South Sudan’s Food Security Crisis: Unveiling the Challenges and Solutions
Witnessing the Crisis Firsthand
During a recent three-day visit to South Sudan, leaders of key international organizations including the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) observed the daunting challenges facing the country’s food security. These difficulties stem mainly from ongoing conflict, climate change, and escalating costs, all of which have a profound impact on the region’s ability to feed its population.
These leaders witnessed the devastating effects of extreme weather events and poor infrastructure on the country’s food production capabilities. South Sudan, they noted, is currently grappling with some of the highest levels of hunger in the world, a situation that has been exacerbated by these challenges.
More Than Just Food Distribution
While the immediate response to such a crisis might be to distribute aid in the form of food, these leaders emphasized the need for a more sustainable solution. Empowering local communities for self-sustainability through opportunities and economic development is the way forward. Such a strategy, however, requires a stable and peaceful environment.
This viewpoint aligns with a recent joint UN report, which revealed that chronic malnourishment has affected over 120 million more people globally since 2019. Despite the severity of the situation, the FAO sees South Sudan as having huge potential as a key food producer. With the right interventions, the country could become East Africa’s breadbasket.
Investments and Policies for Long-Term Food Security
Qu Dongyu, a key leader in the FAO, emphasized the need for investments and policies targeting long-term food security, resilience, and climate adaptation. While the ongoing collaboration between the three UN agencies and the South Sudanese government has prevented famine and improved farmers’ food production and income, there is still a need for sustained and scaled-up action.
The agencies highlighted the urgency to address the ongoing hunger crisis and prevent future crises. This strategy requires substantial investment mobilization and the implementation of best practices to fight food insecurity and adapt to climate change.
A Call for Urgent Action
Alvaro Lario, President of IFAD, echoed these sentiments, calling for swift action. According to him, the implementation of these measures would also significantly improve rural employment. However, he stressed the urgency of acting now to prevent a further escalation of the crisis.
Food insecurity in South Sudan is projected to rise by seven per cent in the coming months compared to last year, according to a new United Nations report. The report cites climatic shocks, floods, droughts, conflict, economic downturn, displacement, and disrupted livelihoods as the main drivers of this worsening trend.
The Way Forward
FAO, WFP, and IFAD have renewed their call for more humanitarian and livelihoods assistance to stave off impending hunger and enhance resilience. To tackle acute hunger, these organizations emphasize the need for more food production where it is needed most. They also advocate for increased investment in innovative ways to help South Sudanese farmers adapt to climate change.
Recurring flooding, a major challenge in South Sudan, creates additional hurdles for food production. In response, FAO has been assisting vulnerable farmers to build dykes and water channels, providing training on eco-friendly best agricultural practices, and promoting increased use of flood-resistant food crops such as rice.
Despite the grim situation, there are glimmers of hope. For instance, in areas where the WFP scaled up its life-saving food and nutrition assistance, the number of people in extreme food insecurity declined significantly, showing the benefits of targeted and sustained interventions.
However, the work is far from over. With more than 1.34 million children under five years expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2022, the call to action is as urgent as ever. As these organizations continue their work, the ultimate objective is clear: to break the cycle of hunger and empower communities for a sustainable future.
(Read Also: Sudan’s Crisis: A Full-Blown Catastrophe)
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