Food Crisis Looms In South Sudan As Humanitarian funding Collapse
The UN agency last month warned that South Sudan faces unprecedented levels of food insecurity, with 2.8 million people, nearly 25 per cent of the population, is in urgent need of aid, at least 40,000 of them on the brink of catastrophe, at a time when the country is traditionally most food secure.
Children In Torit during a past function at the Torit Freedom Square [Photo| Peter Lokale]
By Agoth Abraham/ Aweil and Peter Lokale/Torit
16 March 2016 [Gurtong]– Access to food continues to deteriorate in most States owing to factors such as price inflation and market disruptions that are tied to the conflict.
Nevertheless, last week, the United Nation Children Fund (UNICEF) announced that the humanitarian funding for the world’s youngest country has collapsed, putting the lives of tens of thousands of children at risk.
In Northern Bahr el-Ghazal which has now been dived into Aweil, Aweil East and Lol States, residents are fleeing to neighbouring Sudan in search of food.
In Eastern Equatoria State, residents fear the worst may happen if the situation continues to deteriorate with children dropping out of school as they cannot study on empty stomachs.
Those in Northern Bahr el-Ghazal are moving towards Eastern, Southern Kordofan and Darfur to look for food.
Though they are restricted to cross the borders when moving in big numbers, some of them still make it across the border somehow.
Awan Chan Wol, 33 years, is a mother of five residing in Aweil North County. She attempted to cross the border but unfortunately was prevented from doing so by security forces.
“As there was nothing left completely in my house and I could see the economic situation is worsening, I had to think of joining these people who usually go to the North [Sudan] during such crises because there was no one person I could depend on.” Wol explained.
“When I reached the border with my children and other neighbours in a group, we were stopped and asked why we wanted to leave for Sudan but we clearly revealed that there was no food in our houses and we cannot afford the market prices as things keep increasing daily.” She added.
Currently a gallon of sorghum cost 90 SSP. Sorghum and maize flour are the daily foods eaten by most South Sudanese families. Sometimes, 1 gallon which is approximately 3.5kg is not enough for a household with many family members.
The Governor of Aweil State Ronald Ruay Deng while addressing a public gathering last week in Aweil confirmed the threat of hunger in the State and said that more efforts is needed to be put into agriculture to stop the looming hunger.
In Eastern Equatoria many residents say that the government has put all its efforts in implementing the signed peace agreement and putting little concentration on agriculture in the country.
Mr. Awas Dominic a resident of Torit say that school children may soon begin dropping out of school as the economic situation continues to worsen.
He mentioned challenges raising money for registration fees, buying text books and exercise books which are requirements needed by schools. On top of that school kids cannot be able to concentrate in class while hungry.
He strongly appealed to the government and its partners to show commitment towards development and security to realise nation-building.
“If the two warring parties; the government and the SPLM- In Opposition, really decide to say enough is enough, and lay down their arms or guns and start working jointly for peace, automatically, development initiatives will take place thus space for massive food production across the country shall be realised. To me, there is much to be done by our current leaders in the government. They have to rethink more than ever to bring back the original peace to South Sudan. It is a matter of commitment with nationalism and patriotism. With peace, everything in South Sudan will be possible. Food production is possible and that is what we all need for now. The current slow implementation of South Sudan’s peace agreement contributes to the on-going predicament,” expressed Dominic.
On Tuesday, this week, at Torit State Hospital the Mayor of Torit, Eddy William Ponsion paid a visit to a woman who was malnourished and had just delivered but later passed away.
Due to lack of nutrients or essential vitamins, caused by the continuing less food supplies, that children require for growth and proper development, children faced with hunger may also fall ill more often than other children, leave alone concentration on studies or books, foresees one of South Sudanese Independent Nutritional Analyst’s Miss Grace Tabo.
She anticipates, “Because of the food shortage in the region, hunger may always keep the children out of class, making it difficult for them to comfortably learn.”
FAO, the UN Children’s Fund and the UN World Food Programme stressed that the current numbers of those facing hunger are particularly worrisome because they show an increase in hunger during the post-harvest period, when the country is traditionally has most food.
Photo Credits – Women battling to fetch drinking water in rum-wuud [Abraham Agoth]