USAID FEWS February Bulletin
It is the dry season in southern Sudan. Although light rains have been reported along the Ethiopian border and in Bahr el Ghazal and Lakes Provinces, crop cultivation at present is limited to riparian areas with access to irrigation. Generally, both farmers and pastoralists have shifted to dry-season patterns, relying more on grain stores, livestock, fish, wild foods, and, in some locations, food aid. As pasture conditions have deteriorated, following the usual seasonal pattern, the best grazing is in swampy areas along the Nile and other major rivers.
Operation Lifeline Sudan assessment teams recently visited parts of Bahr el Ghazal, Jonglei, and Upper Nile Provinces. They report that in Bahr el Ghazal, food shortages and hunger are confined to villages in the Gogrial area, where militias have burned houses and looted food stores. In Aweil County, 80 km northwest of Gogrial, villages are untouched by militia activity and there are ample food reserves from last season's good sorghum harvest. In Jonglei and Upper Nile Provinces, the teams visited areas that had been inaccessible during several months of fighting. In Motot and Langken (near Waat), about 7,000 persons-both longtime residents and displaced persons-will require food aid assistance through the "hunger period," which lasts from March to June. In the Akobo area, civil insecurity and a government ban on aircraft continued to prevent relief agencies from reaching the area.
In Eastern Equatoria, Norwegian Church Aid and the African Inland Church recently conducted a rapid assessment of relief needs in the Torit-Magwi area, where intense fighting took place during the latter half of 1995 and most of the area's population fled into the surrounding mountains or northern Uganda. The assessment team noted that many of the people who had fled are slowly returning to their villages. Approximately 16,000 people were found to be in need of immediate food and nonfood aid assistance.
The World Food Program, in its 1996 emergency food aid plan for southern Sudan, which includes interventions by nongovernmental organizations, estimates the region's food aid needs at about 40,000 MT. These projections are based on the harvest assessment conducted by Operation Lifeline Sudan between October and December 1995. The bulk of the assistance is targeted for Eastern Equatoria and Bahr el Ghazal, where there are large displaced populations in addition to isolated areas of drought (see figure 5).