Food gap widens in South Sudan, say UN agencies

2016 cereal deficit about 53 per cent higher than last year; food prices rise as markets collapse

By DTE Staff
Published: Tuesday 05 April 2016

Civil unrest and unfavourable rainfall have affected crop production in South Sudan, contributing to a cereal deficit of 381,000 tonnes, which is 53 per cent greater than in 2015. It is aggravating the already severe food shortage faced by the country, two UN agencies warned on Tuesday.

Cereal prices have shot up nearly five-fold since early last year, making it difficult for people to get enough food, according to a new joint Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The crisis in South Sudan is marked by alarming levels of hunger. Some 5.8 million people are unsure where their next meal will come from while the rate of food insecurity has now reached 12 per cent, double the rate of one year ago.

“South Sudan is facing a deadly blend of conflict, economic hardship and poor rains. Together, they are worsening a hunger gap that we fear will force more people to go hungry and increase malnutrition,” said WFP Country Director Joyce Luma.

“Food insecurity has spread to areas previously considered relatively stable, highlighting the cumulative impact of conflict, economic downturn and climactic shocks,” said Serge Tissot, FAO representative in South Sudan.

Local production failure, markets hit by crisis

South Sudan’s cereal shortfall is mainly the result of unfavourable rains in parts of the Bahr el-Ghazal and Equatoria states and disruptions to cropping activities caused by the worsening insecurity.

Links between cereal-producing areas and markets have become extremely difficult due to heightened insecurity, roadblocks and exorbitant ad hoc taxes levied on commercial transporters along major trade routes.

Bridging the food gap

The report makes a series of recommendations for immediate action to address hunger, strengthen domestic food production and reduce the food gap in 2016 and into next year.

There is an immediate need to improve security across the country. Improving people’s access to micronutrient-and protein-rich food can be achieved through the distribution of fishing kits and use of nutrition vouchers to be traded for locally-sourced vegetables, fish and milk.

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