Pibor County Food Security and Livelihoods Brief: Pibor County, Jonglei State, South Sudan, April 2018

Introduction

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) ‘Key IPC Findings: January-July 2018’ report highlighted Pibor as one of the most food insecure counties in South Sudan.1 Additionally, the October 2017 Standardized Monitoring and Assessment of Relief and Transitions (SMART) survey indicated a proxy Global Acute Malnutrition of 27.9% and proxy Severe Acute Malnutrition (SAM) of 8%.2 3 Cattle raids, which previous REACH studies have linked to food insecurity, have become progressively more frequent, far ranging, and violent.4 To better understand worsening food insecurity, cattle raiding, and the linkages between cattle migrations and deteriorating humanitarian conditions, REACH conducted a rapid assessment of four payams in Pibor County between 20 March and 6 April.5 Seven focus group discussions (FGDs) totalling 34 participants from Pibor, Gumuruk, Verteth, and Lekuangole Payams, all located in the lowlands of Pibor County, and focused on food security shocks and cattle migration patterns were conducted. A further five key informant (KI) interviews were conducted with local authorities and NGO partners regarding broader issues and key events at the county level.
Finally, direct observations of three main towns, Pibor Town, Gumuruk Town, and Lekuangole Town, and smaller surrounding settlements were conducted.

Primary data was supplemented by the results of a pilot WASH Baseline survey, that was conducted to better understand the Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) conditions during the same time period. A total of 266 randomly sampled households in Pibor,

Gumuruk, Verteth and Lekuangole Payams were surveyed using a structured questionnaire covering a set number of topics: access to water, sanitation, hygiene, health, defecation practices, hand washing,
WASH NFI and NFI distribution, laundry practices, menstruation, solid waste disposal, Household Hunger Score (HHHS), and Mid-Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) screenings.

Key Findings

• Consecutive years of severe insecurity, disease, insufficient rains and a reduction in available natural resources have resulted in cattle loss and failed harvests and consequentially severe food insecurity since 2013.

• The HHHS collected as part of the WASH Baseline indicated 29.89% of the HHs in the four assessed payams of Pibor County had a severe hunger score.

• FGD participants and KIs reported an increased reliance on unsustainable negative and severe coping strategies, including migration as a hunger coping strategy and cattle theft, which are reducing the remaining HH assets.

• Poor WASH infrastructure and sanitation practices and a highly mobile population make the entire population highly vulnerable to an outbreak of contagious diseases.