Famine looms in South Sudan – report

Famine looms in South Sudan – report
Northern Bahr el Ghazal residents queue during a food distribution exercise jointly carried out by Concern Worldwide and World Food Programme in February 2017 (photo credit: Concern Worldwide)

South Sudan has been listed among the 43 countries facing imminent risk of extreme famine if no funding is availed for intervention.

According to the statement of the Global Food Security, Health, Nutrition, and Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) Clusters issued this month, about 41 million people across 43 countries including South Sudan, are at imminent risk of famine.

There are ‘‘584,000 people facing famine-like conditions in Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan, and Yemen, with Nigeria and Burkina Faso also of extreme concern’’.

The report said just one more shock could push them over the edge adding “the global hunger crisis is clearly reaching a tipping point, and the window to avert famine and devastatingly high levels of acute hunger in multiple countries is closing fast’’.

“Multiple factors are driving today’s levels of severe hunger and malnutrition, primarily protracted armed conflicts, climate change, and economic shocks exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the statement further read.

It noted that “water scarcity and extreme weather such as droughts and floods wreak havoc on vulnerable lives and livelihoods, while those caught in conflict often cannot access food, water or medicine.’’

The report says in such conditions, children under five years of age and pregnant and lactating women are at particularly high risk, especially those already in poor health.

However, it highlighted the urgent action and increased investments needed to prevent widespread malnutrition, starvation, and death.

“We know what happens when the international community responds too late: waiting until famine has been declared to scale up the response imperils millions already facing a crisis,” the statement notes.

The statement said that the 28 million people globally in Emergency food insecurity (IPC 4) are already on the cusp of catastrophe.

“Without adequate food, health and nutrition services, safe water and sanitation, the risk of famine can skyrocket; the developmental, economic, social and health repercussions can be equally devastating and long-lasting,” it added.

However, the four Clusters commit to leading efforts to improve and expand the use of early warning data and to coordinate timely, multi-sectoral efforts to respond to the threat of famine.

“We are working to implement a global coordination platform on countries facing famine or the risk of famine, including Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, and Burkina Faso.”

It called on all national governments and de-facto authorities to “invest in a strategic multi-sectoral agenda towards strengthening famine early warning and early action systems and supporting the most vulnerable to build their resilience through livelihoods initiatives.

“Commit to a people-centered approach and better access to essential services and social protection for those most in need of humanitarian interventions’’.