After nearly four years of civil conflict, South Sudan remains one of the most food-insecure countries in the world. By the end of the 2017 lean season in September—the period of the year when food is most scarce— approximately 56 percent of the country’s population was facing life threatening hunger and in need of humanitarian assistance, making 2017 the most food-insecure year in South Sudan’s history.
Despite slight improvements in food availability due to seasonal harvests from October to December, the 2018 lean seasons began in January—three months earlier than usual—according to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC). Food security is expected to deteriorate through March, with an estimated 5.1 million people—nearly half of the population— facing Crisis (IPC 3) or worse levels of acute food insecurity.*
In particular, ongoing conflict has severely affected areas of Western Bahr El Ghazal State, resulting in approximately 20,000 people experiencing Humanitarian Catastrophe levels of acute food insecurity—or famine at the household level—meaning that starvation, destitution and death are evident
As of January 2017, approximately 2.4 million refugees have fled South Sudan for neighboring countries and another 1.9 million South Sudanese remain internally displaced. Widespread insecurity continues to displace communities, disrupt livelihood activities, exacerbate food insecurity and impede humanitarian access to vulnerable populations.
A sustained and unimpeded humanitarian response is critical to saving lives and preventing a deterioration to Famine (IPC 5) levels of acute food insecurity. Since the start of the conflict, the USAID’s Office of Food for Peace (FFP) and its partners— including the UN World Food Program (WFP) and the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF)—have responded to the needs of South Sudan’s most vulnerable and conflict-affected populations through emergency food and nutrition interventions. In FY 2017, FFP-supported programs provided life-saving food assistance to 1.1 million people per month, on average.
FFP also partners with Catholic Relief Services to provide families in Jonglei State with emergency food assistance, expand access to safe drinking water, and implement livelihoods interventions, including providing agricultural training for farming households.