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Food assistance will remain critical in preventing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in several areas

  • Key Message Update
  • South Sudan
  • March 2023
Food assistance will remain critical in preventing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in several areas

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  • Key Messages
  • Key Messages
    • The scale and severity of acute food insecurity in South Sudan remain high due to the protracted negative impacts of conflict and insecurity, poor macro-economic conditions, and high food and non-food prices, combined with the seasonal declines in food stocks and wild foods and low income-earning opportunities as the dry season progresses in much of the unimodal areas of Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr el Ghazal regions. As a result, many households are projected to continue facing large to extreme food consumption gaps, indicative of Emergency (IPC Phase 4) or worse, between March and May 2023. The ongoing scale-up of assistance is critical to preventing the occurrence of more extreme outcomes.

    • Conflict and insecurity continue to undermine household food security across much of South Sudan. In parts of Upper Nile and northern Jonglei, the compounding impacts of consecutive years of flooding and episodic conflict have deeply eroded household resilience, resulting in large to extreme food consumption gaps despite ongoing food assistance deliveries, made possible by the relative lull in conflict since January. As such, Fangak, Canal/Pigi, and Akobo counties of Jonglei; Pibor County in Greater Pibor Administrative Area; and Fashoda and Panyikang counties of Upper Nile are expected to continue to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, with some households likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) through September 2023. In southern Jonglei, the incidents of cattle raiding continued in March, resulting in the death of several herdsmen, raiding of 680 heads of cattle, and abductions of women and children in Pieth and Gul bomas of Ayod County of Jonglei.

    • In the Equatorias, despite government efforts to resolve tensions between Dinka Bor cattle keepers and Equatorian farmers, clashes continued in March and caused deaths, displacement, and looting of household food stocks and property. According to field monitoring reports, the persistent threat of insecurity is interfering with household movement and farming activities and is causing some households to leave out of fear. On the border between Tonj East of Warrap and Rumbek North of Lakes, a recent escalation of inter-communal violence culminated in the deaths of 150 people and 74 livestock, injury of 67 people, and raiding of 60 head of cattle. While the government deployed security forces to the area to deter future attacks, tensions remain high. In Abyei and Twic County of Warrap, conflict continues despite local peace efforts between the Dinka Ngok and Dinka Twic communities, with the latest attack in Rumamer County of Abyei in early March resulting in the raiding of over 100 cows, burning of several houses, and looting of household food stocks.

    • The March to May rainy season has started in most of the bimodal rainfall region and is forecasted to be near average. According to satellite-based monitoring, rainfall started earlier than normal in parts of Raga County of Western Bahr el Ghazal and Yambio, Ibba, Maridi, Nzara and Ezo counties of Western Equatoria; first season maize crops are already in emergent stages. In other parts of the Equatorias, FEWS NET’s field monitoring confirmed light to moderate rainfall in mid-March, with most farming households currently engaged in land preparation for first season planting; exceptions include parts of Yei, Juba, Lainya, and Kajo-Keji counties, where land preparation has been disrupted by the ongoing presence of cattle herders. This herder-farmer conflict is likely to continue to interfere with the 2023 crop production.

    • In unimodal areas of northern South Sudan where the rainy season typically begins in June, monitoring of floodwaters confirms significant recession in most flood-affected areas of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, Unity, Abyei, and Jonglei, which is facilitating recovery of markets, trade flows, and humanitarian deliveries. Nonetheless, residual floodwater is still constraining market and humanitarian access in parts of Mayendit, Mayom, Panyijiar, Rubkona, Koch, and Guit counties of Unity and Duk and Twic East counties of Jonglei; it will likely interfere with upcoming planting given high soil saturation.

    • According to the recently released Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM) report for 2022, net cereal production was 12 percent higher than 2021 and 16 percent above the five-year average, driven by favorable rains and improved security in some parts of the country. Nonetheless, the country’s supply remains in deficit relative to consumption needs by about 485,000 MT, with the highest deficits in conflict- and flood-affected areas in Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Jonglei, and Upper Nile. Key informant reports indicate households in these high deficit areas have already depleted their own stocks and are increasingly reliant on markets for cereals, while in areas of better production, primarily in the Equatoria Region and parts of Lakes, household stocks remain generally sufficient.

    • Based on FEWS NET’s weekly cross-border monitoring data, trade flows from Uganda and Sudan generally improved in February 2023 given availability of the second season harvest from Uganda, seasonal improvements in road conditions, and relative calm along main trade routes, except for the Sudan-Abyei-Kuajok route. Quantities of sorghum and maize from Uganda via Nimule border point were 70-90 percent higher in February compared to January but remained lower (70-85 percent) than last year due to the currency depreciation. Conversely, the volumes of sorghum imported from Sudan via Gok-Machar and Warawar border points in February 2023 were 400-935 percent higher than in January and 430-665 percent higher than last year due to high supply from Sudan and increasing imports to South Sudan.

    • ​​​Based on analysis of market price data available in CLiMIS, the price of a malwa (3.5 kg) of white sorghum in February 2023 was similar to January in Aweil and Rumbek Centre markets and 5-15 percent higher in Juba, Wau, and Bor South markets due to rising demand as households become increasingly dependent on markets. Compared to the same time last year, the price per malwa of white sorghum was 115-215 percent higher in Wau, Juba, Aweil, and Bor South and 210-315 percent above the five-year average due to sharp currency depreciation in mid-February 2023 and high supply cost associated with increased fuel prices. The high staple food prices are limiting households’ access to sufficient food and contributing to acute food insecurity amongst market-dependent households. For households that depend on daily labor for income, a day’s wage in February could purchase 22, 45, and 65 percent less sorghum than the same time last year in Juba, Wau, and Aweil markets, respectively, reflecting significant deterioration in the terms of trade of labor to cereal.

    • ​​​​Livestock production in March is constrained by seasonal deterioration in pasture and water availability and ongoing insecurity that is affecting access and mobility. While most livestock have migrated seasonally to more distant grazing areas, leaving a few milking cows and goats/sheep at the homesteads for children and the elderly, migrations are limited in Pibor, Tonj, and southern Abyei due to fears of raiding. In Kapoeta East, deteriorating grazing conditions, water scarcity, and insecurity have triggered massive, atypical livestock migration to Kapoeta North, which is putting additional pressure on grazing resources in the area. According to FEWS NET’s field monitoring, livestock body conditions have generally deteriorated in most pastoral and agropastoral areas due to the seasonal reduction in pasture quantity and quality and bush-burning, except in areas of Upper Nile, Jonglei, Unity, Warrap, and some parts of southern Abyei where floodwaters have partially receded and both pasture and livestock body conditions have improved, ranging from fair to good.

    • ​​​​Food assistance needs remain high, driven by surges in conflict in late December to early January, the protracted impacts of flooding, and poor macroeconomic conditions. FEWS NET assesses that more than half of the country’s population is in need of humanitarian assistance currently. In February, WFP has reached 1.42 million people with General Food Distributions and Food for Assets programs, representing 23 and 12 percent of the people in need and of the country’s population, respectively. However, planned distributions have been affected by insecurity, food shortages, and logistical challenges in parts of Central, Eastern Equatoria, Western Equatoria, Lakes, Warrap and Upper Nile states. Although WFP’s monthly distribution report for March is not yet available, 23 percent of the March planned distributions to priority 2 and priority 3 counties, were completed as of mid-March. Of particular concern in March was the targeting and looting of WFP convoys in Jonglei and GPAA, which has significantly impacted on WFP’s ability to preposition food before the rainy season.

    Recommended Citation: FEWS NET. South Sudan Key Message Update, March 2023: Food assistance will remain critical in preventing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in several areas, 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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