On 20 February, famine was officially declared in parts of Unity state.
This is the first time in six years that a famine has been declared anywhere in the world. Approximately 100,000 people are currently facing starvation, with an additional one million close to famine.
A recent assessment mission by UNICEF, WFP and Oxfam to Kapoeta,
Eastern Equatoria found that drought has significantly affected water access and food security. A multilateral response is planned and underway.
Following a scale-up of cholera response activities, the number of new cases reported has declined significantly. Efforts continue to halt the current outbreak, which has been ongoing since June 2016.
Situation Overview & Humanitarian Needs
On 20 February, South Sudan became the first country in six years to officially declare famine. The declaration was made when a new Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) report was officially endorsed and released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS). According to the report, some counties in Unity state are classified as currently being in famine or having a high likelihood/risk of famine. From February to July 2017, Leer and Mayendit counties are considered to be experiencing famine, and famine is also likely to occur in Koch County. In Panyijar County it is projected that famine will likely be avoided with appropriate humanitarian assistance. Approximately 100,000 people currently face starvation, while one million are on the edge of famine. For the period from February to April 2017, the beginning of the lean season, it is estimated that some 4.9 million people (approximately 42 per cent of population) are severely food insecure (IPC Phases 3, 4 and 5). This is projected to increase to 5.5 million people (47 per cent of the population) at the height of the 2017 lean season in May – July 2017. President Kiir has promised unrestricted humanitarian access to the areas affected by famine, many of which are currently inaccessible.
The security situation continues to deteriorate in certain areas of Unity, Upper Nile, Jonglei and Greater Equatoria, causing affected populations to move to neighboring areas within and outside the country. Internally displaced people (IDPs) from Kajo-Keji and Yei in Central Equatoria have moved into Uganda, where a new refugee camp has been established by UNHCR to accommodate the significant influx of South Sudanese refugees. Heavy fighting has taken place in Upper Nile and Jonglei, and on 20 February more than 30 humanitarian workers were relocated from Yuai following clashes between the Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and the SPLA – in Opposition (SPLA-iO).
Water tables in many parts of country remain low as the dry season continues. The situation is exacerbated by a fuel shortage in the country, which is impacting the operation of urban water systems and water pumping and treatment plants. Water availability in both Juba and Wau town have been affected. The harsh dry season currently affecting the country is having a negative impact on the already extremely critical food security situation. Greater Kapoeta in Eastern Equatoria, bordering Kenya and Ethiopia, is believed to be the main area in the country affected by the pro-longed dry spell.
The cholera outbreak once again appears to be declining. Though active transmission is still ongoing in four different states, there has been a decline in the number of new cases reported; 57 cases were reported between 13 and 19 February, while only 18 new cases were reported between 20 and 26 February. The current outbreak has lasted longer than those of 2014 and 2015, but the case fatality rate for the 2016/2017 outbreak is significantly lower, indicating that awareness and response activities have been successful. The outbreak has concentrated along the river Nile, where populations consume contaminated water directly from the river. Cumulatively, 5,085 cholera cases including 105 deaths (case fatality rate of 2.06 per cent) have been reported since the outbreak began on 18 June 2016.
Meanwhile, a total of 28 measles cases have been reported in the past two weeks; 25 cases in the Wau area, one case in Yambio, one case in the Bor PoC site, and one case in Aweil. This brings the total number of cases reported in 2017 to 288, though there have not been any reported deaths.