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Population in need outpaces assistance delivery and risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists

  • Key Message Update
  • South Sudan
  • March 2019
Population in need outpaces assistance delivery and risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Extreme levels of acute food insecurity persist across South Sudan in March. The population in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse has increased relative to during the October to January harvesting period, and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes are likely among worst-affected households in Canal/Pigi and Pibor of Jonglei, Panyikang of Upper Nile, and Cueibet of Lakes. High levels of acute food insecurity are driven by little or no harvests, seasonally low or no consumption of livestock products, and localized insecurity that is limiting access to assistance, markets, and wild foods. A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists in South Sudan.  

    • In February 1.2 million people were reached with humanitarian food assistance (HFA) through WFP and this assistance continues to play a key role in mitigating worse outcomes in many areas. Given that the reach of HFA deliveries in February was lower than originally expected, outcomes in March are likely worse in some counties than previously projected. Additionally, some counties in which the January IPC analysis indicated populations are likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), including Pibor and Cueibet, have not received HFA between December and February and it is expected that extreme need persists among worst-affected households in these counties. Overall, the reach of HFA is lower than the estimated 7.1 million people in need. 

    • Conflict has declined in South Sudan in March compared to January and February. Relative stability in Mawuit has encouraged the return of an estimated 4,000 people from Ethiopia, and key informant information indicates that some IDPs from Bentiu have returned to Leer and Mayendit, likely putting additional stress on available food sources in recipient areas. However, armed clashes have persisted in several areas including Lakes State and Greater Yirol, as well as Abiemnhom of Unity, Sobat corridor of Upper Nile, Kediba of Mundri East, and rural parts of Yei, disrupting markets, trade flows, and basic services delivery. In Tonj North of Warrap, cattle-raiding has led to the loss of lives and livestock. In Jur River of Western Bahr el Ghazal, clashes between pastoralists and farmers in mid-March also led to the loss of lives and displaced an estimated 9,000 people.

    • Information from the recently released 2018/19 CFSAM report estimates net cereal production at approximately 745,000 tons, 15.5 percent below the five-year average and 2.5 percent lower than 2017/18 production. The poor performance of the 2018 cropping season was driven by below-average and erratic rainfall, pest infestations, and insecurity. According to data from the 23rd FSNMS, around 57 percent of households harvested cereals expected to last only 1 to 4 months, compared to around 7 months in pre-crisis years. This is corroborated by rapid assessments conducted by FEWS NET in mid-February in Cueibet of Lakes and mid-March in Pibor of Jonglei which found that many households have already depleted stocks. In bimodal areas, the March to May rainfall has started in most southern areas and total seasonal rainfall is now forecast to be average with some localized areas of above-average rainfall.

    • Staple food prices remain very high due to below average production, further depreciation of the South Sudanese Pound (SSP), low market supplies, high transportation costs, and relatively low imports from Sudan. Based on price data from CLiMIS, the retail price of white sorghum in February in Juba was 187 percent above the five-year average, though 83 percent lower than February 2018. In Wau, the retail price of sorghum was 562 percent higher than the five-year average and 193 percent higher than last year. Fuel prices increased from 200 to 240 SSP/liter in Juba and 360 to 435 SSP/liter in Wau between February and March 2019. Trade flows to rural markets including in Leer and Mayendit of Unity, Duk of Jonglei, and Maiwut of Upper Nile have slightly improved given relative improvements in security in recent months and seasonally improved road access.

    • HFA is expected to scale up to between 2.5 and 4 million people per month during the lean season and is expected to prevent more extreme outcomes in several areas; however, food security is still likely to deteriorate based on current outcomes and past trends. An estimated 7.7 million people will be in need of food assistance during the May-July/August peak of the lean season, and the population in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) is also expected to increase. The January IPC acute malnutrition analysis projected the prevalence of global acute malnutrition (GAM) to remain at Serious (GAM (WHZ) 10.0-14.9%) or above in 55 counties between May and August. A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) is expected to persist in areas of greatest concern, though new areas could emerge quickly in the event that conflict escalates.

    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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