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Forecasted severe flooding elevates the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in flood-prone areas

  • Food Security Outlook
  • South Sudan
  • June 2024 - January 2025
Forecasted severe flooding elevates the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in flood-prone areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Analysis in Brief
  • Food Security Context
  • Current food security conditions as of June 2024
  • Analysis of key food and cash income sources
  • Humanitarian Food Assistance
  • Current acute food insecurity outcomes
  • Key assumptions about atypical food security conditions through January 2025
  • Projected acute food insecurity outcomes from June 2024 to January 2025
  • Events that may change projected acute food insecurity outcomes
  • Annex: Area of concern snapshot
  • Annex: Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance
  • Key Messages
    • South Sudan remains in the topmost food insecure countries globally, with needs expected to rise to record high levels and some areas facing a risk of Famine during the upcoming rainy season. FEWS NET projects that 8-9 million people, or 65-70 percent of the population, will require food aid at the peak of the lean season (July-September). Years of conflict and flooding have decimated livelihoods and eroded coping capacity, and multiple shocks are converging as the lean season approaches, including an ongoing economic crisis, high returnee burden, anticipated violence in advance of planned elections in December, and severe flooding projected to be worse than the 2020 and 2022 floods in extent and livelihoods impact.
    • Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to expand to 41 counties in June to September with some households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Areas of highest concern with populations likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) include the northern counties bordering Sudan, areas within the Sudd wetlands and along river basins, and hard-to-reach areas of Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) and Jonglei. Many of these areas are simultaneously hosting large shares of the returnee population while facing anticipated increasing sporadic conflict and rising criminality, as well as severe flooding which will likely result in displacement, crop and livestock losses, disruptions to trade and aid deliveries, and elevated disease outbreaks contributing to worsening acute malnutrition.
    • FEWS NET assesses a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in South Sudan from June onward, particularly in north-central Unity and other low-lying and flood prone counties in the Sudd wetland area and river basins. If severe flooding combined with conflict dynamics isolates households from accessing typical food and income sources or assistance deliveries for a prolonged period of time, then Famine (IPC Phase 5) would occur during the June 2024 to January 2025 projection period. A scale up of funding for humanitarian assistance alongside a multisectoral response will therefore be critical to saving lives and livelihoods.

    Analysis in Brief

    Risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) amid projections of severe flooding and heightened tensions 

    Multiple factors are converging towards what FEWS NET projects will be a year of record high humanitarian needs at the peak of the lean season, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in 41 counties, and a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) driven by anticipated severe flooding and conflict. The economy continues to deteriorate as the government’s main source of revenue, oil export earnings, remains stymied by the un-repaired February pipeline rupture. The implementation of high customs and border fees – part of efforts to increase revenue – are aggravating already declining market supply as stocks reach their lowest point and prices of food and fuel rise accordingly. 

    Figure 1. Projected flooding in October 2024
    Forecasted La Niña-driven above-average rainfall and large volumes of water released from the Jinja dam in May 2024 are expected to cause severe flooding exceeding that of 2020 and 2022. FEWS NET/USGS and NASA projections estimate that the flooding could exceed 65,000 km2

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS and NASA

    Figure 2. Settlements exposed to flooding between 2020 and 2023
     Settlements exposed to flooding between 2020 and 2023

    Source: FEWS NET

    Returnees and refugees continue to stream across the border from Sudan – surpassing 720,000 people by late June – joining the nearly 2 million IDPs already in-country. The new arrivals have limited to no assets and few coping strategies. Returnees are settling by the thousands in areas with already extremely limited resources and among host communities facing near-collapse of their livelihoods under the protracted impact of years of conflict and flooding. 

    Household stocks from the last harvest depleted atypically early, driven by localized deficits and high levels of sharing. Households are increasingly reliant on wild foods and aid in June; however, aid is limited by under-funding, prioritization of areas in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), and operational challenges related to insecurity, high transport costs, and deteriorating road conditions as the rainy season begins. 

    Humanitarian access is anticipated to worsen in the projection period. Forecasted La Niña-driven above-average rainfall and large volumes of water released from the Jinja dam in May 2024 are expected to cause severe flooding exceeding that of 2020 and 2022. FEWS NET/USGS and NASA projections estimate that the flooding could exceed 65,000 km2 (Figure 1). If flooding reaches such extents, between one and 3.3 million people could be affected, particularly in flood-prone areas of the Sudd wetlands where flood waters have remain atypically high, and along river basins (Figure 2). The risk of flooding will increase as the rainy season progresses, and could continue into October or beyond. 

    Sporadic conflict and simmering tensions have long been a main driver of acute food insecurity in South Sudan, and are joining the above elements to further restrict household mobility and flows of trade and humanitarian assistance. Resurgent violence in recent weeks in Malakal and Fashoda of Upper Nile and in multiple hotspots in Unity (including Rubkona) underscore insecurity risks in some of the most flood-prone areas. As such, there is a credible alternative scenario from June onward in which conflict occurs in conjunction with flooding at levels sufficient to isolate households from assistance, and restrict household ability to migrate in search of food and income for a prolonged period. With already elevated levels of food consumption deficits and acute malnutrition in these areas, it is likely under such conditions that food consumption gaps, acute malnutrition, and mortality would all escalate and breach Famine thresholds. Of highest concern are already inundated and flood-prone areas of Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile (Figure 2), and particularly where there are high numbers of returnees and displaced persons who are living in overcrowded conditions, lack assets and access to traditional livelihoods, and are unfamiliar with gathering and consumption of wild foods (a key coping strategy in these areas). 

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    The analysis in this report is based on information available as of June 28, 2024. Follow these links for additional information: 

    Food Security Context

    South Sudan has endured a complex humanitarian crisis for more than a decade, driven by recurrent, cyclical bouts of conflict, flooding, and displacement amid poor economic conditions. Following secession from Sudan in 2011, the country was mired in civil wars in 2013-2014 and again in 2016-2018 that led to the deaths of an estimated 400,000 people, displacement of 4.5 million people both internally and across borders, and to the declaration of Famine in central Unity in 2017. The 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) ended the civil wars and ushered in a transitional period, which has been extended up to the anticipated elections in December 2024. Nonetheless, episodic retaliatory intercommunal conflicts, deeply politicized over the years, continue to plague the country. 

    In the past, flood waters typically receded with the dry season from November through January (Figure 3). However, following four consecutive years of severe flooding (2019-2022), recession is not occurring as it has in the past. Hundreds of thousands have been displaced due to flooding, compounding asset losses from past and ongoing conflict, and leading to near-complete livelihood collapse in some areas. Additionally, shifts from pastoralism to greater agropastoralism in some marginally productive areas of the country have occurred. These shifts have cemented vulnerability, given declines in livestock assets and high variability in agricultural production. In late 2020 through mid-2021, the combination of conflict and flooding led to a second Famine Likely classification that occurred in Pibor. While the 2023 rainy season resulted in less flooding, areas of the Sudd wetlands remain inundated and with protracted flood-related displacements. These areas are at elevated risk of severe flooding in the upcoming rainy season given La Niña forecasts. 

    On top of the longstanding impacts of conflict and flooding, one year of war in Sudan has resulted in an influx of over 700,000 returnees and refugees and is aggravating already poor food security conditions. Most of these returnees and refugees are arriving into areas with already scarce resources and are heavily dependent on relatives and host communities for their food needs. Moreover, many of these populations have limited to no assets to re-start their lives and livelihoods. 

    Macroeconomic conditions have remained persistently poor with high cost of living and bleak livelihood opportunities in much of the rural areas. The national economy remains heavily dependent on oil exports with little to any diversification, and has been characterized by steadily deteriorating exchange rates and rising import inflation. Following years of poor maintenance and flooding of oil fields, already declining production was dramatically reduced in February 2024 by a rupture in one of the two main pipelines traversing Sudan to Port Sudan for export. Among other strategies, the government initiated multiple customs and border fees in an effort to raise non-oil revenues that have resulted in highly volatile and even higher prices of food, fuel, and basic commodities. As a result, household purchasing power has continued to deteriorate, contributing to high dependence on humanitarian assistance amid the inability of households to rebuild livelihoods in the worst-affected areas.

    Figure 3. Seasonal calendar for a typical year in the north and southeast areas
    seasonal calendar for a typical year in South Sudan northern and southeastern areas

    View the complete set of seasonal calendars for South Sudan here

    Source: FEWS NET

    Current food security conditions as of June 2024

    Early warning of acute food insecurity outcomes requires forecasting outcomes months in advance to provide decision makers with sufficient time to budget, plan, and respond to expected humanitarian crises. However, due to the complex and variable factors that influence acute food insecurity, definitive predictions are impossible. Scenario Development is the methodology that allows FEWS NET to meet decision makers’ needs by developing a “most likely” scenario of the future. The starting point for scenario development is a robust analysis of current food security conditions, which is the focus of this section.

    Key guiding principles for FEWS NET’s scenario development process include applying the Disaster Risk Reduction framework and a livelihoods-based lens to assessing acute food insecurity outcomes. A household’s risk of acute food insecurity is a function of not only hazards (such as a drought) but also the household’s vulnerability to those hazards (for example, the household’s level of dependence on rainfed crop production for food and income) and coping capacity (which considers both household capacity to cope with a given hazard and the use of negative coping strategies that harm future coping capacity). To evaluate these factors, FEWS NET grounds this analysis in a strong foundational understanding of local livelihoods, which are the means by which a household meets their basic needs. FEWS NET’s scenario development process also accounts for the Sustainable Livelihoods Framework; the Four Dimensions of Food Security; and UNICEF’s Nutrition Conceptual Framework, and is closely aligned with the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analytical framework.

    Key hazards 

    Conflict: Sporadic armed conflicts and intercommunal violence continue in several hotspot areas in South Sudan amid ongoing preparations for the upcoming elections and local peace initiatives (Figure 4)

    Figure 4. Violent events and associated fatalities, May – June 28, 2024
    Violent events and associated fatalities, May – June 28, 2024

    Source: FEWS NET using data from Armed Conflict Location and Events Data Project (ACLED)

    According to the Armed Conflict Location and Events Data Project (ACLED), conflict was elevated in April and May 2024, similar to levels seen at the beginning of the year. As of June 28, ACLED data for June, triangulated with additional sources, points to a slight reduction overall in June, though similar to that of March 2024. In Greater Bahr el Ghazal, tensions have remained high in the Twic-Abyei border region, despite deployment of additional security forces and the most recent local peace initiative held on May 22. Similarly, friction persists between communities where revenge killings and cattle raiding occurred in May, such as southern Unity and parts of Lakes, as well as Warrap and Lakes. As of the end of May, conflict is resurging in Malakal and Fashoda counties of Upper Nile, following relative calm since late 2023. On June 3, the conflict between Shilluk and Padang Dinka communities reignited in Eastern Fashoda and expanded into Malakal, where at least 10 people were killed and several were injured. Cattle raiding incidents were also reported in multiple parts of Unity in June. On June 5, armed youth (suspected to be from Koch) raided cattle in Nhialdiu Payam of Rubkona. On June 15, armed youth from Ruweng Administrative Area raided cattle camps in Rotriak Payam of Rubkona. Subsequently, between June 22-24, 17 people were killed in Ruweng Administrative Area in a revenge attack by armed youth from Rubkona. The violence reportedly spread to the Toma South oil fields where a facility was attacked and looted, causing civilians to flee Pariang in fear of further attacks. United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has increased patrols in response. Elsewhere, in Western Equatoria, hostility has persisted between the Azande and Balanda communities in Tombura since early April, though no new incidents of direct violence have been reported. In Magwi, clashes have occurred between the South Sudan People’s Defence Forces (SSPDF) and the newly formed rebel group (PFM), while road ambushes have been reported in Budi County and along Kapoeta-Ngauro road of Eastern Equatoria. 

    Figure 5. Average daily arrivals of returnees and refugees per month, May 2023 to June 2024
    Avg daily arrivals of returnees and refugees per month, May 2023 to June 2024

    Source: UNHCR and IOM DTM/RRC

    Refugees and returnees: The daily rate of returnees and refugees from Sudan has slowed but the total burden remains high, surpassing 720,000 people by late June. As of June 24, the average daily rate of new arrivals in June was about 900 people per day, similar to April and considerably lower than the peaks of between 1,900 to 2,100 people/day seen between October 2023 and January 2024 (Figure 5). The arrivals since April 2023 add to the 2 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) estimated to be in South Sudan, as well as returnees arriving from Ethiopia, Uganda, and DRC, with the largest shares of displaced persons settling in parts of Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr el Ghazal.

    Weather: The overall performance of the March-to-May (MAM) first rainy season was generally poor in terms of spatial and temporal distribution in most bimodal areas in Central and Western Equatoria, while above-average in southeastern parts of country. Most bimodal areas received 5 to 30 percent less rainfall than normal during the MAM period, due to both late onset of rains and poor total rainfall. However, many areas received moderate to locally heavy rainfall in late May that mitigated some of the moisture deficits in the biomodal areas of the southwest (Figure 6a). In addition, it should be noted that average rainfall in this area is typically above crop water requirements.

    The onset of the main June to September rainy season has been largely delayed in unimodal South Sudan. Across much of the northern counties, rainfall has been delayed by 10 to 20 days, while in the southwest, delays have reached up to 30 days. By contrast, rainfall has arrived on time or 10 days early in parts of the southeast (Figure 6b). 

    Figure 6. (a) Rainfall onset anomaly (left) and (b) CHIRPS cumulative rainfall, March 01- May 31, 2024 as a percent of 1991-2020 average (right)
    (a) Rainfall onset anomaly (left) and (b) CHIRPS cumulative rainfall, March 01- May 31, 2024 as a percent of 1991-2020 average (right)

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    In most pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones, above-average temperatures, combined with the delays in rainfall onset, has resulted in drier-than-usual pasture conditions.  

    Floodwaters have atypically persisted across a large extent of the Sudd wetlands throughout the dry season and into June, the start of the main rainy season. Affected areas include some parts of Unity state including Rubkona, Leer, and southern parts of Mayendit; western parts of Duk; and parts of Twic East in Jonglei. The Ugandan government released 2,400 cubic meters of water from the Jinja dam in mid-May, which is expected to arrive in the Sudd wetlands in approxiately three months time (August/September). When combined with the forecasted La Niña-induced above-average rainfall, catastrophic flooding on par or worse than that of 2020 and 2022 is expected. The National Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation issued a flood alert in late May given the implications for livelihoods, population displacement, and submergence, damage, and/or destruction of roads and infrastructure in parts of the northern and central regions. In addition, a flood monitoring taskforce has been formed to plan and respond to the needs of likely between one million up to 3.3 million people potentially affected by the flooding in 2024. Thus far, new flash flooding events were reported in Wau in late May and in parts of Juba of Central Equatoria and Panyijiar of Unity in early June.  

    Macroeconomic conditions: The deepening macroeconomic crisis is driving high import inflation, volatility and deterioration in the exchange rate, rising costs of living, and disruption to economic acitivity in June. This sharp deterioration was sparked by the significant loss in oil revenue since February, and aggravated by low hard currency liquidity and poorly managed non-oil revenues. The government has secured additional loans of 8.6 million United States Dollar (USD) and continues to draw revenue from the high customs and border fees. Nonetheless, civil servants continue to go unpaid for up to seven to nine months. Even after government auctioning of 3 million USD in late May, a further 10 billion South Sudanese Pounds (SSP), about 77 million USD, in early June, and is planning yet more auctions in late June to cushion the economy, the exchange continues to deteriorate and commodity prices including for fuel remain elevated in most markets and pump stations across the country. As of late June, the SSP has lost five and 210 percent of its value in the parallel market relative to the USD since last month and last year, respectively.

    Staple food and fuel prices have continued their upward trajectory in key reference markets in South Sudan. Generally, food and fuel prices are still very high in most key reference markets due to the high cost of importation, transportation, proliferation of temporary and official checkpoints, and scarcity of hard currency leading to volatility in and ongoing depreciation of the local currency. Based on analysis of price data from CLIMIS, the sorghum prices per malwa (3.5 kg) in May were 15 to 63 percent higher in Juba, Wau, Aweil Centre, and Rumbek Centre compared to April. In Bor South, sorghum prices have remained relatively similar to April due to improved feeder road conditions. Sorghum price increases were particularly dramatic in interior cities (Rumbek Center, Aweil Center, and Wau), ranging from 170 to 215 percent higher than last year and 460 to 570 percent higher than the five-year average, respectively (Figure 7). The increase reflects the sharply increasing costs of transportation due to rising fuel prices, import fees, and proliferation of checkpoints; in May, the prices of fuel at pump stations in Juba, Aweil Center, Torit, Rumbek Center, and Gogrial East were 13 to 46 percent higher than April and 49 to 124 percent higher than March (Figure 8). In Juba, fuel prices have reduced from 3900 SSP in May to 2700 SSP in mid-June in some pump stations – a reduction of 30 percent – due to government intervention to subsidize fuel prices in some selected fuel stations around Juba City.

    Figure 7. Trends in sorghum prices in five key markets, January 2022 – May 2024
    Trends in sorghum prices in five key markets, January 2022 – May 2024

    Source: FEWS NET using CLIMIS data

    Figure 8. Percent change in May 2024 fuel prices compared to the prior month, quarter, and year in five reference markets
    Percent change in May 2024 fuel prices compared to the prior month, quarter, and year in five reference markets

    Source: FEWS NET using CLIMIS data

    Analysis of key food and cash income sources

    Crop production: South Sudan is typically a deficit-producing country; counties in unimodal areas normally face the largest deficits. According to the recently released Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) report for 2023, the last harvest was 8 percent above 2022 levels and 20 percent above the five-year average; however, the national deficit remained at an estimated 388,250 tonnes. When combined with the heavy burden of returnees, large state and local deficits contributed to the atypically early depletion of household food stocks by March and April 2024, according to FEWS NET’s monitoring in Greater Kapoeta, Torit of Eastern Equatoria; Fashoda and Maiwut of Upper Nile; and Leer and Mayendit of Unity. In other areas, such as Rubkona of Unity, stocks had depleted even earlier in December due to low production and high returnee presence. 

    • The poor performance of the MAM rains led to poor or failed germination and poor crop development in localized areas with the highest rainfall deficits. As a result, harvests are likely to be delayed, with localized declines in yield and output. This will likely further prolong cereal consumption gaps at the household level in affected areas.
    • Overall, the bimodal areas typically receive rainfall in excess of crop needs; available vegetative health and crop monitoring products corroborate that production is likely to be average, with the exception of localized rainfall deficits and conflict-affected areas such as parts of Tambura in Western Equatoria. Overall, the first season harvest is expected to be similar to or slightly lower than the 2023 harvest. 
    • In unimodal areas, the main rainy season was 10 to 20 days late which delayed land preparation and planting, though FEWS NET monitoring confirms that planting was nearly completed by late May in Fangak and Canal/Pigi of Jonglei; Leer, Rubkona, and Mayendit of Unity; in lower Pibor County of GPAA; Maiwut and Fashoda of Upper Nile; Jur River and Wau of Western Bahr el Ghazal; and in all counties of Northern Bahr el Ghazal. In areas such as Akobo, Duk, Uror, and parts of Pochalla and Jebel Boma, main rainfall onset was timely (or 10 to 20 days early) and planting of maize and sorghum crops were ongoing as of early June.

    Livestock production: The delayed onset of the June to September rainfall, combined with above-average temperatures in most pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones, has resulted in drier-than-usual pasture conditions and atypically low water levels in June. Vegetation health is 5 to 30 percent below normal across the northern counties (Figure 9), while most monitored water points are at Alert levels across Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Lakes, and Abyei.

    Figure 9. Vegetataive health, measured as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as a percent of normal
    Vegetataive health, measured as the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) as a percent of normal

    Source: FEWS NET/USGS

    • The lack of pasture rejuvenation and recharge of water resources in the wet season grazing areas is further delaying the typical return of livestock to homesteads, affecting milk supply for pastoral households in most counties of Greater Bahr el Ghazal. FEWS NET field monitoring and key informant reports indicate that livestock body conditions are ranging from poor to fair and contributing to low productivity. 
    • In most parts of Eastern Equatoria and parts of upper Pibor, the early onset of rainfall in March into May has provided increased water and pasture availability for livestock and facilitated the typical return of livestock close to homesteads. Field monitoring reports also indicate that where floodwaters have recently receded, including areas of Duk and Fangak of Jonglei; Fashoda and Maiwut of Upper Nile; and Leer and Mayendit of Unity, green pastures have regenerated, improving livestock body conditions and consequently milk availability and access. 
    • Despite some localized improvements, livestock ownership has declined overall in many pastoral and agropastoral livelihood zones, following years of conflict and flooding. The benefits of livestock production as a source of food and income are currently available to fewer households than in the past. Intercommunal fighting and cattle raids further negatively impact household livestock livelihoods. In addition to the cattle raids reported in FEWS NET’s May Key Message Update, cattle raiding in Nhialdiu Payam (Rubkona County) was carried out by armed youth suspected to be from Koch County. Reportedly, the village was burned to ashes and an unspecified number of cattle were taken.    

    Fish and wild foods access: The availability of fish and wild foods is still at a seasonal low following the poor first season performance. The delayed onset of the main rainy season is slowing the typical seasonal improvement in these products. However, key informant reports indicate that households living in close proximity to the Sobat, Nile, and Kiir Payei rivers have access to fishing grounds and own-fishing, contributing to food and income sources for those with access. In addition, wild foods availability, particularly green leafy vegetables, is reportedly slowly improving in Greater Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, and Equatorial bimodal areas. Household access to fishing and wild food gathering remains limited in areas where insecurity and conflict persist, specifically Jonglei, lower Pibor, Unity State, Abyei-Twic border region, and parts of Greater Equatoria Region.

    Market supplies: Traders’ ability to import has been significantly impacted by the deteriorating macroeconomic conditions described earlier, and is resulting in lower-than-normal market supplies and high food and non-food prices. Based on FEWS NET’s May 2024 cross border trade flow data, volumes of sorghum imports declined by five percent compared to April 2024 and by 72 percent compared to last year.

    Household purchasing capacity: The low market supplies and high and rising food and non-food prices including fuel are eroding the purchasing capacity of many market-dependent poor households, and limiting their financial access to food. Urban poor households are particularly affected given their high dependence on market purchases and erosion of purchasing power amid low income-earning opportunities in a depressed economy. Based on the analysis of the terms of trade (TOT) of casual labor to sorghum, casual-labor dependent households could purchase 15 and 73 percent less sorghum in May in Aweil and Torit than in April, reflecting loss in purchase power in these two markets, while in Wau, casual-labor dependent households could afford similar amount of sorghum as in April. However, compared to the same period last year the TOT of casual labor to sorghum was 12, 50, and 57 percent lower in Aweil, Torit, and Wau, respectively. In Juba, the TOT of casual labor to sorghum remained the same between April and May 2024 and improved by 73 percent compared to last year due to larger improvements in daily wage rates relative to the increase in sorghum prices. However, overall casual labor opportunities are insufficient for the demand and costs of living not captured by these TOT are higher than elsewhere.     

    Humanitarian Food Assistance

    Humanitarian food assistance – defined as emergency food assistance (in-kind, cash, or voucher) – may play a key role in mitigating the severity of acute food insecurity outcomes. FEWS NET analysts always incorporate available information on food assistance, with the caveat that information on food assistance is highly variable across geographies and over time. In line with IPC protocols, FEWS NET uses the best available information to assess where food assistance is “significant” (defined by at least 25 percent of households in a given area receiving at least 25 percent of their caloric requirements through food assistance); see report Annex. In addition, FEWS NET conducts deeper analysis of the likely impacts of food assistance on the severity of outcomes, as detailed in FEWS NET’s guidance on Integrating Humanitarian Food Assistance into Scenario Development. Other types of assistance (e.g., livelihoods or nutrition assistance; social safety net programs) are incorporated elsewhere in FEWS NET’s broader analysis, as applicable.

    In May, WFP reached 1.6 million beneficiaries, up from 1.3 million in March and 1 million in April. The decline in April was due to the disruptions to assistance prepositioning (linked to increased transportation costs) and the April pause in UNHAS air services related to the tax on aviation fuel. While data is not yet available for June, WFP planned to reach 2.6 million beneficiaries with General Food Distribution (GFD) and Food for Assets (FFA). As of June 23, only around 21 percent of beneficiaries had been reached due to delays in May distributions and June registrations, as well as security incidents in Rubkona, Pariang, and Uror that disrupted distributions. However, the increase in prepositioning (78 percent of total food requirements has been dispatched) and the full resumption of air drops as of June 18 has improved humanitarian reach more than intially expected. In particular, WFP is prioritizing Pibor, Luakpiny/Nasir, Fashoda, Ulang, and Fangak for air drops. High costs, rainy season-related deterioration in road conditions, and security incidents that interfere with distributions continue to pose operational challenges. 

    Current acute food insecurity outcomes

    Based on the analysis of food security conditions, FEWS NET then assesses the extent to which households are able to meet their minimum caloric needs. This analysis converges evidence of food security conditions with available direct evidence of household-level food consumption and livelihood change; FEWS NET also considers available area-level evidence of nutritional status and mortality, with a focus on assessing if these reflect the physiological impacts of acute food insecurity rather than other non-food-related factors. Ultimately, FEWS NET uses the globally recognized five-phase Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) scale to classify current acute food insecurity outcomes. In addition, FEWS NET applies the “!” symbol to designate areas where the mapped IPC Phase would likely be at least one IPC Phase worse without the effects of ongoing humanitarian food assistance.

    The vast majority of the South Sudanese returnees and refugees who have fled the ongoing conflict in Sudan, and those who have returned from Ethiopia, are currently living in the northern and eastern parts of the country, namely in parts of Upper Nile, Abyei, Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, northern Jonglei, and north-central Unity. Their presence is straining available resources within the already vulnerable host communities and contributing to high humanitarian needs in June. These areas have experienced four consecutive years of severe flooding and protracted conflict that decimated livestock assets and eroded the coping capacity of many households. Many of these areas are also hotspots of ongoing intercommunal conflict and cattle raiding. As such, widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are ongoing in 20 and 16 counties of these regions, respectively. Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes are expected to be ongoing among returnee households and some internally displaced households given low coping capacity, as well as among some households in Aweil East. 

    In central and southern Jonglei and Pibor County of GPAA, households continue to face numerous shocks including intercommunal conflict, cattle raiding, road ambushes, child abductions, and impacts of the ongoing macroeconomic crisis (e.g., high food prices and low household purchasing power). These shocks continue to drive moderate to large food consumption gaps. In Pibor, the protracted impact of conflict plus ongoing disruptions to humanitarian assistance delivery and market functionality, coupled with the sporadic displacement of nearly 1,000 households in May, are driving large to extreme food consumption gaps. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are ongoing in Twic East and Pibor, with areas of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) among IDPs and in far-remote insecure areas. Significant food assistance is mitigating acute food insecurity outcomes to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) in Uror, Nyirol, Akobo, Ayod, and Duk of Jonglei.

    In central and southern Unity and Lakes, intercommunal violence, cattle raiding between armed youths from Panyijiar, and protracted negative impacts of flooding have sustained large food consumption gaps. Additionally, high staple food prices amid low household incomes are constraining household purchasing power and adequate access to foods from the markets. As a result, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are ongoing in 10 counties. Assistance deliveries have mitigated the severity to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) in Guit, Leer, while Wulu remains in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).

    Persistent insecurity in Greater Equatoria, coupled with ongoing macroeconomic crisis, high food prices, and poor feeder road conditions are affecting market supplies and household food access. In Tambura, displacement and ongoing insecurity is disrupting household livelihood activities, including harvesting of cassava, and interfering with access to wild foods and markets, contributing to moderate consumption gaps, indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3). In four counties (Budi, Lafon, Kapoeta East, and Kapoeta North), Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persist in June due to the poor harvest of 2023 (in Lafon), insecurity (in Budi), and delayed return of livestock from distant grazing areas (for the Kapoetas). On the other hand, three counties (Nzara, Ezo, and Yambio) are assessed in Stressed (IPC Phase 2) due to access to cassava and the ongoing green maize harvest. In Western Bahr el Ghazal, especially in Jur River, protracted intercommunal conflict and counter-cattle raiding involving armed youths from Gogrial East of Warrap, and road ambushes have continued to disrupt trade flow, and drive low market supply, and low access to wild foods. At the start of the lean season in June, these counties remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3).   

    Key assumptions about atypical food security conditions through January 2025

    The next step in FEWS NET’s scenario development process is to develop evidence-based assumptions about factors that affect food security conditions. This includes hazards and anomalies in food security conditions that will affect the evolution of household food and income during the projection period, as well as factors that may affect nutritional status. FEWS NET also develops assumptions on factors that are expected to behave normally. Together, these assumptions underpin the “most likely” scenario. The sequence of making assumptions is important; primary assumptions (e.g., expectations pertaining to weather) must be developed before secondary assumptions (e.g., expectations pertaining to crop or livestock production). Key assumptions that underpin this analysis, and the key sources of evidence used to develop the assumptions, are listed below.

    National assumptions:

    • The June to September main season rains in unimodal areas are expected to be above average. The July to November second season rains in bimodal areas are most likely to start with average rainfall, but with increasing probability of below-average rainfall in the latter half of the season. However, there is uncertainty given the long-term nature of the forecast and conflicting ensemble forecasts. 
    • Based on current persistent flood extents, above-normal river water levels are projected to persist over the coming months. Combined with the forecast of La Niña-induced above-average rainfall during the main rainy season (June to September) and the large release of water from the Jinja dam (similar to volumes released in 2020), there is an increased likelhood that seasonal flood extent in 2024 will be above normal – and similar to or worse than – the catastrophic flooding of 2020 and 2022. Based on FEWS NET/USGS and NASA flood projections, the flooding is expected to extend over at least 65,000 km2 (Figure 1) and affect between one and 3.3 million people and more than 10,000 hectares of cropland. However, given limitations of forecasting the spatial and temporal distribution of rainfall with high geographic resolution over the season, there remains a level of inherent uncertainty in predicting which geographic areas are most likely to be inundated in 2024.   
    • Overall, 2024 crop harvests are expected to be lower than last year but similar to the five-year average, given the repeated severe flooding events in four of the last five years. The first season harvests in the bimodal zone are expected to be similar to or slightly lower than 2023. In unimodal areas, main season crop planting will likely begin on time in May/June and may see greater engagement from returnees who have arrived over the past year. However, production is expected to be disrupted by conflict and severe flooding, and is likely to result in area planted and harvests below those in 2023. Similarly, engagement in crop production during the second season in bimodal Greater Equatoria is expected to be below last year due to insecurity, displacement, and lack of access to farming inputs.
    • Livestock body conditions are expected to improve through January 2025 due to increased water and pasture availability. However, given expectations for severe flooding and continued conflict, livestock losses are likely to be above-average during the projection period.
    • While availability of fish and wild foods is expected to be normal and seasonally high through January 2025, access will be atypically low due to dangerously high water levels during peak rainy periods and elevated insecurity. 
    • It is moderately to highly likely that the December 2024 elections will be delayed until at least 2025 due to the large revenue shortfalls and the expectation that severe flooding will signficantly disrupt the ability to prepare and limit households’ ability to participate. In the most likely scenario, the government will will waiit until late 2024 to announce the delay. Consequently, the months leading to December are expected to be characterized by increased violence as related political competition and elite maneuvering drive increased violence and as various factions and armed actors exploit political grievances surrounding the election to recruit and mobilize fighters. The massive loss of revenue and subsequent disruptions to the patronage system is expected to exacerbate politically-driven clashes and to increase extortion kidnappings and other types of revenue-driven violence. As a result of these heightened political tensions and deterioration of macroeconomic conditions, increased sporadic communal violence along political and ethnic lines, as well as escalating criminality and banditry, is expected between June and December 2024. 
    • South Sudanese returnees and refugees are expected to continue to cross from Sudan as the war continues, albeit at lower daily influx rates than recorded at the end of 2023 and early 2024. Returnee flows from Ethiopia and the spontaneous return of South Sudanese refugees from Uganda and the DRC is also expected to continue, but likely at lower levels given anticipation of election-related violence and further deterioration in the macroeconomic conditions in South Sudan. 
    • Sporadic internal displacements are expected to occur, given the anticipation of severe flooding during the peak rainy season that is likely to persist through at least October, as well as from election-related tensions and violence, intercommunal conflict, and cattle raiding.
    • Macroeconomic conditions are expected to remain poor amid continued uncertainty, low likelihood of repairs to the pipeline rupture, and risk of further disruptions to oil exports as the war in Sudan continues. South Sudan’s currency is expected to continue to depreciate despite government and Central Bank interventions and is likely to remain volatile and above 2,500 SSP/USD on the parallel market. Combined with customs and border fees that are anticipated to remain in place, import inflation will likely remain high.   
    • Food and fuel prices are expected to rise steeply during the lean season due to declining supply and high import inflation. Based on FEWS NET’s integrated price projection analysis, the retail price for a malwa (3.5 kg/SSP) of white sorghum (feterita) is expected to vary across the key reference markets of Aweil Centre, Wau, Juba, and Bor South with the highest price range (7,250-9,989 SSP) projected in Wau and the lowest (3,700-6,500 SSP) in Aweil due to level of market integration, supply, and the effective demand. Between June and September, the price per malwa is projected to rise (ranging from 4,167 to 9,989 SSP) due to stock depletion, low import supply, and high market dependency. The price will likely decline from October 2024 to January 2025 (ranging from 3,700 to 7,600 SSP) with increased availability of stock from first and second season harvests and resulting reduced market dependence. Overall, the price is likely to trend 21 to 263 percent higher than last year and 175 to 540 percent above the five-year average in Juba, Bor South, Aweil, and Wau during the June 2024 to January 2025 projection period due to significant deterioration in macroeconomic conditions, sharp SSP depreciation, low market supply linked to disrupted trade with Sudan, high custom clearance fees, and supply cost. .  
    • Trade flows with Sudan are expected to remain significantly disrupted as the war in Sudan will likely persist in the near term, driving low market supply and high commodity prices in northern states. Further reduction in local market supply – particularly during the lean season (June to September) – will be driven by the ongoing re-export of essential commodities including fuel and high energy foods to Sudan. Meanwhile, trade flows from Uganda are now expected to be lower than anticipated through September due to high supply costs linked to newly introduced customs fees and ongoing disputes over the fees in Kenya. Between October and February, imports are likely to increase given availability of new stocks in the region, however supply costs will remain high. 
    • The prevalence of diseases such as cholera and measles are expected to be above average during the rainy season, particularly in over-crowded arrival and transit locations for incoming returnees/refugees that have poor access to water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities and services (e.g., Renk, Rubkona, Aweil East). Disease prevalence is likely to drive high acute malnutrition.

    Sub-National assumptions for Greater Upper Nile

    • Clashes are expected to increase between Padanga Dinka and Shillik communities over territorial competition and between Nuer and Shilluk communities of Upper Nile and northern Jonglei through January 2025, driven by the influx of South Sudanese returnees, the continued presence of Nuer White Army members around Tonga in Panyikang County, and rising tensions amid preparations for the 2024 elections. While the recent integration of Agwelek forces into the SSPDF is expected to have a calming influence, sporadic intercommunal violence is nonetheless expected.  
    • In parts of Unity and neighboring areas of Warrap, Lakes, and Ruweng Administrative Area, cattle raiding and revenge attacks are expected to continue, while in central Unity, sporadic armed clashes between SSPDF and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition (SPLA-IO) forces are likely given shifting allegiances and high tension. 
    • Tensions are expected to continue in north-central Jonglei and GPAA with a potential for an increase during the main rainy season (June through September). These tensions will likely manifest in the form of cattle raiding, abductions, and road ambushes.     

    Sub-National assumptions for Greater Bahr El Ghazal

    • The increased presence of different armed Sudanese militia that are allied to the Sudan Armed Forces (SAF) and the Rapid Support Forces (RSF) roaming along the border areas is likely to exacerbate insecurity in the northern bordering areas. In particular, the presence of armed Misseriya militia along the Sudan border with Northern Bahr el Ghaal Region is likely to continue to disrupt trade flow and livelihood activities in Aweil North and Aweil East and in parts of northern Unity (Pariang, Mayom, and Abiemnhom).
    • Nomadic groups originating from Sudan are expected to remain in Northern Bahr el Ghazal and parts of northern Unity for an atypically long period, increasing the pressure on available grazing resources and leading to high tensions among pastoral communities and with farmers.  
    • In Warrap, intercommunal conflict, cattle raiding, and revenge attacks are expected to continue at or slightly above the levels reported throughout 2022 and 2023. The Sudanese conflict is also likely to exacerbate rising tensions in the Abyei-Twic area. 

    Sub-National assumptions for Greater Equatoria

    • The frequency of roadside ambushes and banditry is likely to increase through January 2025 due to deteriorating economic conditions, high staple food prices, rising cost of living, and increased convoy movement linked to electoral activities that may become targets of such attacks. In addition, violent activity by cattle keepers is expected to continue across the region.  
    • In parts of Western and Central Equatoria, sporadic fighting between the National Salvation Front (NAS) and SSPDF is likely to occur during ongoing dialogues with hold-out groups. 

    Humanitarian Food Assistance


    • WFP’s lean season response plans to reach between 2.3 and 2.6 million people monthly between June and August with in-kind and cash-based food assistance under GFD and ACL programs. Given continued large funding constraints (only 18 percent of the South Sudan Humanitarian Response Plan is funded), WFP will continue to prioritize the delivery of food assistance to areas classified in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse and areas hosting high numbers of returnees. By September, WFP expects to scale down assistance dramatically to about 500,000 anticipated beneficiaries given anticipated green harvests and access to livestock products. From October through January, less than 300,000 beneficiaries are anticipated to be targeted monthly, and efforts will be primarily concentrated in the Protection of Civilians sites (Rubkona and Malakal) and displacement camps. Assistance delivery and access is expected to be disrupted by conflict, insecurity, and the projected catastrophic flooding during the main rainy season (from June to September, although likely extending into October/possibly November).  
    Table 1
    Key sources of evidence FEWS NET analysts incorporated into the development of the above assumptions 
    Key sources of evidence:
    Rainfall and flood forecasts produced by NOAA’s Climate Prediction Center, USGS, the Climate Hazards Center at the University of California Santa Barbara, and NASA, Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation’s AlertConflict analysis and forecasts produced by ACLED, USAID Partner Liason Security Operations (PLSO), WFP’s Access and Security Team, Reporting by International Crisis Group (ICG), Small Arms Survey, and others.   Displacement tracking data from UNHCR and IOM DTM/RRC 

    FEWS NET East Africa Cross Border Trade Report April 2024; East Africa Price Bulletin April 2024;South Sudan Price Bulletin May 2024; South Sudan Crop and Livestock Monitoring Systems Price Data (CLIMIS), FEWS NET cross border monitoring monthly data; Official and parrallel exchange rate data


    FAO/WFP 2023 Crop and Food Supply Asessment Mission (CFSAM) report; FEWS NET’s independent rapid food security monitoring reportsWFP’s Food Security and Nutrition Monitoring Systems (FSNMS) data; FEWS NET’s independent rapid food security monitoring reports; REACH’s monitoring reports; Nutrition SMART surveys conducted by South Sudan Nutrition partners.

    Projected acute food insecurity outcomes from June 2024 to January 2025

    Using the key assumptions that underpin the “most likely” scenario, FEWS NET is then able to project acute food insecurity outcomes by assessing the evolution of households’ ability to meet their minimum caloric needs throughout the projection period. Similar to the analysis of current acute food insecurity outcomes, FEWS NET converges expectations of the likely trajectory of household-level food consumption and livelihood change with area-level nutritional status and mortality. FEWS NET then classifies acute food insecurity outcomes using the IPC scale. Lastly, FEWS NET applies the “!” symbol to designate any areas where the mapped IPC Phase would likely be at least one IPC Phase worse without the effects of planned – and likely to be funded and delivered – food assistance. 

    Between June and September 2024, acute food insecurity is expected to deteriorate significantly in parts of northern counties bordering Sudan and Ethiopia (most of Upper Nile, Abyei, Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, northern Jonglei, and north- central Unity). Driving factors include the high returnee burden and the expected impact of severe flooding on displacement; poor trade flows and disrupted assistance deliveries; and anticipated destruction or loss of access to harvests and livestock products. In addition, sporadic conflict anticipated to worsen in many of hotspot areas in the lead up to the elections is likely to further disrupt households ability to engage in typical livelihood activities and undermine access to food and income. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to be widespread, with increasing numbers of households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) – particularly among returnee and IDP households given low coping capacity – as well as among some households in Aweil East. Fish and wild foods will continue to be a critical food source during this period. Given the historical trends of peak flooding continuing into October and November, it is expected that most of these areas will remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) into the October 2024 to January 2025 period with some displaced households expected to be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) without access to the typical seasonal improvements associated with the harvest and post-harvest period.  

    Between June and September 2024, parts of central and southern Jonglei and Pibor County of GPAA are expected to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) during the lean season as the combination of flooding and anticipated sporadic conflict and continued cattle raiding incidents will disrupt agricultural engagement, reduce or cut off household access to livestock products, disrupt humanitarian assistance, impede market and trade functionality, and cause additional displacements. Some households are likely to experience persisting extreme food consumption gaps, indicative of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), especially in areas projected to be severely impacted by floods and/or conflict (such as in Pibor). Significant food assistance will mitigate severity of acute food insecurity to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) in Uror and Nyirol of Jonglei. Between October 2024 and January 2025, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected; during this time, agropastoral households typically benefit from harvests (albeit marginal) and improved acccess to livestock. However, the long-term decline in the resilence of agropastoral livelihoods, combined with the expectation of prolonged flooding and elevated conflict before the December election, will drive food consumption gaps.

    In parts of southern Unity and Lakes, the atypically high residual floodwaters and forecasted above-normal rainfall are expected to drive severe flooding leading to destruction of crop and livestocks, household displacement, and disruption to market/trade and assistance delivery. Moroever, many households in this region have low capacity to cope, given the protracted years of flooding and high returnee burden. In Lakes, sporadic intercommunal violence and cattle raiding incidents, high staple food prices, and flood-induced negative impacts on household food availability and accessibilty will sustain moderate to large food consumption gaps. Between June and September, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to be widespread in southern Unity and Lakes. While parts of Lakes are expect to improve slightly to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) in the October 2024 to January 2025 period, most of southern Unity is expected to remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) through the projection period. 

    In Greater Equatoria, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will remain widespread between June and September despite the arrival of first season harvests; insecurity, localized delayed harvests, and the macroeconomic crisis driving high and rising prices are resulting in low household purchasing capacity and limiting access to food. An exception is the more productive and relatively calmer areas of Western Equatoria which are expected to be in Stressed (IPC Phase 2). Between October 2024 and January 2025, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likewise persist across much of the region despite the harvest, driven by conflict and the economic deterioration, with the exception again of some counties in Western Equatoria.

    In Greater Bahr El Ghazal, areas will remain in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) through the projection period, with increasing proportions of households facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) during the lean season, before declining with the arrival of the harvests in October. 

    While not the most likely scenario, FEWS NET assesses that there is a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in South Sudan, particularly in north-central Unity and other low-lying and flood prone counties in the Sudd wetland area, and river basins in parts of Upper Nile and Jonglei. These areas are expected to be severely affected by flooding, including negative impacts on cropland, population displacement, rising risk of disease outbreaks, and acute malnutrition. If extensive flooding combined with conflict dynamics were to isolate households from accessing typical food and income sources or assistance deliveries for a prolonged period of time, then Famine (IPC Phase 5) would occur during the June 2024 to January 2025 projection period. 

    Events that may change projected acute food insecurity outcomes

    While FEWS NET’s projections are considered the “most likely” scenario, there is always a degree of uncertainty in the assumptions that underpin the scenario. This means food security conditions and their impacts on acute food security may evolve differently than projected. FEWS NET issues monthly updates to its projections, but decision makers need advance information about this uncertainty and an explanation of why things may turn out differently than projected. As such, the final step in FEWS NET’s scenario development process is to briefly identify key events that would result in a credible alternative scenario and significantly change the projected outcomes. FEWS NET only considers scenarios that have a reasonable chance of occurrence.


    Event: The December 2024 elections are delayed earlier (in the next several months) and the transitional period is extended for at least an additional year. 

    Impact on food security outcomes: If the government announces in the next few months that the elections will be delayed to 2025 or later, it will likely reduce the kind of political maneuvering, elite competition, and ethnic and political tensions that otherwise were expected to generate a significant increase in violence. However, the delay will also put pressure on the government to begin activities necessary to hold the election in the future, including census taking and boundary delineation, and these activities are likely to drive localized escalations of violence where disputes between groups are most intense. As a result, the proportion of the population facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes will reduce slightly, but greater reductions will also be tempered by the considerable overlap between conflict and flooding hotspots.  

    Event: The election is cancelled at the last minute or there is significant disagreement over the final results, leading to a total breakdown of the September 2018 peace implementation and widespread conflict and violence

    Impact on food security outcomes: In the event that the upcoming December 2024 elections are cancelled at the last minute, or parties disagree over the final results, it is possible that political tensions and violence could escalate or expand, leading to more widespread conflict than currently anticipated in the most likely scenario. This would significantly displace additional populations and further disrupt livelihood activities, trade and market functioning, and humanitarian access, leading to expansion in the proportion of the South Sudan population facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes. 

    Event: Oil production and export is further disrupted, leading to even more volatility in macroeconomic conditions characterized by accelerated depreciation of the SSP and price increases for food and non-food commodities amid persistent low income-earning opportunities

    Impact on food security outcomes: A macroeconomic deterioration would result in even worse declines in purchasing power that would significantly limit many households’ ability to purchase adequate amounts of food. As such, the proportion of the population facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would increase significantly with expansion in the share of households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). 

    Event: Reduction in the level of conflict or a peaceful resolution to the Sudan conflict such that agricultural activity in Sudan can resume in a timely fashion during the upcoming agricultural season 

    Impact on food security outcomes: In the event that the warring parties in Sudan engage in a meaningful peace talk that results in a decline in conflict intensity or a peaceful resolution in time for farmers to engage in crop production, there would be some modest recovery of cross-border trade and economic activities in northern counties, stabilizing market supplies and prices of food and non-foods items. In addition, the rate returnee and refugee arrivals to areas of concern would decline. Overall, this would improve household access to income-earning opportunities and food, leading to a lower proportion of the population facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes.

    Event: Humanitarian funding is mobilized beyond what is planned and likely, and humanitarians prioritize areas in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), not just Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse

    Impact on food security outcomes: Increased humanitarian funding – from the currently low levels of 20 percent to-date –  would enable the scale up of assistance delivery to more vulnerable groups, including host and returnee communities, refugees and IDPs, and areas facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes. This would mitigate moderate to large food consumption gaps and drive lower food insecurity classifications to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) or lower. 

    Event: Less extensive flooding (similar to or lower than levels seen in 2023)

    Impact on food security outcomes: If the forecasted above-normal June to September main season rainfall does not materialize, less extensive flooding and displacement would occur. Impacts on crops and livestock, market access, and assistance delivery would also be reduced. The proportion of households facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) would be lower than anticipated under the most likely scenarios. 

    Sub-National (Greater Pibor Administrative Area and south-central Jonglei)

    Event: An increase in the frequency and scale of conflict between groups, including Murle, Dinka, and Lou Nuer communities, beyond what is already expected. 

    Impact on food security outcomes: An increase in the frequency and scale of conflict between rival groups would lead to significant disruptions in livelihoods activities, trade, markets, and the delivery of humanitarian assistance, leading to some households being cut-off from accessing food and income. Many households would face large to extreme food consumption gaps. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would likely be sustained in Duk, Nyirol, Uror, and Pibor, but with higher proportions of households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) than currently projected in Pibor.

    Sub-National (Northern and central areas – parts of Unity, Upper Nile, and Jonglei)

    Event: Conflict occurs in conjunction with severe flooding in areas with high returnee burden

    Impact on food security outcomes: If conflict occurs in conjunction with severe flooding at levels sufficient to isolate households from assistance and restrict household ability to migrate in search of food and income for a prolonged time, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would become more widespread, and Famine (IPC Phase 5) could occur. Of particular concern are overcrowded areas with high numbers of returnees who lack assets, are unfamiliar with the gathering and consumption of wild foods (a key coping strategy in these areas), and are already subject to high levels of food insecurity, disease, and acute malnutrition due to poor conditions in transit centers.

    Annex: Area of concern snapshot

    Rubkona of Unity in North-western Nile basin cattle and maize livelihood zone (LHZ SS09); Aweil East and Aweil South of Northern Bahr el Ghazal in Western flood plain sorghum and cattle zone (LHZ SS07); Renk of Upper Nile in Northern sorghum and livestock livelihood zone (SS11); and Luakpiny/Nasir in North-eastern maize, cattle, and fishing livelihood zone (SS10)

    Reasons for selecting this area: There are multiple areas of high concern in South Sudan, primarily located in Upper Nile and Bahr el Ghazal regions, and southeastern pastoral zones. FEWS NET has selected Aweil East and Aweil South counties of Northern Bahr el Ghazal state in LHZ SS07; Nasir/Luakpiny and Renk counties in Upper Nile in LHZ SS10 and SS11; and Rubkona County of Unity in LHZ SS09. These areas are selected as hosting large share of South Sudanese returnees from Sudan and IDPs, and illustrate the impacts of returnee burden, protracted flooding and conflict events, and asset erosion leading to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) with households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) that can be extrapolated to surrounding areas.

    Period of analysis:June to September 2024October 2024 to January 2025
    Highest area-level classificationEmergency (IPC Phase 4)Emergency (IPC Phase 4)
    Highest household-level classificationCatastrophe (IPC Phase 5)Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5)
    Figure 10: Reference map for Rubkona of Unity, Aweil East and Aweil South of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Renk and Luakpiny/Nasir of Upper Nile
    Area of concern map

    Source: FEWS NET

    The large presence and continued influx of thousands of South Sudanese returnees from Sudan and Ethiopia into the northern border counties, combined with previously conflict- and flood-displaced persons, continues to drive high humanitarian needs and household vulnerability to acute food insecurity in receiving counties such as Renk and Nasir of Upper Nile, Rubkona of Unity, and Aweil East and Aweil South of Northern Bahr El Ghazal. These returnees and refugees have few to any assets and limited coping capacity, adding pressure to already vulnerable host communities where resources are already strained due to consecutive years of flooding- and conflict-related impacts that have destroyed or constrained livelihoods. 

    In Rubkona, for example, an estimated 43,400 returnees and refugees have arrived as of late June – though this is likely an underestimate given the challenge of tracking returnees movements within the country – adding to the burden of over 200,000 previously flood-displaced IDPs in the area. Moreover, about one-third of the county remains inundated in advance of the upcoming lean season, estimated to be affecting at least 38,800 people. The persisting residual floodwater in cultivable areas and related displacements are limiting households’ ability to engage in livelihood activities, including producing food for own-consumption, and has rendered the majority of households entirely dependent on assistance humanitarians for food and basic health and nutrition services. 

    Households with access to farmland are currently engaged in land preparation, though planting has been delayed by the late onset of rains. Plot sizes are typically small in these counties (estimated between 0.30 and 0.70 hectares per household in 2023) and many households lack access to land or tools. Due to flooding, insecurity, and pest/disease rates in most of these livelihood zones, the level of own-crop production is typically low in most areas of concern except Renk. 

    Livestock have not yet returned to homesteads from the dry season grazing areas due to the delayed rejuvenation of the pastures resulting from high heat, delayed rains, and persistence of flood waters, limiting household access to livestock products. Moreover, livestock production has also been similarly undermined by years of flooding, conflict, and inadequate veterinary services. Ownership rates have declined considerably when compared to four years ago (2020), reducing household access to livestock products; however, there is significant variation across the counties

    Deficits from own-production are normally met through market purchases for those with purchasing capacity, wild foods, and food aid, particularly in the lead up to and through the lean season. Market supplies, however, are significantly disrupted by conflict and insecurity along trade routes and poor feeder road networks and conditions. The proliferation of checkpoints and high fuel prices are further exacerbating high food and non-food prices in the markets, driven upward by low and declining supply, high demand, and continued depreciation of the SSP against the USD. Based on the analysis of field monitoring and CLiMIS price data for white sorghum, the May retail price of a malwa in Renk, Aweil East, Aweil South, Rubkona, and Nasir is 16 to 100 percent and 40 to 233 percent higher than observed in April 2024 and the same month in 2023, respectively. High staple food prices, combined with low and declining income-earning opportunities, are limiting household access to adequate food from the markets.

    Availability and access to wild food varies across livelihood zones, but is generally limited by seasonality, residual floodwater, competition, and insecurity-related restrictions. FEWS NET field monitoring information and key informant reports indicate many host households in Rubkona, Renk, and Nasir have access to fishing in the Sobat and Nile rivers, but fishing is limited in the far lowlands in Aweil East, Aweil South, and on Kiir River (near the Sudan border), as is typical in the dry season. Both returnees and host households are engaged in wild gathering/hunting for food and to sell for income.  

    Humanitarian food assistance remains a key source of food for many poor households, including South Sudanese returnees, in all areas of concern. While WFP sustained has overall steady assistance in Rubkona and Renk, it is unlikely to meet fully mitigate Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes given high burden of returnees arriving in the areas. Moreover, the recent attacks in mid-June In Rubkona forced a temporary pause in assistance that is likely to have worsened food consumption gaps for the many host and returned households who are highly dependent on food aid. In Aweil East and Nasir, WFP’s reach with food assistance was very low through May, but WFP has reportedly started prioritizing Nasir following the resumption of UNHAS operations on June 18. 

    Due to the significant impacts of years of recurrent hazards; erosion of assets and household coping capacity; atypically early depletion of household stocks; low availability of wild foods, fish, and livestock products; and high and rising food prices amid poor purchasing power, most households are expected to be facing moderate to large food consumption gaps in June with all areas in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). In Rubkona, the scale of need and high returnee burden is expected to drive continued Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes despite relatively consistent and high levels of humanitarian food assistance. Some households are facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), including some returnee, IDP, and poor host households in Aweil East; households in areas of transit and high IDP concentration; and/or households that lack assets, social network support, and knowledge of traditional coping mechanisms.

    Between June and September 2024, food consumption gaps are expected to deteriorate further, rendering poor households heavily dependent on food assistance and seasonally-available wild foods/fish as the rainy season progresses. However, access to both of these critical food sources will be threatened by insecurity and the elevated risk of flooding. Much of the population in these areas is likely to face large food consumption gaps indicative of widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, with some vulnerable host, displaced, and returnee households expected to be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), particularly in Rubkona, Renk, and Aweil East. From October 2024 through January 2025, typical improvement in access to own-production is unlikely to materialize given the anticipated severity of the flooding likely to cause significant livestock deaths, damage to crops, and widespread displacement. All counties are expected to remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), with some households likely to still face Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), particularly among flood-displaced and returnees. 

    Annex: Most likely food security outcomes and areas receiving significant levels of humanitarian assistance

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. South Sudan Food Security Outlook June 2024 - January 2025: Forecasted severe flooding elevates the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in flood-prone areas, 2024.

    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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