Skip to main content

New survey data confirm severe to extreme acute food insecurity in Fangak and Canal/Pigi

  • Key Message Update
  • South Sudan
  • March 2022
New survey data confirm severe to extreme acute food insecurity in Fangak and Canal/Pigi

Download the Report

  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • Severe to extreme acute food insecurity persists in multiple areas of South Sudan. Households are quickly depleting their food stocks from the 2021 harvests, residual floodwaters and ongoing sub-national violence continue to significantly limit normal livelihood activities and impede the humanitarian response, and macro-economic challenges further constrain household capacity to purchase food. Many households have large to extreme food consumption gaps indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse outcomes. Areas of extreme concern include Fangak, Canal/Pigi, and Uror counties of Jonglei; Pibor; Tambura County of Western Equatoria; Cueibet and Rumbek North Counties of Lakes; Leer and Mayendit of Unity; and Tonj East of Warrap, where a subset of households are likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). A scale-up of food, nutrition, and livelihoods assistance, supported by unhindered humanitarian access, is still required to save lives and livelihoods and end the persistent risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5).

    • The provisional results of two SMART surveys conducted in Fangak and Canal/Pigi counties by Action Against Hunger and International Medical Corps in March 2022 found that food consumption, acute malnutrition, and mortality levels are below the Famine (IPC Phase 5) thresholds. Nevertheless, the results confirm the situation remains quite severe, as a large share of each county’s population are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and some households have extreme hunger indicative of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Outcomes in Canal/Pigi are increasingly concerning, with nearly 40 percent of households reporting severe to extreme hunger. Acute malnutrition has surpassed the Critical (GAM WHZ 15.0-29.9 percent) threshold in both counties, and new SAM and MAM admissions show a rising trend as receding floodwaters permit more households to access health and nutrition services. Key informants and survey responses suggest food assistance was delivered in large quantities in February and March but has yet to drive more significant improvement given the severity of food consumption gaps, near-collapse of livelihoods, and inaccessibility of some remote areas.

    • The situation in Fangak and Canal/Pigi illustrates the extreme vulnerability of households in northern and eastern South Sudan to the anticipated above-average rainfall season in 2022, which is likely to result in a fourth consecutive flood year. Although floodwaters substantially receded in March, water levels are still high in parts of Jonglei, Unity, and Upper Nile and continue to impede market restocking and humanitarian assistance delivery and pre-positioning before the rains start in June. Based on a rapid field assessment that FEWS NET conducted in Fangak and Canal/Pigi in March, many households have no food stocks, few to no livestock, and low market access, leaving them to depend on food assistance, water lilies, and fish. Humanitarian access to remote, flood-affected areas remains very difficult, requiring costly air deliveries and arduous trips by boat. The worst-off payams and villages include Boungpuot, Whichor, Kuerdol, and Atar 2 in Canal/Pigi and Toch, Dhoreak, Bei, Tiep, Tambuong, Puokbor, Kuerkier, Thalier, Rorkur, Mankueilual, and Mangajang in Fangak.  

    • Poor rangeland conditions have pushed pastoralists and their livestock into southern farming zones, leading to armed confrontations in Juba, Wulu, and Magwi counties marked by loss of life, large-scale population displacement, looting, and disruptions to first-season planting, honey harvesting, and trade. In Magwi, attacks carried out by Dinka Bor cattle keepers displaced around 17,000 people (7 percent of the county population) as of March. Land disputes and retaliatory attacks have similarly displaced households and reduced cross-border trade in the north, especially in Warrap. Conflict between Dinka communities in Twic County and Abyei has displaced an estimated 50,000 people (60 percent of the area population) to date, a situation further exacerbated by incursions by the Misseriya, a nomadic group from Sudan. Raids and revenge killings persist in the greater Tonj area, especially in Tonj East and adjacent areas of Rumbek North in Lakes.

    • Conflict remains of very high concern in the Greater Upper Nile Region, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are widespread. Security conditions in Jonglei and Pibor remain volatile with signs of further escalation in the near term, and recurrent attacks on humanitarian convoys and assets threaten WFP’s ability to pre-position and deliver food assistance. The Pieri Peace Process between the Dinka Bor, Murle, and Lou Nuer communities has stalled; Murle youths have reportedly carried out more raids in Nyirol, Uror, and Walgak; and there are rumors of further armed mobilization and reports that the Lou Nuer and Anyuak communities from Gambella, Ethiopia, are also getting involved. In Unity and Upper Nile, the ongoing SSPDF offensive against the SPLA-IO poses risks to humanitarian supply delivery out of Bentiu and Sudan. 

    • Conversely, security conditions have relatively calmed in Tambura and surrounding areas of Western Equatoria compared to February. While skirmishes and shifting allegiances among SSPDF and SPLA-IO forces continue to result in an unpredictable humanitarian operating environment, available information from WFP and partners indicate humanitarian access is improving. Field reports suggest the population in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) has declined in both Tambura and Nagero, driven by food and cash assistance, market recovery, and increased freedom of population movement. 

    • Overall, the latest field assessments and key informant reports confirm that households face an early start to a long 2022 lean season from March to September. According to the preliminary results of the WFP-FAO Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission for 2021/2022, national cereal production in 2021 was about 4 percent lower than 2020’s already low production amounts, leading to a 16 percent increase in the national cereal deficit. The largest state-level deficits are in severely flood-affected areas, including Jonglei, Warrap, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, and Unity, where most households are increasingly reliant on hunting and gathering and food assistance. Livestock body conditions remain generally very poor in the worst flood-affected areas, while insecurity restricts access to grazing and water resources.

    • First-season crop production in southern and western South Sudan is off to an uneven start, signaling a likely decline in area planted. The March to May rains are delayed in much of Greater Equatoria and Western Bahr el Ghazal, with few exceptions. There is still potential for partial recovery, as land preparation is underway and seasonal rainfall forecasts call for above-average rainfall in April and May. However, the ongoing attacks by pastoralists on farmers is interfering with land preparation activities in multiple areas of Central and Eastern Equatoria, where high levels of insecurity persist.

    • Rising global food and fuel costs risk further diminishing household purchasing power, which remains low despite the relative decline in food prices in 2021. According to CLiMIS food price monitoring data, year-on-year changes in the retail price of a malwa (3.5 kg) of white sorghum trended 18-29 percent lower in Wau and Aweil Centre, stable in Juba, and nine percent higher in Rumbek Centre in February, while prices were 17-131 percent above the five-year average in all four markets. Rising fuel costs are likely to exacerbate the already high costs of importing and transporting food, which will be passed on to consumers. In addition, global wheat supply shocks related to the Russia-Ukraine war are expected to place upward pressure on the local prices of wheat products, which are mainly imported via Sudan from Russia, and may have knock-on effects on other staple foods as demand shifts away from wheat. Preliminary cross-border trade data already suggest a significant drop in wheat import volumes from Sudan in early March, though wheat prices are stable so far. 

    • Based on interim WFP distribution reports, humanitarians plan to reach up to 2.8 million people (23 percent of the country population or 35-40 percent of the total population in need) with General Food Distribution and Food for Assets in March under the flood response and 2022 lean season response. The plan seeks to prioritize areas with households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), other households worst affected by flooding, households recently displaced by conflict, and protracted IDPs, including over 123,400 flood-affected people and those newly displaced by conflict in Magwi, Abyei, Twic counties. Available distribution information confirms at least 60 percent of those displaced in Magwi and at least 35 percent of those displaced from Agok, Abyei, have received food assistance. Given the size and severity of the food insecure population nationally, coupled with inadequate funding and numerous logistical and security challenges in reaching the flood- and conflict-affected people, millions of people are still unlikely to receive food assistance.

    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.

    Get the latest food security updates in your inbox Sign up for emails

    The information provided on this Website is not official U.S. Government information and does not represent the views or positions of the U.S. Agency for International Development or the U.S. Government.

    Jump back to top