are ongoing in Canal/Pigi, Fangak, and Fashoda, with plans to reach 35-55 percent of the populations through the lean season. Key informants report increased sharing of food rations amongst households with their relatives given the rise in the population in need linked to the new arrivals or old IDP caseload.
Current food security outcomes
Although food security outcomes data are not available for the ongoing lean season period, analysis of the available food security contributing factors such as the consistent delivery of food assistance in Fangak and Canal/Pigi since January, coupled with availability of fish and water lilies, are likely lessening the severity of food security outcomes. In Fangak, the higher levels of food assistance are likely leading to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!), while Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is expected to persist in Canal/Pigi in June. According to recent SMART surveys conducted in March by ACF and IMC, malnutrition outcomes remain poor, with Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) prevalence rates of 18.8 percent (CI: 15.0 - 23.3 percent) and 17.8 percent (CI:14.0 - 22.3 percent), falling within the range of ‘Critical’ (15-29.9 percent). Although no recent SMART survey results are available for Fashoda, analysis of the seasonal historical data on the prevalence of acute malnutrition, using the median Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) prevalence for the lean season, is 20.5 percent falling within the ‘Critical’ phase. A historical lean season GAM prevalence for Panyikang County is not available, however, reports from the field indicate that cases of severe and moderate acute malnutrition among children are high (actual figures not available), given the limited ability of humanitarians to provide basic health and nutrition services. In addition, cases of acute malnutrition continue to be reported among the returnee children and pregnant and lactating mothers.
In addition to the national-level assumptions, the following assumptions apply to these areas of concern:
- During the first projection period, the start of the rains will increase water levels in the rivers and in the flood plains which will facilitate improved access to fish and wild foods. While the peak of the rainy season, when water levels are at their highest, typically means reduced access to these wild foods as the flow of rivers is too fast and dangerous, the anticipated below-average rainfall may moderate this and enable better-than-normal access throughout the rainy season. Access will again improve in the second projection period after the rainy season ends and water levels begin to recede through January 2024. Across both projection periods, however, access will also vary depending on the level of insecurity in the areas of concern.
- Linked to the likelihood for continued relative lull in conflict, further return of the internally displaced populations to their homesteads is likely through December/January. With the return of these populations, the area cleared for 2023 crop production will likely be higher than last year. However, the area planted and harvested will likely be similar to or below last year and below to significantly below the average due to the forecast for insufficient and below average rainfall through the end of the season, coupled with the low availability and access to seeds and tools.
- Household access to livestock products such as milk will remain significantly below average as past floods and conflict decimated livestock production and drove a near collapse of the livelihood system in 2022. As such, livestock ownership will remain very low in each of the counties of concern.
- Retail prices of staple foods will remain extremely high, well above last year and the five-year average in all markets in the areas of concern, due to the low trade flows from Sudan, the rise in population and demand, and expectation for significantly below average main season harvests in the areas of concern. If the conflict in the Sudan persists and continues to interfere with cross-border trade, some of the interior markets that rely on imports from Sudan including Fashoda, Panyikang, and parts of Fangak and Canal/Pigi will run out of supplies.
- Based on updated WFP‘s food assistance distribution plans, general food distributions and food for asset program is expected to reach 50 percent and 55 percent of the county populations in Canal/Pigi and Fangak, monthly from June through September, and meeting about 35 to 40 percent of the daily kilocalorie needs, respectively. Currently very little is planned for Panyikang, given that most of the conflict-displaced are still in Malakal PoC and only a few thousand people have returned. As such, planned food assistance will reach only seven percent of county population in Panyikang, meeting only four percent of daily kilocalorie needs. Although no food assistance is currently planned for October to December in all the counties of concern, analysis of past assistance trends suggest food assistance will be provided during this period. Nonetheless, assistance will be disrupted periodically by insecurity or floods in all areas.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
From June to September 2023, the main lean season period, food security will further deteriorate with many host, returnee and IDP households facing difficulty accessing food given the lack of own stocks, low purchasing power, and exceedingly high staple food prices. As such, households will likely depend on fish, and to some extent on water lilies, for which availability and access may also vary depending on level of insecurity and rainfall. In addition, the availability of green harvest—which typically becomes available from mid-August to September—will be below to significantly below average, with the forecast for insufficient rain. The availability of water lilies will also likely be below average between June and September due to the below-average rainfall forecast. Food assistance will be a key source of food for most households who will face large food consumption gaps at the peak of the lean season in July/August. Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) is likely to persist in Fangak, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in Canal/Pigi, where the level of planned food assistance is below thresholds. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is expected to persist in Fashoda and Panyikang, with pockets of the population likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).
During the main harvesting period from October 2023 to January 2024, food consumption will improve slightly for those that plant and harvest. However, with the forecast for insufficient and below-average rainfall, some households may harvest significantly below average resulting in low to no food stocks during the harvesting and post-harvest periods. Households are expected to depend on fish and wild foods, as well as food assistance. As such, many households will continue to face large food consumption gaps during the harvesting period and will likely adopt the use of emergency-based coping strategies—particularly begging or traveling to other villages or camps in search of foods where food may be available. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is anticipated in all four counties.
Recommended citation: FEWS NET. South Sudan Food Security Outlook June 2023 to January 2024: Emergency will persist in many areas of South Sudan through the harvest, 2023.
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.