South Sudan: Food Insecurity - 2015-2022


Disaster description

3.9 million people – nearly one in every three people in South Sudan – were severely food insecure and 3.6 million were considered to be ‘stressed’, in September 2015. An estimated 30,000 people were facing catastrophic food insecurity (IPC Level 5) in Unity State, leading to starvation, death, and destitution. (OCHA, 5 Jan 2016)

At the height of the lean season in July 2016, some 4.8 million people – more than one in every three people in South Sudan – were estimated to be severely food insecure. This number is expected to rise as high as five million in 2017. The food security situation is at the most compromised level since the crisis commenced in 2013 - the combination of conflict, economic crisis and lack of adequate levels of agricultural production have eroded vulnerable households ability to cope. More than one million children under age 5 are estimated to be acutely malnourished, including more than 273,600 who are severely malnourished. (OCHA, 13 Feb 2017)

As of January 2017, 3.8 million were estimated in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). As of February-April 2017, the number of people estimated in need of humanitarian assistance (IPC phase 3 and above) has increased to almost 5 million, out of which 100,000 are facing famine conditions...**Famine is declared** in Leer and Mayendit counties of Greater Unity State. Famine is likely to happen in Koch County and can be avoided in Panyijiar County only if the humanitarian assistance is delivered as planned. (IPC, 20 Feb 2017)

An estimated 6.01 million (50% of the population) people are expected to be severely food insecure in June-July 2017, compared to 5.5 million (45% of the population) people in May 2017. This is the greatest number of people ever to experience severe food insecurity (IPC Phases 3, 4 and 5) in South Sudan. Famine is no longer occurring in Leer and Mayendit counties, and further deterioration was prevented in Koch and Panyijiar counties of former Southern Unity State as a result of immediate and sustained multi-sector humanitarian assistance delivered to the affected population since March 2017...However, in June-July 2017, approximately 45,000 people will still be facing Humanitarian Catastrophe in Leer, Koch, Mayendit in former Unity State and Ayod County in former Jonglei state based on most likely assumptions of continued armed conflict, food shortages associated with seasonality, and humanitarian assistance delivery constraints...Of great concern is former Greater Jonglei State, where food security is rapidly deteriorating, predominantly in the counties of Ayod, Canal/Pigi, Duk, Nyirol and Uror, which are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity, with Ayod having an estimated 20,000 people experiencing Humanitarian Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) at least through July 2017. (IPC, 31 May 2017)

In September 2017, 6 million people were in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), which corresponded to 56% of the total population. As for October to December 2017, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance (IPC phase 3 and above) are expected to drop to 4.8 million (45% of the total population. However, this figure includes a doubled number of people classified in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) compared to the same time last year, and 25,000 people still experiencing catastrophic conditions and extreme food gaps. (IPC, 6 Nov 2017)

WFP resumed the integrated rapid response mechanism (IRRM) and currently has seven teams deployed in Bilkey, Nyandit, Kurwai, Jaibor, Chuil, Buot and Ulang, providing life-saving food and nutrition assistance to around 96,633 people, including 17,370 children under the age of five. WFP plans to deploy an additional 26 missions in the coming six weeks, targeting close to 400,000. (WFP, 8 Jan 2018)

An estimated 5.3 million people, 48 percent of the population, are currently facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity, despite the harvest and continued large-scale assistance. (FEWSNET, 22 Mar 2018)

In September 2018, 6.1 million people (59% of the total population) are facing Crisis (IPC Phase 3), Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). During the post-harvest period October-December 2018, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance (IPC Phase 3 and above) is expected to reduce to 4.4 million (43% of the total population), out of which 26,000 will be experiencing catastrophic conditions (IPC Phase 5) and extreme food gaps. By January-March 2019, 5.2 million people (49% of the total population) are estimated to continue to face acute food insecurity, with 36,000 people in catastrophic conditions (IPC Phase 5). (IPC, 5 Dec 2018)

In the current analysis period of January 2019, 6.17 million people (54% of the population) are estimated to have faced Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity or worse, out of which 1.36 million people faced Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity and 30,000 faced Catastrophe (IPC phase 5). In the projection period of February to April 2019, and in the presence of Humanitarian Food Assistance (HFA), a total of 6.45 million people (57% of the population) will face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) acute food insecurity or worse, with an estimated 45,000 people in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). (IPC, 31 Jan 2019)

Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persist throughout South Sudan, and some households are likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). According to the May IPC analysis, an estimated 6.96 million people are estimated to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes through the July/August peak of the lean season in the presence of already planned humanitarian assistance. Food security will improve somewhat in late 2019 with the harvest, though Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes will remain widespread. A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) will also persist.(FEWS NET, 27 Jun 2019)

The seasonal availability of the harvest, wild foods, fish, and livestock products is expected to sustain relatively improved food security outcomes in January. However, food security is expected to deteriorate from February to May as these sources of food decline. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Crisis! (IPC Phase 3!) will likely be widespread as many households experience widening food consumption gaps and increase the use of coping strategies. Emergency (IPC Phase 4) is expected in 16 counties in Jonglei, Upper Nile, Unity, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Eastern Equatoria states. In this period, more than 5.5 million people are anticipated to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes in the presence of humanitarian food assistance. As the 2020 lean season progresses, it is possible that some host, IDP, or refugee households would experience Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) without humanitarian food assistance. (FEWS NET, 29 Dec 2019)

In February, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes remain widespread in South Sudan. According to the January 2020 IPC acute analysis, the acutely food insecure population is expected to reach 6.01 million people in early 2020 even in the presence of humanitarian food assistance. This number includes 20,000 people who are likely in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in Akobo and Duk counties of Jonglei state (FEWS NET, 21 Mar 2020)

The scale and severity of acute food insecurity in South Sudan through January 2021 is expected to remain among the highest recorded since 2014. Urgent, sustained humanitarian food assistance beyond currently planned levels is required to save lives and protect livelihoods in the ongoing lean season and post-harvest periods. Unprecedented levels of inter-communal conflict, the macroeconomic crisis, recurrent flooding, and the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and preventive measures are leading to Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and worse outcomes. (FEWS NET, 31 Aug 2020)

The country is now facing its highest levels of food insecurity and malnutrition since independence 10 years ago. The latest food security analysis estimates that the 2021 lean season, between April and July, will be the worst ever in terms of severity, with 108,000 people in catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). A total of 7.7 million people are expected to need food assistance, including 7.24 million acutely food insecure South Sudanese in rural areas, 130,000 people in urban areas and 314,000 refugees in South Sudan. An estimated 1.4 million children and 480,000 pregnant or lactating women will be acutely malnourished and in need of treatment. The COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated people’s existing vulnerabilities and weakened an already fragile health system’s ability to treat people. (OCHA, 16 Mar 2021)

South Sudan is one of the worst hunger crises globally, with 2.5 million people in emergency or worse levels of acute food insecurity, of which 108,000 people are estimated to already face famine-like conditions. Considering also the 4.7 million people in crisis levels, this is worst food security situation since the 2011 independence. Conflict is a main driver of food insecurity, and households' purchasing power is further diminished by high inflation. (WFP, 15 Nov 2021)

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