South Sudan Food Security Alert: August 23, 2016
Drastic food price increases further reduce household food access
Trade to and within South Sudan has been severely disrupted following renewed conflict in and around Juba, greatly reducing food supplies on most markets. As a result, staple food prices increased drastically between June and July, reaching more than 10 times the five-year average on a number of key markets (Figure 1). These price spikes come at the peak of the lean season when most households have depleted their food stocks and are dependent on market purchases to access food. Even before the July price spikes, much of South Sudan was facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity. Given these extremely high food prices, it is likely that food security is deteriorating even more than previously anticipated. Immediate humanitarian assistance and improved access for commercial trade are required to save lives.
The reemergence of conflict in July has led to insecurity along the Nimule-Juba road, a key trade route. This has further limited imports from Uganda to Juba that were already below average due to marcoeconomic issues that have reduced trader incentives. Similarly, insecurity along the Rumbek-Wau-Aweil road is significantly reducing trade flows further north (Figure 2). July 2016 WFP price monitoring observed massive price spikes in key staple foods in several major makets (Figure 1).
Current prices are the highest on record in many markets. In Juba, the nominal price of sorghum increased 144 percent from June and is now 1,257 percent above the five-year average. Similar price increases were seen in Wau of Western Bahr el Ghazal and Aweil of Northern Bahr el Ghazal, where sorghum prices are now 860 and 1,099 percent above their respective five-year averages. The consumer price index (CPI) rose 77.7 percent month-on-month over the same time period, surpassing the widely used hyperinflation threshold of 50 percent inflation over a month. Despite anecdotal reports that prices in Juba declined modestly in August, they still remain extremely high and far above June levels.
Available price data does not suggest that prices increased as sharply in Malakal, possibly due to continued imports from Sudan and the impact of food assistance. However, price data is not available for other areas of Greater Upper Nile and so the current status of staple food prices is unknown.