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Scaling up of assistance needed to prevent Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes

  • Key Message Update
  • South Sudan
  • July 2023
Scaling up of assistance needed to prevent Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The scale and severity of acute food insecurity increased in July with widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes across the country. At the peak of the lean season in July and August, over 60 percent of the population is expected to be food insecure, with 37 counties expected to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Food security conditions in South Sudan were already poor due to large crop production deficits, erosion of household assets, and high and rising staple food prices amidst limited income-earning opportunities due to years of conflict and floods. The situation has been further exacerbated by the Sudan crisis, which is driving a rise in displacement and disrupting cross-border trade flows and market functionality. According to field monitoring activities conducted by FEWS NET and key informants, many host, internally displaced, and returnee households in northern counties bordering Sudan are currently entirely dependent on food assistance and fish. A scale up of food assistance is critical to preventing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes.

    • As of the end of July, nearly 200,000 South Sudanese returnees and refugees have fled Sudan into South Sudan’s northern bordering counties, aggravating high tensions in the area. This month saw skirmishes between SSPDF and SPLA-IO forces in several locations within Upper Nile affecting livelihoods, trade flow, and humanitarian assistance delivery. Tensions have also remained high at the Malakal Protection of Civilians (POC) since the violence broke out on June 8, despite ongoing efforts by local authorities and UNMISS to de-escalate intercommunal tensions. The continued mobilization of the youth prompted the Troika (Governments of the United States, United Kingdom, and Norway) to issue a statement on June 30 calling on local authorities and communities to cease violence. Of additional concern is the rise in cattle rustling and retaliatory attacks as livestock return closer to homesteads during the rainy season. Two such incidences were reported in July along the border between Twic in Warrap and Mayom in Unity and between Tonj East in Warrap and Rumbek North in Lakes.

    • Although relative calm persists in the Greater Equatoria region, the continued presence of and raids by the armed cattle keepers in Mundri areas of Western Equatoria are threatening the lives and livelihoods of the local inhabitants. Local authorities have called for the peaceful return of the cattle keepers, but some are still roaming around Mundri West, destroying crops. In Eastern Equatoria, attacks between Buya and Toposa communities and along the Kapoeta-Torit road are interfering with the movement of humanitarians, traders, and civilians. In some parts of Central Equatoria, where relative calm has persisted, South Sudanese refugees from Uganda and the DRC continue to return to their places of origin, although the rate of return is lower than previously anticipated due to insecurity. According to local authorities, almost 9,000 people have returned to Yei County between March and June, with the highest return of nearly 4,000 people in June. The returnees have fully engaged in crop production activities despite some periodic security threats.

    • First-season crop production outcomes in southern and western bimodal areas are mixed. In some areas, poor spatial and temporal distribution of the first season (March-May) rains reduced or delayed the harvest. In parts of Ikotos and Magwi of Eastern Equatoria, for instance, maize harvests are likely to be lower than last year. In southern Torit and eastern Magwi of Eastern Equatoria and in Yei of Central Equatoria, maize development was delayed and crops are not expected to reach maturity until the end of July. On the other hand, field reports indicate that the harvest in Kajo-Keji, Morobo, and particularly Yei of Central Equatoria is generally better than the same season last year and better than other areas in both Eastern and Central Equatoria. The improvement was facilitated by an increase in area planted and favorable rainfall. Meanwhile, in parts of Western Equatoria, the first season harvest is likely to be similar to last year due to near-normal rainfall and relative calm.

    • In the rest of the country, the June to September main rainy season has exhibited poor spatial and temporal distribution to-date and below-average cumulative rainfall, particularly in the center and southeast. Areas of Pibor of GPAA and the Kapoetas in Eastern Equatoria have seen localized atypical dryness persisting into July, with soil moisture ranking below the 30th percentile in south-eastern pastoral zones. Field monitoring information from Mayendit of Unity, Fashoda of Upper Nile, Pibor, Yei of Central Equatoria, and southern Torit of Eastern Equatoria confirm rainfall performance has slightly improved in July, ranging from fair to good during recent weeks. Most field crops in unimodal areas are still in the germination and weeding stages due to delayed planting, poor rainfall, and dry spells earlier in the season. In areas where planting was timely, planted crops are in weeding and seed formation stages. In Manyo, Fashoda, and Panyikang of Upper Nile, key informants report consumption of green maize among those who planted short-term maize near the riverbanks.

    • Increased rainfall amounts from early to late July have led to an expansion in flood extent, but overall flood extent in the coming months is still expected to be lower than in the past two years based on NOAA, USGS, and NASA streamflow and rainfall forecasting. The recent rise in river water levels linked to above-average rainfall performance in the Ethiopia highlands has contributed to newly flooded areas along the Sobat and Akobo catchment areas in July. In addition, satellite monitoring for the period of 13-19 July 2023 shows flood extents in the Sudd wetland areas are currently similar to the same period in 2022 due to consistent rainfall over the past few weeks of July. However, GloFAS streamflow forecasts for the Sobat and White Nile rivers show that the median flow of the two rivers will most likely remain below climatologically normal conditions throughout the rainy season as a function of overall below-average rainfall.

    • Availability of pasture and livestock products have increased in most pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihood areas due to the slight improvement in rainfall performance during the first half of July 2023. Field monitoring reports from Leer and Mayendit of Unity; Torit and Kapoeta of Eastern Equatoria; Fashoda of Upper Nile; Fangak and Duk of Jonglei; and Pibor of GPAA indicate pasture and livestock conditions are generally fair to good. Most herds have returned to the homesteads and are providing milk for household consumption and sale, facilitating the purchase of market foods. According to the Normalized Difference Vegetation Index (NDVI) for July 11 – 20, above-normal vegetation conditions are present in most pastoral and agro-pastoral livelihood zones. However, there are key exceptions where vegetation conditions remain poor in mid-July, including southeastern GPAA; Fangak, Ayod, Duk and Twic of Jonglei; much of Unity; and the Yirol areas of Lakes.

    • In Juba, Wau, Aweil, and Rumbek Centre reference markets, June retail prices of a malwa (3.5 kg) of sorghum increased by around 10-35 percent compared to last month and by 10-65 percent compared to last quarter. Significant disruptions in cross-border trade with Sudan, tighter competition for the available tradeable cereals within the East Africa region, deteriorating exchange rates, and a rise in the cost of imports are contributing to declining local market supplies and atypically high staple food prices. The official and parallel SSP to USD exchange rate dropped by 3-6 percent from May to June and by 97-101 percent compared to the same time last year. This rise in high staple food prices combined with limited income and poor macroeconomic conditions is further limiting households’ access to food across most markets.

    • WFP reached 2 million people in June and plans to reach 3 million people in July with food assistance, which represents roughly 35 percent of FEWS NET’s estimated number of people in need at the peak of the lean season. WFP has prepositioned around 97 percent of its total planned prepositioning requirements during the rainy season, with 100 percent pre-positioned in Lakes, Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Western Bahr el Ghazal, and Western Equatoria. However, WFP continues to face numerous challenges to delivery and distribution, including funding shortfalls, rising needs with the ongoing Sudan crisis, limited transport capacity, and insecurity. According to available distribution data and plans, assistance is anticipated to prevent worse outcomes across much of Jonglei, Pibor of GPAA, parts of Unity, and Abyei through the peak of lean season. However, additional assistance is needed in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Lakes, parts of Upper Nile, central Unity, and eastern parts of Eastern Equatoria to prevent Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes.

    Recommended citation: FEWS NET. South Sudan Key Message Update July 2023: Scaling up of assistance needed to prevent Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes, 2023.

    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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