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Emergency (IPC Phase 4) likely to continue in areas severely affected by conflict and floods

  • Food Security Outlook
  • South Sudan
  • October 2021 - May 2022
Emergency (IPC Phase 4) likely to continue in areas severely affected by conflict and floods

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  • Key Messages
  • Recurrent conflict and flood shocks sustain a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in South Sudan
  • Events That Could Change the Outlook
  • Key Messages
    • The 2021 harvest, economic reforms that have led to a decline in staple food prices, and sustained humanitarian food assistance have driven a relative improvement in food availability and access in some areas of South Sudan. Food insecurity has likely improved from Crisis (IPC Phase 3) to Stressed (IPC Phase 2) in parts of the Equatorias and parts of Lakes and Jonglei where relative calm and conducive rainfall enabled this year’s harvests to perform favorably. In several counties, significant food assistance is likely helping to compensate for shortfalls in crop production, leading to Stressed! (IPC Phase 2!) outcomes.

    • Across the rest of South Sudan, however, FEWS NET estimates 55-65 percent of the national population faces Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Since June, multiple conflict and flood shocks have displaced hundreds of thousands of households and caused widespread crop and livestock losses, disruptions to markets and trade, and periodic constraints to food assistance delivery. Available ground information and historical crop production data suggest the 2021 harvest is either slightly better than or comparable to last year and the five-year average, with large cereal deficits occurring in conflict- and flood-affected areas. While food assistance is mitigating the severity of food insecurity for many people, the scale of need still outpaces food assistance levels. As a result, seasonal improvement in food security is marginal for most of the country, leaving most households exposed to food consumption gaps and atypically high acute malnutrition.

    • Further deterioration in food insecurity is expected across South Sudan as harvest stocks become depleted between October and May. New information from WFP indicates food assistance funding will likely support plans to reach up to 11 percent of the national population between October and December; however, given that these plans are only newly available, further analysis is required to determine the likely impact on food security outcomes. Regardless, the gap between the population in need and planned distributions remains very wide. Moreover, assistance plans are not available from January onward. Food assistance must be scaled up and sustained to save lives and rebuild livelihoods.

    • The areas of highest concern in South Sudan include Pibor, the greater Tonj area in Warrap, southern Unity, northern Jonglei, Tambura in Western Equatoria, and parts of Upper Nile, where FEWS NET assesses large populations are likely to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Based on past trends and the severity and scale of ongoing shocks, some of the worst-affected households in remote, inaccessible, or insecure areas are likely to experience Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5)[1].

    • While it is not the most likely scenario, there is a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in areas with large populations in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Past events in South Sudan demonstrate the potential for new shocks to isolate households from food sources and lead to extreme food insecurity. An end to conflict, accompanied by humanitarian interventions to rebuild livelihoods, resilience, and coping capacity, is required to reduce the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5).

    • [1] The IPC classifies acute food insecurity at the household level and area level. At the household level, Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) occurs when a household group has an extreme lack of food and/or other basic needs even after full employment of coping strategies. At the area level, Famine (IPC Phase 5) occurs when at least 20 percent of the households in a given area have an extreme lack of food; the Global Acute Malnutrition prevalence, as measured by weight-for-height z-score, exceeds 30 percent; and mortality, as measured by the Crude Death Rate (CDR), is greater than 2 per 10,000 per day.

    Recurrent conflict and flood shocks sustain a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in South Sudan

    Recurrent sub-national conflict and a third consecutive year of devastating floods, amid protracted economic challenges, have continued to drive very high food assistance needs in South Sudan throughout 2021, peaking in the range of 7-8 million people. An uptick in political conflict and recurrent inter-communal conflict led to large-scale displacement in both established conflict hotspots, such as the greater Tonj area in Warrap, and areas that had previously benefitted from relative calm, such as Tambura county, Western Equatoria. The flooding of the Nile River and its tributaries have also affected an estimated 760,000 people, many of whom have experienced multiple years of flooding or concurrent conflict and flood shocks. In addition to preventing normal harvest activities and trade, these events have frequently disrupted or suspended humanitarian access, and have ultimately reduced household access to food.

    While national survey data on food insecurity in 2021 is not yet available, past rounds of survey data and current ground information suggest that most of the population is likely experiencing insufficient dietary quantity indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, as well as poor dietary quality (Figure 1). At the start of the main harvest in October, hundreds of thousands of people face obstacles to harvesting crops, trading livestock, and engaging in other livelihood activities due to violence or floodwaters that have caused displacement and restricted normal population movement. In addition, millions of people face systemic challenges to rebuilding their livelihoods and regaining their capacity to cope with idiosyncratic shocks, including but not limited to inadequate market infrastructure, barriers to expanding beyond subsistence agriculture, and the low availability of health services. As recent livelihood losses and systemic drivers will most likely impede improvement in food security during the harvest, severe outcomes are expected through May 2022.    

    In areas with large populations in Emergency (IPC Phase 4), there is a credible, alternative scenario in which Famine (IPC Phase 5) could occur. While it is not the most likely scenario, it is possible that food security conditions could rapidly deteriorate, given the potential for new shocks to isolate households from food sources, as occurred in central Unity in 2017, Greater Baggari in 2018, and Pibor in 2020. In such a scenario, past events demonstrate households would face a substantial and prolonged disruption to their main food sources, leaving them to rely primarily on wild foods. The areas of highest concern include Pibor, the greater Tonj area in Warrap, southern Unity, northern Jonglei, Tambura in Western Equatoria, and parts of Upper Nile. In these areas, the scale of ongoing shocks and available evidence strongly suggest a very high share of the population are currently or will likely face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes from October 2021 to May 2022. In some cases, past trends and current shocks suggest households are likely to have extreme food consumption gaps indicative of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), though their precise location is difficult to confirm without further data.

    After the declaration of Famine Likely (IPC Phase 5) in Pibor and the assessment that tens of thousands of people were in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in five other counties in late 2020, the scale-up of food, health, and nutrition assistance to these areas played a critical role in alleviating extreme outcomes. In Pibor, specifically, evidence suggests humanitarian efforts combined with relative peace and relatively lower flood extent have driven improvement to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and prevented Famine (IPC Phase 5) from continuing. Many households are benefitting from a slight recovery in crop production and market functioning, as well as freedom of movement to engage in fishing, hunting, and gathering. These improvements notwithstanding, concern remains that the worst-off households in inaccessible and insecure areas of Pibor are likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Ultimately, an end to conflict and sustained food, health, nutrition, and livelihoods assistance to rebuild livelihoods, resilience, and coping capacity are required to reduce the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in South Sudan.


    Current Situation

    Conflict and displacement: Amid slow implementation of the 2018 peace deal in South Sudan, conflict and insecurity continue to threaten lives, impede crop and livestock production, and significantly disrupt trade, market functioning, and humanitarian operations. Conflict and insecurity are also among the main drivers of high internal displacement, which amounted to 1.71 million people in August, according to OCHA. The third quarter of 2021 was more violent and deadly than the same period of 2020, reflected by a five percent increase in conflict incidents and a 20 percent increase in confirmed fatalities, according to the Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project (ACLED).[2] Typically, the July-September period ushers in a general decrease in conflict events as it coincides with the wettest months of the main rainfall season. However, this year saw an increase in conflict in Upper Nile, Western Equatoria, Central Equatoria, and Eastern Equatoria alongside sporadic incidents in Jonglei, Warrap, and Lakes (Figure 2). In Upper Nile, the increase in conflict is namely driven by battles between rival factions of the SPLM/A-IO in Upper Nile. Elsewhere, clashes are primarily between irregular armed groups and labeled inter-communal, though these incidents may also at times be politicized and backed by national-level elites. Greater Equatoria also witnessed high levels of armed ambushes along the Juba-Nimule road – attributed to the South Sudan Opposition Alliance – and clashes between military forces and irregular groups in Tambura county.

    Tonj East and Tonj North of Warrap remain among the conflict-affected areas of highest concern for severe food insecurity, despite a relative decline in conflict incidents during the rainy season. According to ACLED’s conflict analysis, ongoing violence between ethnic groups – namely the Rek and Luachjang Dinka – is entangled with the political interests of national-level military elites, making the situation complex. Recurrent attacks in 2020 and 2021 have significantly eroded the livelihoods and coping capacity of most civilians, especially in Tonj East. For instance, a REACH assessment conducted in September 2021 reported insecurity prevented many households from cultivating, altered livestock migration patterns, restricted household movement in search of other food and income sources, and constrained trade flows. Despite increased food assistance in 2021 compared to 2020, violence also reportedly prevented households in remote areas from traveling to distribution points or accessing their crop fields. Conflict has persisted through mid-October, disrupting access to main season harvest activities, driving Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes in these counties. Furthermore, the presence of armed, local youth patrols in some areas (Ananatak and greater Marial Lou payams) suggests they may block commercial and humanitarian movements in and out of the key trading center of Romic in the near term.

    Meanwhile, conflict in Tambura county of Western Equatoria has driven sharp deterioration in food security from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) in an area that is typically considered part of South Sudan’s “bread basket.” Violence between rival armed forces has displaced around 80,000 people (70 percent of the county population). Available interagency assessments indicate over 20 percent of the displaced fled to relatively safer locations within Tambura, while the rest fled to neighboring Ezo, Yambio, Nagero, Wau, and Nzara counties. According to a September 2021 REACH assessment, households that were unable to leave southern Tambura face the threat of attacks and forced recruitment. Meanwhile, displaced households had to abandon both their food stocks and standing crops. Moreover, persistent fighting compelled humanitarian responders to evacuate Tambura in mid-October, suspending biometric registration and food assistance delivery to the displaced. Despite directives from the South Sudan Joint Defense Board for SPLM/A-IO forces to stand down, there remains high concern that conflict will continue and spread to Ezo, Nagero, and potentially Wau.

    Another area of increasing concern is the Upper Nile-Jonglei border region, where acute food insecurity has been severe since the late 2019 floods and is now exacerbated by concurrent conflict and flood shocks.  In this region, the latest uptick in conflict is primarily linked to divisions between rival SPLM/A-IO factions but also has inter-communal characteristics. Although the intensity of SPLM/A-IO conflict incidents is highest in the lowly populated Magenis area of northern Manyo, sporadic events have also occurred in parts of Longochuk, Uror, and the Sobat River corridor along the Upper Nile-Jonglei border. Clashes between inter-communal groups linked to pro-Gatwech and pro-Machar forces have also affected Canal/Pigi and Luakpiny/Nasir. Many households in these areas already lost their main season crops and some livestock due to the ongoing 2021 floods, and insecurity is simultaneously interfering with their ability to harvest surviving crops, trade livestock, or access markets. Moreover, insecurity in Pieri payam of Uror led to the suspension of food distribution while humanitarians temporarily evacuated. In addition to the above areas, tensions are reportedly high in Akobo and Nyirol and it is possible that insecurity will increase in the near term and disrupt food assistance delivery in these areas.

    Meanwhile, in Mayendit of Unity, tensions between the SPLM/A-IO and SPLM-IG forces over local-level administration appointments have led to armed clashes between SPLM-IG forces and youths loyal to the SPLM/A-IO in late September. If tensions are not contained, further violence in Mayendit could escalate, worsening the already extreme food insecurity compounded by severe floods. Finally, in Pibor, the relocation of WFP – who are affected by an ultimatum issued by Murle youths on October 4 giving NGOs 72 hours to leave – has temporarily suspended delivery of food assistance. The timing of this event overlaps with the harvest, a period in which previously-provided food assistance distribution plans indicated a three-month scale-down in food assistance in Pibor; as such, these concerning developments have yet to change the near-term scenario in Pibor, since negotiations to resume assistance are underway.

    Rainfall performance and flooding: For the third consecutive year, the end of the main June to September rainfall season has extended into October and has been marked by widespread, severe flooding in river basins and low-lying areas. Heavy rainfall in late September and October led to an increase in flood extent in the northern Sudd Wetlands and areas of the Lol and Sobat-Akobo River catchments, especially in Unity, Jonglei, and Upper Nile states (Figure 3). Additionally, heavy rainfall led to flooding in parts of Western and Central Equatoria, Lakes, Warrap, and Western Bahr El Ghazal. Despite a decline in rainfall intensity to average levels in October in some areas, like Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Warrap, the rain has fallen on already-high river water levels and is likely to maintain high flood extent into the next month. 

    According to OCHA’s most recent update for October 2021, floods have affected an estimated 760,000 people in 8 of South Sudan’s 10 states. Based on the flood extent and the size of the flood-affected population, the worst-affected areas include southern and northwestern Unity, northwestern Jonglei, and parts of Northern and Western Bahr el Ghazal. To date, the national flood-affected population is only five percent lower than 2020 (800,000) and roughly 16 percent lower than 2019 (908,000). Additionally, the northward shift in flood-affected areas between 2020 and 2021 is noteworthy, leading to more severe flood impacts in Unity, northern Jonglei, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and northern Warrap in 2021 than 2020.

    In line with FEWS NET’s earlier projections, the floods have significantly worsened food security conditions at the start of the harvest period. Very wet conditions are likely to persist at least until the full onset of the dry season in December. Key informants and 15 inter-agency rapid assessments (IRNA) report significant displacement of people and livestock to higher grounds, significant to near-total crop losses, and submerged or cut-off markets and trade routes. In some cases, such as in the Upper Nile-Jonglei border region and greater Tonj of Warrap, there is high concern that concurrent conflict incidents may further restrict population movements and strand households, which makes activities such as fishing, hunting, and gathering more difficult and dangerous. The inundation of health facilities and contamination of water sources also means many communities are unable to access basic services, which past trends show is likely driving an increase in disease incidence, morbidity, and acute malnutrition levels. While the government of South Sudan has announced the allocation of 10 million USD for its national flood response, the scale of need is expected to outpace these resources. Currently, humanitarian food assistance delivery is ongoing with significant funding and logistic constraints.

    Main season crop production: Available field information suggests national crop production prospects for the 2021 main season are similar to better than 2020 and the five-year average, but well below pre-conflict levels. Additionally, there are significant variations in harvest prospects between states due to varying livelihood contexts and conflict and flood shocks, resulting in a large national cereal deficit. As such, state-level harvests in 2021 will vary, with the largest deficits expected in flood-affected areas of Jonglei, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, and Warrap. As rainfall subsides, the risk of further crop losses depends on the slow pace of receding floodwaters and the lack of dry ground on which to dry harvested crops. Despite these losses, the harvest of groundnut and short-maturing sorghum in parts of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Lakes, and Western Bahr el Ghazal and the green harvest of maize in Pibor and Akobo East of Jonglei are contributing to household food availability. Meanwhile, long-cycle sorghum that survived floods in high-ground areas of Unity, Tonj South of Warrap, Fashoda of Upper Nile, and Greater Rumbek and Greater Yirol in Lakes is expected to be harvested in late October.

    In bimodal Greater Equatoria, drying and harvesting of short-cycle crops are underway in October, increasing the availability of sorghum, maize, and groundnuts, and second-season, long-maturing sorghum is in the late vegetative stage and will be harvested in late December or January. Similarly, the ratoon crops in greater Kapoeta are also at vegetative/flowering stage and second season crops are at vegetative to flowering stages in Magwi, southern Torit, mountainous areas of Ikwoto and Budi County of Eastern Equatoria state; Yei, Morobo, Lainya county of Central Equatoria State; Pochalla county of Jonglei; and all counties of Western Equatoria, with the exception of Mvolo, and Tambura are expected to be harvested in late December to early January.

    Macroeconomic conditions: Following an estimated economic contraction of 5.4 percent in FY2020/2021, macroeconomic conditions have improved modestly with the most recent efforts by the government of South Sudan to spur the economy by securing loans from international financial institutions. The most recent cash injection includes a loan totaling 334 million USD from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in late August in efforts to boost the country's foreign exchange reserves, offset the economic shocks caused by the COVID-19, and support ongoing macroeconomic and financial management reforms. Multiple disbursements from IMF mechanisms since late 2020, underpinned by strengthening global oil prices that boosted oil revenue, have increased the availability of hard currency, facilitated the modest stabilization of the exchange rate, driven a decline in inflation, and increased the government's ability to reduce salary arrears substantially. As observed by the World Bank, the annual inflation rate fell from a peak of nearly 70 percent in January to 18 percent by June 2021. A significant driver of inflation was the unification of the official and parallel exchange rates, which exhibited a difference of nearly 250 percent in early 2021 that has now been effectively eliminated.

    These macroeconomic reforms have had a direct impact on food security by increasing the capacity of traders to finance imports, facilitating a decline in staple food prices in most markets. However, many economic challenges persist due to the protracted of years of conflict, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the slow recovery in crude oil production and oil- and non-revenue collection and management. Income-earning opportunities remain limited, and, according to the World Bank, the poverty rate rose to an estimated 79 percent in FY 2020/2021.

    Markets and trade functioning: Markets within the state capitals remain functional, but functionality and trade flows – measured in terms of the number of traders and levels of supply or demand relative to normal – varies widely across the counties, with the level of disruptions linked to conflict or floods. Market functionality and trade flows are significantly disrupted in Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile and along the Yei-Maridi road in Central and Yambio-Tambura to Nagero of Western Equatoria to Wau of Western Equatoria (Figure 5) due to renewed conflict, insecurity, or floods. In Greater Upper Nile, market and trade functioning has been significantly constrained by floods, and led to limited or no cereals in Ayod, Fangak of Jonglei;  Panyagor of Twic East, and Motot of Uror as a result. Furthermore, field assessments further indicate that households have low or limited physical access to markets due to the impassibility of roads.

    Meanwhile, cross-border trade from Uganda and Sudan to South Sudan continues to flow though with periodic disruptions linked to road ambushes/insecurity or floods. From late August to mid-September, cross-border trade flows from Uganda to South Sudan were temporarily halted for two weeks due to long-distance truck drivers’ strikes in response to escalation of road ambushes in mid-August. As a result of this protest, as well as lower-than-average supplies in Uganda given their below-average first season harvest, cross-border trade flows through Nimule border crossing declined. Commercial truck drivers resumed transport in the first week of September with military escorts following talks between South Sudanese and Ugandan authorities, and this drove improvement in cross-border trade flows via Nimule by late September. Based on FEWS NET’s analysis of monthly cross-border trade data from September 2021, the import volume of sorghum grain from Uganda to South Sudan was 35 percent higher than recorded in August 2021 but, based on FEWS NET’s quarterly cross-border trade monitoring data, the importation of sorghum during the July to September third quarter was overall 18 percent lower than the previous quarter. Still, imports were 574 percent above last year and 507 percent above the five-year average, likely linked to the increased availability of hard currency.

    Staple food prices and terms of trade: Based on monthly price monitoring data available in CLiMIS for September, the retail price of a malwa (3.5 kg) of white sorghum was 14 to 25 percent lower than observed in August 2021 in Wau and Aweil Centre and remained stable in Juba and Rumbek Centre due to availability of harvests, food aid, and increased imports from Sudan and Uganda (Figure 6). Compared to September of last year, the sorghum price was still 70 percent higher in Juba, while ranging from 28 to 62 percent lower in Aweil Centre, Wau, and Rumbek Centre. However, while the price was similar to the five-year average in Rumbek Centre, prices remained generally 26 to 193 percent above the five-year average in Wau, Aweil, and Juba due to high import inflation, local exchange rate variations, and seasonal feeder road deterioration. In Aweil, the price was 57 percent below the five-year average, likely due to better access to hard currency for food imports and high supplies from both Sudan and Uganda.

    The terms of trade, measured by the amount of sorghum that could be purchased with a day's wage rate, continued to improve in Aweil from 34 to 47 kgs per day’s wage, remain stable (15 kgs per day’s wage) in Wau, and reduced further in Juba from 5 to 4 kgs per day’s wage between August and September.

    Humanitarian food assistance: Humanitarian food assistance continues to be a primary source of food in many poor households and plays a significant role in mitigating the severity of acute food insecurity in many counties, including flood- and conflict-affected areas. It is FEWS NET’s assessment that the total population that currently needs food assistance is within the range of 7-8 million. Despite acute logistic, flood, and security challenges, WFP reached 2.57 million people with food assistance in August, which is 58 percent more people than reached in July. In September, WFP’s distribution report confirms 1.88 million people received food assistance. In addition, WFP reported plans to reach over 800,000 people with its Safety Net and Resilience portfolio and 732,000 beneficiaries with nutrition commodities. Based on the monthly average between July and September, humanitarian food assistance to priority counties – including those previously assessed to have households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) and those severely affected by floods in 2020 – has been distributed to under 10 percent of the population in Duk and Twic East; between 10 and 20 percent of the population in Akobo and Ayod; and over 20 percent of the population in Pibor, Aweil South, Bor South, Tonj South, Tonj East, and Tonj North.” WFP continues to encounter several challenges, including road access constraints due to floods, conflicts and insecurity, funding shortages, and the high costs associated with river and air operations, which have delayed, suspended, or disrupted deliveries in various counties.

    Current outcomes

    Nationally, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes are widespread at the start of the harvesting period in October given the continuation of multiple compounding shocks, including conflict, insecurity, and floods. As such, households face moderate to large food consumption gaps, indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are likely present in 21 counties, primarily concentrated in Jonglei, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, and Upper Nile. In these areas, more severe outcomes are mainly linked to the devastation of crops and livestock and disruption to trade flows and market functioning by severe floods from July to October, the increase in conflict along the Upper Nile-Jonglei border region since July, and the resumption of inter-communal conflicts and violence in early October. In Tambura, the high level of population displacement, abandonment of the first season harvest, and disruption to main season planting drove sharp deterioration in outcomes from Stressed (IPC Phase 2) to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) in October. 

    Of greatest concern are counties that were worst-affected by floods since July, where the population faces substantial disruption in their access to food. These counties include Leer, Mayendit, Panyijiar, Mayom counties of Unity; Fangak, Canal/Pigi, and Ayod counties of Jonglei; Aweil South, Aweil East, Aweil North, and Aweil West of Northern Bahr el Ghazal; and Gogrial West, Gogrial East, Tonj North, and Tonj East of Warrap. Key informant and other IRNA/field assessments report extensive crop and livestock losses, very limited to no trade flows and market functioning, and restricted humanitarian access due to the floods. Some of these areas simultaneously face concurrent threats from conflict. Given flood-and conflict-related disruptions to typical food and income sources and massive displacement, many households face large food consumption gaps with very low coping capacity. Based on the severity of ongoing shocks as well as past trends, it is further likely that some households in Fangak, Ayod, and Canal/Pigi of Jonglei and Mayendit, Leer, and Panyijiar of Unity who lost their entire crops or livestock and have little to no access to food assistance or markets are in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).

    Pibor remains the area of highest concern in South Sudan. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is most likely present at the start of the harvest in Pibor, due to the scale-up in food, nutrition, and health assistance and lower levels of conflict from March to September. These conditions enabled households to increase the area planted, resulting in a relatively better crop harvest in September 2021, and permitted humanitarians to reach more of the worst-affected households in Pibor. Cumulatively, these developments drove some improvement from Famine Likely (IPC Phase 5) in late 2020 to Emergency (IPC Phase 4) by October. Nevertheless, humanitarian access to inaccessible and/or insecure areas remains extremely challenging to date. The youth from Greater Pibor Administrative Area (GPAA) issued an ultimatum on October 4th to humanitarian organizations operating in Greater Pibor to evacuate all the relocatable staff from the area within 72 hours, mainly linked to demands to hire local staff. Later, a group of youth attacked humanitarian staff preparing a food distribution in Gumuruk of Pibor. This has led to the suspension of the delivery of humanitarian assistance, and the resumption will be contingent on negotiations for local employment quotas. Currently, key health and nutrition services remain operational. More information is available on pages 11-12 of this report.

    Finally, in parts of the Equatorias and parts of Lakes and Jonglei where relative calm and conducive rainfall enabled this year’s harvests to perform slightly better than last year and facilitate a higher level of household movement and market access, Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes are likely. 


    The most likely scenario from October 2021 to May 2022 is based on the following national-level assumptions: 

    • Conflict events and insecurity are likely to slow the implementation of key elements of the peace deal, such as the graduation of a unified national security force. In Upper Nile, political violence between General Simon Gatwech Dual’s and Vice President Riek Machar’s SPLM/A-IO factions will continue and may spread to other counties outside of Manyo due to a high likelihood for further defections within SPLA M/-IO forces. In the Equatorias, armed ambushes along the Juba-Nimule road, and attacks by non-state armed groups engaging violently with the SPLM over inter-communal grievances in Tambura county, will likely resume as floods recede and increase during the dry season from January onward, reaching higher levels than those reported during the first five months of 2021. Intercommunal violence in Warrap, Lakes, and Jonglei states is likely to resume as the floods recede and increase during the dry season from January onward, reaching similar levels as those reported during the same period in 2021.
    • Based on recent and anticipated floods and conflict, the internally displaced population is expected to rise compared to the last official IOM DTM estimate of 1.7 million. Past trends show that while many flood-displaced people will return home after floodwaters recede, a significant number will likely remain in IDP camps or host communities. Large-scale displacement due to conflict is also likely to continue, exemplified by the displacement of more than 80,000 people in Tambura of Western Equatoria since June. Meanwhile, spontaneous refugee returns are likely to be similar to lower than 2020 due to these shocks and persistently poor macroeconomic conditions.
    • Rainfall began to subside in South Sudan in the second half of October and is forecast to further subside in November, which is expected to gradually permit floodwaters to recede between November and December. However, based on the level of flooding and soil saturation, wetland extent is likely to remain higher than normal into the 2021/2022 dry season, including in Sudd Wetland and areas of Jonglei and Unity and parts of Northern Bahr el Ghazal and Upper Nile.
    • Based on NOAA and USGS analysis of historical analog years with similar climatic conditions, the March to May 2022 first rainfall season in southern and western bimodal areas of South Sudan is most likely to be average.
    • The 2021 main season harvest, which starts in September/October and continues through December, is expected to be similar to slightly better than 2020 and the five-year average, but well below pre-conflict levels. This projection is based on historical Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission data, a reported increase in planted area in some unimodal areas of Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr el Ghazal, seasonal rainfall performance, but significant pre- or post-harvest crop losses in areas affected by heavy rain and floods (Jonglei, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Upper Nile), dry spells (Eastern Equatoria), or conflict (Jonglei, Upper Nile, Warrap, Lakes, and Greater Equatoria). Although the harvest will increase food availability and access across the country through at least February, significant variations are likely between and within counties due to the local impacts of conflict or floods on crop production.
    • Based on recent and anticipated conflict and flood shocks, livestock holdings and productivity are expected to remain significantly below normal and may further decline in Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile, as well as parts of Warrap and Lakes. Milk availability will vary between counties and households depending on livestock holdings, pasture availability, and disease incidence; however, production will remain high through November/December and decline through March/April in accordance with seasonal water and pasture availability and wet/dry season grazing patterns.
    • The seasonal availability of fish, game, and wild fruits and vegetables typically peaks between October and February as floodwaters recede and then declines through March/April. However, some communities in more severe conflict- and flood-affected areas in Jonglei, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, Warrap, and Lakes will likely face periodic access restrictions to gathering, fishing, and hunting.
    • Economic growth projections by the African Development Bank (AfDB) and The World Bank indicate South Sudan’s economy will likely grow by 2.5 to 2.6 percent in FY2021/2022. Economic activity will remain constrained by oil production challenges, subnational conflict and insecurity, and the COVID-19 pandemic. However, a partial economic recovery will be supported by higher global oil prices; the easing of cross-border movement restrictions; relative calm in security conditions in some counties; and public financial management reforms and international financing related to IMF disbursements under the Rapid Credit Facility (225 million USD in Nov. 2020 and Mar. 2021) and an IMF Special Drawings Rights allocation (334 million USD in Aug. 2021). The AfDB projects these drivers will most likely push inflation down to 23.3 percent in 2021 compared to 31.1 percent in 2020, which will better facilitate food and non-food imports.
    • Food commodity imports are expected to rise, facilitated by the unification of the exchange rate, lower inflation, and the reopening of several border crossing posts with Sudan. However, periodic disruptions to trade flows due to attacks along the routes from Uganda to Juba remain likely despite enhanced security escorts. Meanwhile, domestic trade flows between market hubs (e.g., Juba and Wau) and rural markets will likely remain below normal, as will overall market functioning. On the one hand, trade will gradually increase as floodwaters slowly recede after October. On the other hand, trade will subsequently be affected by an anticipated uptick in conflict, insecurity, and banditry during the dry season from January to April/May. As a result, local market supply shortages are likely to periodically occur in conflict- and flood-affected areas of Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr el Ghazal. Low household purchasing power and demand in these areas can also reinforce supply shortages, as traders are discouraged from investing in supplying them.
    • Based on FEWS NET’s integrated price projections, the retail price per malwa (3.5 kg) of white sorghum is expected to generally decline through the October to December harvest period and remain stable or rise during the January to May post-harvest period in the major markets of Juba, Bor South, Wau, and Aweil. The unit price is expected to range from 12 percent above to 44 percent below the preceding year, driven by seasonal crop production prospects, seasonal variation in domestic trade flows, rising food imports, and lower inflation. However, the unit price is still expected to range from 22 to 177 percent above the five-year averages given persistent macroeconomic constraints, the national cereal deficit, and high import and transportation costs. The unit price is projected to be highest in Juba, ranging between 1,380 and 1,465 SSP, and lowest in Aweil, ranging between 385 and 580 SSP.
    • Wages and terms of trade: Based on the daily labor wage rate and retail price of sorghum observed since July in the urban centers of Aweil, Wau, and Juba, household purchasing power measured by the amount of sorghum that can be purchased with a day’s wage is expected to modestly strengthen between October and May in Aweil and Wau, facilitated by the harvest and partial economic recovery. However, household purchasing power in Juba is expected to remain suppressed due to higher staple food prices and high competition for limited casual labor opportunities.  
    • Humanitarian food assistance: The latest available information from WFP indicates food assistance between October and December plans aim to reach up to 11 percent of the national population, which is revised upward from previous plans to reach six percent of the national population. County-level plans to incorporate the impact of assistance are newly available, though further analysis is required to determine the likely targeting and reach of assistance relative to the need. As such, this outlook incorporates previously available assistance distribution plans and will be updated upon completion of the analysis of newly available distribution plans. Food assistance plans are not yet available for 2022.

    Most Likely Food Security Outcomes

    Nationally, the significant loss of crops, livestock, and other livelihood assets and widespread population displacement due to recurrent conflict and floods will continue to drive high levels of acute food insecurity during the harvesting and post-harvesting period from October 2021 to January 2022. As most of the country will continue to experience moderate to large food consumption gaps, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes will likely remain widespread, and 24 counties are expected to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Humanitarian food assistance is likely to mitigate food insecurity outcomes in some parts of Jonglei, Unity, Upper Nile, and Eastern Equatoria to Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) or Stressed (IPC Phase 2!). In less flood-affected or relatively stable states, food security is expected to improve only marginally, primarily among households who own livestock or have access to functioning markets and have harvested crops. During this period, the increased availability of livestock products (such as milk) and natural food sources (such as fish and wild foods) will be at their annual peaks. However, despite recent gains in exchange rate stabilization and some declines in staple food prices in key reference markets such as Aweil, Wau, and Bor South, many households are still likely to be unable to purchase adequate food from the markets. Prices remain high overall, and there have been limited gains in income-earning opportunities and purchasing power.

    Food insecurity is expected to worsen during the February to May 2022 post-harvest period. Sharp deterioration is likely to occur in severely flood-affected counties, where the harvests will deplete atypically early in January or February, leaving many households with large food consumption gaps. It is also anticipated that residual floodwaters and conflict or insecurity may also periodically disrupt or limit household access to markets, trade of livestock and livestock products, and engagement in fishing, hunting, and gathering. Under these circumstances, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will most likely expand to 33 counties during this period, which also overlaps with the start of the lean season.

    Throughout the projection period, the areas of highest concern will remain Pibor, northern Jonglei, southern Unity, parts of Upper Nile, Warrap, and Tambura in Western Equatoria due to the likelihood that very high shares of the population are likely to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). These areas have experienced the greatest livelihood losses and have the highest level of disruptions to trade and market functioning, and they are likely to continue to face restrictions on population movement and humanitarian access in the medium term due to wide flood extent and/or conflict. Within these areas, some households are likely to experience Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), though their precise location is difficult to confirm in the absence of household survey data. Based on the severity of recent shocks, however, FEWS NET assesses Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) is most likely to occur in the counties of Pibor; Mayendit, Leer, and Panyijiar of Unity; Fangak, Ayod, and Canal/Pigi of Jonglei; and Tonj East and Tonj North of Warrap. For a detailed outlook on Pibor, please refer to pages 10-11.

    Throughout the projection period, there remains a risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5). While Famine is not the most likely scenario, Famine could occur in a credible alternative scenario in which a shock isolates households from their typical food sources for a prolonged period. This is a credible risk given the high share of the population facing large food consumption gaps and the potential for new shocks to isolate households from food sources.

    Events That Could Change the Outlook
    AreaEventImpact on food security outcomes
    NationalSustained economic reforms strengthen the enabling environment for trade and stimulate economic activityAn improved enabling environment for trade that leads to a further decline in staple food prices in key reference markets, leading to an increase in the availability of income-earning opportunities and household purchasing power. This is likely to increase household access to food. A decline in the population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Crisis (IPC Phase 3) would be likely.
    NationalInternal divisions with parties to the 2018 peace deal lead to a more significant increase in conflictA significant increase in conflict would cause displacement, restrict household livelihood activities, significantly disrupt market functioning and trade, and impede humanitarian food assistance delivery, among other impacts. More widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would be possible, as well as an increase in households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Based on past trends, this scenario could lead to Famine (IPC Phase 5) if conflict prevented households from accessing their main food sources for a prolonged time.
    Pibor Food assistance does not resume by early 2022 and/or there is an increase in conflictIf humanitarians are unable to reach an agreement with the Murle youth to resume food assistance delivery, and if relative calm is maintained, then an increase in the number of households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) would likely occur. If a resurgence in conflict suspended food and health assistance, caused displacement, and disrupted livelihood and market activities for a prolonged time, then past trends suggest this scenario could lead to Famine (IPC Phase 5) given the already large population in Emergency (IPC Phase 4).
    Greater Tonj of Warrap Adherence to local peace agreement and a decline in conflictIn the event that local youths agree to disarm or adhere to the local peace initiatives, then a return of relative calm to Tonj East and Tonj North would likely permit greater household engagement in livelihood activities, improve trade flows and market functioning, and better facilitate food and non-food assistance delivery to food-insecure households. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes would be likely during the harvesting and post-harvesting period. 
    Jonglei-Upper Nile border regionUnwillingness of the parties to reconcile at Khartoum peace talks, leading to spreading conflict  If conflict between SPLM/A-IO factions spreads from the western bank of the Nile in Manyo to the eastern bank, food security conditions in adjacent counties – including Melut, Baliet and Malakal – would likely deteriorate. Impacts would likely include disruption to harvest, trade, and market activities, as well as food assistance delivery. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would be expected.  


    Figures Map of South Sudan showing current food security outcomes, October 2021

    Figure 1

    Current food security outcomes, October 2021

    Source: FEWS NET

    Chart showing the Trend in the percent of the South Sudanese population reporting a poor or borderline Food Consumption Score

    Figure 2

    Figure 1

    Source: Food Security and Nutrition Monitoring System data

    Map of South Sudan showing Conflict events in hotspots, July-September 2021

    Figure 3

    Figure 2

    Source: data from Armed Conflict Location and Event Data Project

    Map of South Sudan showing the Location of flood-affected population, Oct. 2021

    Figure 4

    Figure 3

    Source: OCHA

    Map of South Sudan showing vegetation conditions shown as a percent of the 2003-2017 median based on eMODIS NDVI, October 1-1

    Figure 5

    Figure 4

    Source: USGS

    Map of South Sudan showing Market functioning and trade route activity, October 2021

    Figure 6

    Figure 5

    Source: FEWS NET

    Chart showing Price of a malwa (3.5 kg) of white sorghum compared to the parallel and official exchange rates, Jul. 2016 – Se

    Figure 7

    Figure 6

    Source: data from the Crop and Livestock Monitoring Information System

    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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