Sudan

South Sudan Food Security Update, January 2010

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Food insecurity has improved in the western sector of Southern Sudan, particularly in Northern Bahr El Gazal, Western Bahr El Gazal, Unity, Upper Nile, and Warrap, as households rely on short?cycle harvests during October?November, and the longcycle sorghum harvest, which is just concluding.

Current food security improvements will only be sustained until the end of January, when poor households, especially those in drought?affected short?cycle sorghum?growing areas located in the Eastern Flood Plains (eastern parts of Jonglei and Upper Nile states) and Western Flood Plains (Northern Bahr El Gazal, Lakes, and northern parts of Warrap) will exhaust their harvests. This is due to poor rains and below?normal water levels, which also means that off?farm food sources (such as fish and wild foods) are less available this year. These foods typically fill a significant portion of crop shortfalls.

Unusually high levels of conflict and cattle raiding during 2009, which displaced 350?400,000 people by December, have extended into January with conflicts occurring in Jonglei, the Warrap?Unity States border, and Lakes. In Jonglei, a peace initiative planned for December among two key conflicting groups of Murle pastoralists and Nuer was postponed. Many past peace initiatives between Murle and Nuer have been unsuccessful due to failure to respect conditions set by the peace agreements. These events increase pessimism over the possibility of ending the conflicts soon given current below?normal water levels, below?normal pasture conditions, and reduced access to fish. These conditions increase the potential for exacerbated conflicts during this year's dry season (January – April).

Increased conflict prompted the Government of Southern Sudan to embark on disarmament of civilians beginning in December 2009. Past disarmament initiatives have not been very successful due to partial coverage. Latest updates indicate that close to 3,000 people have been displaced from Akot Town in Lakes State after fighting with security forces over death of a civilian during disarmament.