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Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will expand during the post-harvest period

  • Key Message Update
  • South Sudan
  • January 2024
Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will expand during the post-harvest period

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) outcomes persist across the country, with Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes expected to expand from 22 to 28 counties in the post-harvest period, mostly concentrated in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, and Eastern Equatoria. The anticipated deterioration is due to protracted negative impacts of conflict and poor macroeconomic conditions, compounded by high returnee burden and faster-than-normal depletion of household food stocks. Conditions remain severe in Rubkona of Unity and Pibor of Greater Administrative Area (GPAA) with some households likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in the presence of ongoing humanitarian assistance, as confirmed by FEWS NET’s recent rapid food security assessments in January. Some among the returnee population are also likely facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) given lack of assets, severely limited coping capacity, and high dependence on assistance. Nyirol, Duk, and Uror of Jonglei; parts of Upper Nile; and Aweil East of Northern Bahr El Ghazal remain of high concern, given high returnee burden and insecurity that are limiting households’ livelihoods and periodically interfering with food assistance deliveries. 
    • After weeks of rumors, conflict reignited in Jonglei with a large attack purportedly by armed Murle at Poktap cattle camp in Duk County on January 6 that resulted in the deaths of 24 people, 30 wounded, and over 7,000 cattle raided. Retaliatory action is likely to follow, as already seen in the theft of 250 heads of cattle on January 24. Meanwhile, conditions remain volatile in the Abyei Administrative Area (AA)-Warrap border region between the Dinka Ngok of Abyei AA and the Dinka Twic of Twic County in Warrap, continuing to disrupt livelihoods and trade flows. Following the death of the Deputy Chief Administrator on December 31, 2023, multiple incidences were recorded including a clash on January 2, abductions of women on January 11 and 24, and the deadliest attack in 3 years on January 29, in which more than 50 people, including a UN peacekeeper, were killed and at least 64 wounded. In Unity State, fighting erupted on January 29 between SSPDF and SPLA-IO in Barkuol Ngol of Rubkona in violation of the peace deal, leading to the temporary closure of the road between Rotriak and Rubkona Town, disrupting trade and aid flows. In Greater Equatoria, tensions remain high between farmers and cattle keepers affecting crop production and trade flows, as recently evidenced by the killing of cattle herders in Ikotos on January 22. 
    • By the end of January, over 530,000 people entered South Sudan from Sudan as the war entered its ninth month. The number of Sudanese refugees arriving increased considerably after RSF attacks on Wad Madani in the heavily populated Sudanese state of Al Jazirah in December, spiking in the first half of January. During these first few weeks of 2024, Sudanese refugees accounted for over 40 percent of new arrivals. By comparison, Sudanese refugees accounted for about 17-18 percent of total arrivals in the months of November and December, respectively. Average daily arrivals continue to fluctuate between about 1,500 and 2,500 per day and are expected at similar levels in the near term as the conflict continues. Meanwhile, the number of new arrivals from Ethiopia into bordering areas of Upper Nile and Jonglei slowed in January, averaging 100 new arrivals per day for a total of over 100,000 returnees.  
    • The El Nino enhanced rainfall between October and December 2023 has led to increased availability of pasture and water, fair to good livestock body conditions, and delayed departure of livestock in most parts of the agro-pastoral and pastoral livelihoods zones in January. However, in localized areas of Pibor of GPAA, parts of Greater Kapoeta and in Maiwut of Upper Nile, livestock have started moving to far dry season grazing areas. Livestock production generally remains limited by poor access to veterinary services, cattle raiding, and insecurity, particularly in Abyei AA, Twic of Warrap, Pibor, and Duk of Jonglei. In Pibor and Duk, FEWS NET monitoring has also reported some cases of livestock diseases such as respiratory and foot diseases in a few cattle camps, in line with seasonal trends. In the counties bordering Sudan, the increasing presence of Sudanese nomads, while providing increased access to milk currently, is increasing pressure on rangeland resources and likely to trigger tensions over resource use between nomads and the host community as the dry season advances.
    • The above-average rains also contributed to flooding and displacement which has persisted into January in some areas. In Pibor, FEWS NET’s rapid assessment found continued riverine flooding in some areas along the Nile River and in low-lying areas of Vertheth payam of Pibor. Key informants also indicated that parts of Fangak and Twic East of Jonglei, Rubkona and Mayendit of Unity, and western parts of Ageer payam of Duk are continuing to experience high residual floodwaters that is contributing to elevated human and livestock diseases incidence. However, overall flood levels remain lower than in previous years and in many areas, residual floodwaters have started gradually receding. For example, declining flood levels in Rotriak Payam are permitting livestock owners to migrate to Panakuach Boma for better pastures and facilitating road and dike repairs between Bentiu and Guit, Mayom, and Pariang. Likewise, flooded areas along the Bor to Pibor road have also receded, permitting movement of commercial trucks to Pibor. According to stream flow forecasts, above-normal flows are expected to persist through March in central, north-western, and eastern parts of South Sudan, before declining in April and May. 
    • The availability of wild foods is seasonally high in January, though will begin to decline through the dry season toward typical lows in March/April. According to FEWS NET’s field observations, households in areas such as Pibor, Duk, and Rubkona report sustained access to nearby sources, but indicate that access to distant areas is challenging due to insecurity and natural hazards, such as snake bites. This is consistent with the earlier assessments by REACH in late December in Rubkona that confirmed gathering of wild foods remains highly risky to many flood-displaced and newly arrived returnees. 
    • Cereal imports from Uganda in the fourth quarter of 2023 (October-December) were lower than the last quarter (June-September), the same time last year, and the five-year average due in part to the availability of local harvests now as well as recent changes in customs payments that increased the cost of transactions and transport. For example, sorghum and maize imports were 64-67 percent, 45-61 percent, and 83-91 percent lower than last quarter, last year, and the five-year average, respectively. Minimal to no trading activity is occurring between Sudan and South Sudan following the expansion of the conflict in late December and anticipation of below-average harvests in Sudan. Above-average flows between Ethiopia and South Sudan were also reported this quarter, reflecting a shift in supply sourcing amid disruptions at other border points.  
    • In January, lean season response distributions anticipated to reach about 600,000 this month were ongoing or planned to start in areas of highest concern, including Rubkona of Unity, Pibor of GPAA, Duk and Nyirol of Jonglei, and Aweil East of Northern Bahr El Ghazal. Distributions have been delayed, however, due to poor road conditions, as confirmed by FEWS NET’s field observations in parts of Pibor affecting access particularly to Vuvueth and Manyobol centers. The Sudan crisis response has also continued in January, reaching over 424,000 people with High Energy Biscuits (HEBs), in-kind food, or cash assistance, of which 102,000 returnees were reached at their final destinations. January distributions at refugee camps and Malakal Protection of Civilians site for displaced persons are anticipated to begin in the last week of January. In total, the agency plans to reach 1.4 million people in January with General Food Distribution and Asset Creation and Livelihoods assistance. In other Priority 2 and 3 counties, the lean season response will begin in March and April, respectively. However, the overall reach of assistance will continue to be limited by funding constraints, as well as by insecurity and road conditions.  
    • Although both December 2023 and January 2024 price data for sorghum are not yet available in CLIMIS, analysis of WFP’s market price monitoring data for December 2023 indicated generally stable retail prices for a malwa (3.5 kg) of sorghum in Juba, slight increases in Aweil (7 percent), and declines in Bor South, Rumbek Centre, and Wau of 10-40 percent. The declines in prices are due to the availability of local harvest and the continued flow of imports from Uganda. Compared to December 2022, however, the prices of white sorghum in Rumbek Centre, Aweil Centre, and Juba were 30, 38, and 108 percent higher, respectively, due to ongoing currency depreciation and higher import costs.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. South Sudan Key Message Update January 2024: Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes will expand during the post-harvest period, 2024.

    This Key Message Update provides a high-level analysis of current acute food insecurity conditions and any changes to FEWS NET's latest projection of acute food insecurity outcomes in the specified geography. Learn more here.

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