Christian Aid has launched an emergency appeal as more than 30 million people in 20 countries are teetering on the brink of famine. Immediate humanitarian assistance is needed to help prevent escalating numbers of deaths.
The Covid health pandemic, climate crisis, and continued conflict has exacerbated hunger and food insecurity in 20 countries. Countries like South Sudan, Ethiopia, Burkina Faso, Nigeria (in the North East) and Afghanistan are particularly affected.
In South Sudan, 60% of the population are struggling to get enough food to eat, and 82% are living in extreme poverty. According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, six of the country’s counties are already categorised as being in IPC Phase 5 Catastrophe - which means people face starvation, death, destitution and debilitating levels of acute malnutrition - and 34 states are in the emergency acute food insecurity phase as people experience very high acute malnutrition and excess deaths. The most food insecure states are Jonglei, Unity, Upper Nile, Lakes, Warrap and Northern Bahr el Ghazal. 7.2 million people are now affected during this lean season, expected to be the worst on record.
James Wani, Christian Aid’s South Sudan Country Director, based in Juba, said: “Floods, drought, conflict and Covid-19 have joined forces to deliver devastation and fuel the food crisis in South Sudan - the combined result is the destruction of crops, livelihoods, houses and dwellings, while roads have become impassable, markets have stopped, supply chains have been crippled, and food prices have soared.
“I am gravely concerned about the scale of hunger we are witnessing, now escalating well beyond that formally reported in December, claiming the lives of the most vulnerable, particularly those displaced and already in dire need. People, at this time, are dependent on our good will and compassion. We need action now, but we also need the humanitarian system to act robustly, collectively, and consistently well in advance of the level of famine - once the earlier threshold of crisis is met - and aligning this with preventative action knowing the cyclical effects of climate change.”
Salome Ntububa, Christian Aid’s Head of Global Humanitarian Response, said: “The numbers we are seeing in some of the countries where we work are alarming and they are only getting worse. Covid has obviously had a massive impact on health systems, people’s ability to earn a living or grow food, and lockdowns are collapsing economies. On top of this, UK aid cuts have meant vital funding from crucial lifesaving programmes has been pulled, leaving the most vulnerable to fend for themselves in the middle of a pandemic.”
Christian Aid and its local partner organisations in South Sudan, including SPEDP (Support for Peace and Education Development Programme), have been responding in the worst-affected areas by providing emergency cash distributions to enable people to buy food, fishing equipment, seeds and tools as well as delivering much needed hygiene and sanitation awareness campaigns to help in the fight against Covid.
With funds from the appeal, Christian Aid plans to expand its response with increased food and cash distributions, and nutritional support – especially to children under five and pregnant or lactating women, as well as access to water for drinking and for agriculture and livestock, and livelihood support including setting up women’s groups with initial capital to start up businesses.
The deadliest factor which stymies efforts to halt the worsening food insecurity in, for example, Afghanistan and South Sudan, is continued violence and armed conflict. In South Sudan, Christian Aid and local partners, including the South Sudan Council of Churches, have been supporting peacebuilding for decades, building on the country’s traditions of mediation and consensus to deal with extreme violence. Despite the peace agreement in 2018, intercommunal fighting continues in parts of the country, and delays in implementation of the peace agreement are exacerbating hunger.
To give to the appeal and help communities in the worst-affected countries including South Sudan, please visit www.christianaid.org.uk/appeals/emergencies/global-hunger-emergency-appeal.
Notes to editors
Christian Aid has been working with church and non-church local partner organisations in Sudan and present day South Sudan since the 1970s, in Greater Bahr El Ghazal, Unity State and the Equatorias. Our work helps affected people in hard-to-reach and the worst-affected areas.