South Sudan

N. Bahr el Ghazal facing dire food shortages

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April 18, 2015 (JUBA) – Thousand of people are at risk of starvation in South Sudan’s Northern Bahr Al Ghazal state unless the national government intervenes.

State information minister Wek Kuch Deng issued the warning on Saturday as Juba delivered food relief to Warrap state, another territory threatened by hunger.

Deng said last year’s poor harvest and continued air raids blamed on neighbouring Sudan had caused major disruption to agricultural activities.

“No people have died at the present. The bad thing is that there is a possibility that people are going to die,” said Deng by phone from state capital Aweil,.

“It (the food shortage) is beyond our capacity at the state level, so we need [a] solution from the national level, not us here,” he added.

Deng said the closure of the border between Sudan and South Sudan is also hindering deliveries of food items, calling on Juba to intervene to salvage the situation.

FOOD RELIEF FOR WARRAP

On Thursday in neighbouring Warrap state, the home state of president Salva Kiir, the government provided five trucks of grain on Thursday, to avert what officials described as an acute food shortage, threatening more than half of the state’s population.

Like in Northern Bahr Al Ghazal, officials there said the current situation was the result of poor harvest returns and the border closure.

South Sudan imports almost all goods, including food items, from neighbouring countries.

Warrap information minister Paul Dhel Gum said while the grain will be supplied to the market at affordable prices, many families would still be unable to afford it.

“But the efforts being played by our governor and the national government are giving people hope and strength to resist the challenges of hunger,” he said.

Kiir also handed over 1,000 tractors to the ministry of agriculture on Thursday as part of government efforts to boost food production.

In the past, equipment provided to state governments has failed to turn around food production in rural areas.

(ST)