Based on data collected during the post-harvest period in Round 25 of the Food Security and Nutrition Monitoring System, the January 2020 IPC estimates that 5.29 million people, representing 45 percent of the national population, are currently experiencing Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes in the presence of humanitarian food assistance. This includes 40,000 people in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in Akobo, Duk, and Ayod counties of Jonglei state and 15 counties in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). The total food insecure population in January 2020 has declined by 14 percent compared to January 2019, driven by reductions in the food insecure population in Western and Eastern Equatoria, Western Bahr el Ghazal, and Unity states and facilitated by a decline in conflict events, an increase in net cereal production, and a seasonal increase in natural food sources after an above-average rainy season.
Despite relative improvement in food security on the national level during the post-harvest period, the severity of food insecurity is elevated in areas where flooding and periodic conflict caused significant crop and livestock losses in 2019. In addition, the ongoing macroeconomic crisis and national cereal deficit continue to drive high food prices. As a result, the food insecure population is expected to rise from February to July 2020, peaking at 6.48 million people or 55 percent of the national population during the lean season even in the presence of food assistance. Jonglei state, Upper Nile state, and parts of Lakes and Northern Bahr el Ghazal states are areas of highest concern; in addition, Unity and Eastern Equatoria remain of high concern despite a decline in the proportion of the population in need relative to 2019. Urgent scale up of humanitarian food assistance is needed to save lives and protect livelihoods in the affected areas.
Progress has been made on the conditions for the formation of the Revitalized Government of National Unity in anticipation of the February 22nd deadline. Officials announced a resolution on the number of states and boundaries as well as a declaration of the complete cessation of hostilities between the government and non-signatories to the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in South Sudan. Overall, the related improvement in security conditions has facilitated greater household access and engagement in livelihoods activities, boosted trade flows from Sudan and Uganda, and improved market functioning relative to September 2018. In addition, UNHCR reported in December that a total of 99,816 refugees have returned to South Sudan– an eight percent increase in total spontaneous refugee returns compared to November.
According to OCHA/IOM, 1.47 million and 2.24 million people remain internally and externally displaced, respectively. Despite broad improvements in security, localized inter-communal conflicts and cattle raiding have persisted in Cueibet and Yirol East of Lakes and Duk and Pibor of Jonglei, resulting in loss of lives and livestock and disruption to trade flows and delivery of food assistance. Inter-communal conflict and violence between the Misseriye and Dinka Ngok communities of Abyei in late January also led to loss of lives, destruction of homes, and disruptions to trade flows.
Based on FEWS NET’s monitoring and preliminary results of the Crop and Food Security Assessment Mission (CFSAM), net national cereal production in the 2019/20 season is above 2018/19 and near the five-year average. This is attributed to improved security that led to an increase in area planted and high crop yields in areas not directly affected by the flooding, particularly in the Greater Equatoria region and parts of Lakes and Western Bahr el Ghazal states. However, floods led to a decline in crop production compared to 2018 in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Upper Nile, and Jonglei. Based on CFSAM data, 2019/20 production is estimated to cover 63 percent of 2020 national cereal needs. Although this represents a 6 percent increase in the cereal balance compared to 2018, a large cereal deficit persists on the national level.
Pasture and water availability for livestock is currently above normal across most of the country and livestock body conditions are good, while fish availability and access to wild foods such as Lalop fruits continue to increase as flood waters recede. However, households in flood-affected areas have reported livestock and pasture losses. In these areas, milk production has somewhat declined due to livestock deaths and loss of forage. This was corroborated by a rapid assessment conducted by FEWS NET in mid-January in Maban, which indicated that the availability of livestock products at the household level are lower than normal. Additionally, households in other flood-affected counties are reporting livestock deaths due to diseases, including PPR, CCBPP, and CCPP, and pasture shortages.
In flood-affected areas, trade flows, market functioning, and delivery of food assistance has gradually improved as flood waters recede. However, some roads remain impassable and continue to limit trade flows and pre-positioning of humanitarian supplies in Leer and Mayendit of Unity, Maban of Upper Nile, and Ayod, Duk, Twic East, and Pibor of Jonglei. A FEWS NET rapid assessment conducted in mid-January in Maban found that trade routes have re-opened, facilitating supply flows from Sudan. As a direct result, the retail price of a malwa (3.5 kg) of sorghum in Bunj market of Maban declined 73 percent from 1500 SSP in December to 400 SSP in January. Key informant information indicates that the road from Bor South to Duk through Panyagor of Twic East in Jonglei is fully opened as flood waters have dried up, facilitating movement of heavy trucks along this route and improving supply flows.
Although flood-affected areas are currently witnessing a relative decline in food prices compared to the peak of the floods, staple food prices remain well above the five-year average across the country due to inflation and exchange rate fluctuations, the national cereal deficit, high transportation costs, and informal taxes. Household purchasing power remains constrained overall. In key reference markets such as Juba and Rumbek Central, the retail price of white sorghum is 150 percent higher than last year, and 226-268 percent above five-year average. In Wau and Aweil, the retail price of sorghum is similarly 210-276 percent above five-year average, but 90-98 percent lower than last year due to relative improvements in trade flows from Sudan and Uganda and the availability of local produce.
1.16 million people were reached in December with general food distribution and food for assets programs. This represents an 11 percent increase from the number of beneficiaries reached with assistance in November. Food assistance likely continues to mitigate more extreme outcomes in parts of Unity and Northern Bahr el Ghazal. In addition to monthly food distribution, 826,000 flood-affected people had received food assistance as of January 27th under the flood response plan, including in Pibor town; Lankien of Nyirol; Yomding of Ulang; Mankien of Mayom; Pieri, Motot and Pathai of Uror; and Padiet of Duk. Further, assistance is planned to be delivered to an estimated 10,500 households in various locations in Pibor, Nyirol, Akobo West, Duk, Pochalla and Longochuk. In Maiwut, relative calm has been restored, allowing the return of humanitarians and resumption of assistance delivery, though the reach of assistance remains below the level of need.