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South Sudan: Food Security Outlook October 2019 to May 2020

South Sudan
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Risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) will persist in 2020 despite slight improvements during harvesting period


• In October, Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes remain widespread across South Sudan despite the ongoing harvest. Based on the August 2019 South Sudan IPC analysis, an estimated 4.5 million people are likely to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity during the October 2019 to January 2020 harvesting period in the presence of planned humanitarian food assistance. However, it is likely that the number of households experiencing high levels of acute food insecurity and the severity of food insecurity in Maban, specifically, is higher than originally anticipated due to flooding that has caused displacement and losses of crops and food aid commodities at the household level, in addition to disruptions to food assistance delivery, trade flows, and market functioning.

• Food insecurity is most severe in Ulang, Maiwut, and Maban counties of Upper Nile and Duk county of Jonglei, where Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes exist due to the impact of flooding on household crop production and food access. However, the availability of the harvest and natural food sources has relatively reduced the severity of food insecurity in other counties of concern, including Yirol East and Cueibet of Lakes, Canal/Pigi of Jonglei, and Budi of Eastern Equatoria, where Crisis (IPC Phase 3) exists. Large-scale humanitarian food assistance also continues to mitigate more severe outcomes in several areas of concern, such as Leer, Mayendit, and Panyijiar counties of Unity and Rumbek North of Lakes. In September, more than 2 million people were reached with food assistance, though the reach still remains below the estimated population in need.

• Food security is expected to slightly improve from October 2019 to January 2020, driven by the availability of the harvests and seasonal food sources. Although 2019/20 national crop production is still expected to be similar to or slightly better than last year, cereal production deficits are now likely to be higher than previously anticipated in areas affected by flooding in Upper Nile, Jonglei, and Greater Bahr el Ghazal. Household food and income sources are most likely to remain inadequate to cover most households’ minimum food needs, given the depletion of productive household assets over the course of the protracted conflict.

• Although the number of conflict events is anticipated to decline as a result of implementation of the peace deal, food security is expected to deteriorate from February to May 2020. Household food gaps will likely widen due to cereal production deficits, especially in flood-affected counties, and due to seasonal declines in livestock production, fish, and wild foods. Poor macroeconomic conditions and rising food demand, driven by returnees, are expected to sustain high food prices and constrain food access. Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected, though past trends indicate humanitarian food assistance is likely to prevent Emergency (IPC Phase 4) in some countiesin 2020.

• In the event that the peace deal does not hold, and a resurgence of conflict prevents populations from moving in search of food sources or restricts humanitarian access for a prolonged period of time, food insecurity would likely worsen. Poor households who did not harvest or do not own livestock with few income sources to access food would be at risk of Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely in counties where there are already high levels of acute food insecurity. Full implementation of the September 2018 peace deal, an end to conflict by all parties, and a scale-up of assistance is needed to prevent further loss of lives and livelihoods.