South Sudan

South Sudan: Localized Famine and Unprecedented Levels of Acute Malnutrition in Greater Unity - IPC Alert, Issue 6, 20 February 2017


Based on the IPC South Sudan Technical Working Group results:*


  • As of January 2017, 3.8 million were estimated in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).

  • As of February-April 2017, the number of people estimated in need of humanitarian assistance (IPC phase 3 and above) has increased to almost 5 million, out of which 100,000 are facing famine conditions.


  • The highest proportions of populations in Crisis, Emergency and Catastrophe are observed in Northern Bahr el Ghazal (61%) and Unity (61%) States.

  • People facing famine or risk of famine are located in Leer, Mayendit, Koch and Panyijar counties of Unity State.


The most affected populations are Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs) who are dispersed and the host communities affected by the on-going conflict.


Conflict and insecurity are the main drivers of acute food insecurity compounded by the coming lean season and resulting in devastating effects on livelihoods and the nutrition situation. In conflict areas, humanitarian assistance has become people’s main source of food and it is now insufficient to meet all their needs, mainly due to severe humanitarian access restrictions. Acute malnutrition is a major public health emergency in the country. Evidence shows that, in the Southern part of Unity State, one in three children is acutely malnourished. This represents an unprecedented situation requiring immediate action.


Famine is declared in Leer and Mayendit counties of Greater Unity State. Famine is likely to happen in Koch County and can be avoided in Panyijiar County only if the humanitarian assistance is delivered as planned.

The South Sudan IPC Technical Working Group has reached these conclusions in consideration of all currently available data, including planned humanitarian response and based on the professional judgment of the IPC Emergency Review Committee (ERC) but not in full accordance with the minimal evidence requirements of the IPC standard protocols.


  • Secure humanitarian access and ensure respect of humanitarian space in Leer, Mayendit, Koch and Panyijar counties, as further escalation of famine can only be prevented if humanitarian assistance is scaled up and reaches the intended beneficiaries;

  • Urgent action is also required for the other severely food insecure areas of the country to protect livelihoods, reduce food consumption gaps and reduce acute malnutrition.

  • Vigilance is needed for monitoring the evolving conflict as well as economic, political and seasonal situation and updating the IPC analysis in real time.