South Sudan + 5 more

GIEWS Country Brief: South Sudan 01-March-2021

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FOOD SECURITY SNAPSHOT

  1. Cereal production in 2020 estimated at 874 400 tonnes, 7 percent above 2019 average output, but still well below pre‑conflict levels

  2. Exceptionally high food prices constraining access to food for large segments of population

  3. Dire food security situation, with almost half of total population (about 5.8 million people) estimated severely food insecure between December 2020 and March 2021

Increased cereal production in 2020 despite substantial flood‑induced losses

Harvesting of the 2020 main season crops was completed last January. According to the preliminary findings of the 2020/21 FAO/WFP Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM), the aggregate cereal production is estimated at 874 400 tonnes, 7 percent above the 2019 average output, but still well below the pre‑conflict levels. The overall cereal deficit in the January/December 2021 marketing year is estimated at 465 600 tonnes, 3.5 percent below the deficit estimated for 2020, but still 5 percent above the 2016‑2020 average.

The planted area increased slightly in 2020 compared to 2019 mainly due to security improvements that prompted some displaced households to return to their places of origin and engage in agricultural activities. The increased availability of family labour due to the closure of schools following the COVID‑19‑related restrictions also contributed to the expansion of plantings. Abundant precipitation amounts boosted yields, but torrential rains and river overflows triggered unusually widespread flooding, especially in Jonglei, Lakes and Upper Nile states, which resulted in significant crop losses. While cereal production increased by 10‑30 percent from 2019 in Central Equatoria, Western Equatoria, Unity and Western Bahr El Ghazal states, it declined by 13 percent in Jonglei State due to floods.

Food prices at exceptionally high levels

In the capital, Juba, prices of maize and sorghum, already at high levels, surged by almost 70 percent in the month of October 2020 due to an abrupt depreciation of the local currency on the parallel market. Subsequently, prices increased at slower rates in November and December, and firmed up in January 2021 as the second season harvest in southern bi‑modal rainfall areas increased market availabilities. January prices were at exceptionally high levels, more than three times the already high year‑earlier values. Factors contributing to the extremely high prices are: the difficult macro‑economic situation, inadequate domestic supplies, the lingering impact of the prolonged conflict , high transport costs due to high fuel prices and informal taxation . In the first half of 2020, additional upward pressure on food prices was exerted by the introduction of the COVID‑19 screening measures at border points in Uganda, the country's main source of imports, which hampered trade flows.

Dire food security situation due to multiple shocks

Since early 2021, the seasonal deterioration of the food security situation has been compounded by the severe livelihood losses in central and eastern areas affected by floods in mid‑ and late 2020, the lingering impact of the prolonged conflict, the COVID‑19 pandemic and the ongoing economic crisis. According to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, almost half of the total population (about 5.8 million people) is estimated to face IPC Phase 3: "Crisis" or worse levels of acute food insecurity during the December 2020‑March 2021 period. The highest prevalence of food insecurity is reported in Jonglei State and in neighbouring Pibor Administrative Area, the areas worst affected by the floods, where about 80 percent of the population is severely food insecure and 11 000 people are facing IPC Phase 5: "Catastrophe" levels of acute food insecurity.

After the cease‑fire signed in 2018, the security situation has generally improved. However, it remains volatile and, in 2020, inter‑communal violence increased, especially in Jonglei State. Between January and September 2020, about 261 000 displaced people returned to their places of origin, including 254 000 from within the country and 7 000 from abroad. Currently, about 1.62 million people remain internally displaced and 2.19 million South Sudanese refugees are still residing in neighbouring countries (Uganda, the Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia and Kenya).