FEWS Southern Sudan Food Security Watch 27 Apr 2007 - Food security conditions deteriorate

Population returns, conflict and delayed rains threaten food security

Household food stocks are dwindling as the May to August hunger season begins in southern Sudan. Food security conditions are expected to deteriorate as the season progresses until September, particularly for poor and recently resettled households who face structural food deficits. These deficits are exacerbated in some areas by civil insecurity, cattle raiding and increased competition for wild food and income-generating opportunities due to significant population returns.

In the Western Flood Plains livelihoods zone (Figure 1), continued assisted and spontaneous population returns from northern Sudan into Northern Bahr El Ghazal State and parts of Warab State (Twic and Gogrial counties) will increase competition for scarce resources during the May to August hunger season.

Figure 1. Areas of concern in southern Sudan.

Source: FEWS NET

In the Eastern Flood Plains livelihoods zone, particularly in Bor, Diror, Pulchol, Wuror and Nyirol counties (Jonglei State), the Government of South Sudan’s (GoSS) 2006 disarmament process has increased the population’s vulnerability to cattle raids from the neighboring Murle tribe of Pibor County, who are still armed. A series of cattle raids in March left 17 people dead and 800 cattle looted. Similar raids extended into Jor District in Ethiopia in April, leaving 26 people dead, 5,000 people displaced and many cattle stolen. Cattle raids have disrupted the movement of people and livestock to more abundant fishing, grazing and water areas, which are critical during the January to April dry season. If raids in Ethiopia continue, they could force affected households to seek support from relatives in eastern parts of Jonglei State, who are already experiencing food insecurity.

Ongoing negotiations between the Lou and Jikany sub-tribes over the relocation of Lou households from areas originally owned by the Jikany poses an additional food security threat in Diror, Pulchol, Wuror, Nyirol and Akobo counties. A series of historical conflicts between these sub-tribes has resulted in the displacement of the Jikany from areas now occupied by the Lou. Given the historical hostilities between the two sub-tribes, unsuccessful negotiations would likely lead to renewed conflict, which would reduce or cut off access to dry-season fishing, grazing, water sources and markets and cause further displacement.

The delayed onset of the start of the first cropping season (April to July) by up to one month in the Hills and Mountains livelihood zone (Bahr El Jabal State and parts of Eastern Equatoria State) is an emerging concern. As these areas typically experience dry spells in June or July, the delayed rains increase the likelihood that the dry spell will affect crops before they are fully established. Such an event would significantly reduce crop yields, resulting in food shortages during the second cropping season (September to December).