The Fight For Food In South Sudan
Nyombol -- a mother of seven children -- carries her family's tin of fortified vegetable oil. Her family, like many in Bentiu, fled their homes for several weeks. Upon their return they found their home has been looted and they are now left without food supplies.
South Sudan officially declared independence on 9 July 2011 to become the United Nations 193rd member state. The country has a total area of 644, 329 square kilometers, and is roughly the size of France or Afghanistan.
Fighting erupted in Juba, the capital city, in mid-December 2013 and rapidly spread to other parts of the country. By August 2015, a peace agreement was signed but has not yet been implemented in full. With over 2.3 million citizens uprooted from their homes (1.7 million internally displaced, 650,000 taking refuge in neighbouring countries), it’s impossible to know where the next meal will come from - or if it will even come at all.
The country is overwhelmingly rural. Approximately 90 percent of South Sudanese households depend on crop farming, animal husbandry, fishing or forestry for their livelihoods, but productivity across these sectors is minimal. It is estimated that only four percent of the arable land is cultivated. Labour and trade opportunities are often limited. This makes South Sudan one of the most difficult environments for WFP to work in.
Food insecurity is persistent. A severe famine is leaving many at risk. With the lean season approaching, almost a quarter of the population is in urgent need of food assistance. These numbers are 84% higher than this time last year.
The country is, however, endowed with natural resources, which if well-managed could offer immense opportunities to enhance overall economic and social well-being.
WFP plans to assist over 3 million South Sudanese throughout 2016. WFP will support vulnerable families with programmes to improve food security, including school meals and asset-creation initiatives. In relatively stable areas, with safe access and existing food stocks, the emphasis is on resilience-building activities.
Photo credit: WFP/George Fominyen