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Humanitarian Situation Monitoring, Jonglei State, South Sudan: April - September 2020

South Sudan
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The humanitarian situation across Jonglei State continued to deteriorate between March and September 2020. A range of compounding natural, man-made, and macroeconomic shocks have resulted in mass displacement and have limited access to crops, livestock, and markets. These shocks have simultaneously eroded the capacity of food insecure households to employ coping strategies, exacerbating already widespread, severe, and multisectoral vulnerabilities. The 2020 harvest is unlikely to result in any substantial or long-term improvement in the food security situation and, moving forward, humanitarian food assistance will be essential to offset a continued and widespread deterioration.
To inform humanitarian actors working outside formal settlement sites, REACH has conducted assessments of hard-to-reach areas in South Sudan since December 2015. Data is collected on a monthly basis through interviews with key informants (KIs) with knowledge of a settlement and triangulated with focus group discussions (FGDs). This Situation Overview analyses changes in observed humanitarian needs in Jonglei State between April and September 2020.


The proportion of assessed settlements where KIs reported the presence of IDPs remained high between March (60%) and September (48%). Reflective of continued sub-national violence, insecurity remained the main reported push factor for IDPs in assessed settlements across Jonglei State between March and September (37% of assessed settlements in September). Atypical seasonal flooding, beginning in June, also resulted in widespread displacement. The counties flanking the River Nile (Fangak, Ayod, Duk, Twic East, and Bor South) were affected most severely, particularly towards the end of the reporting period, resulting in mass population movement to the Jonglei Ridge, Bor Town, Mangalla (Central Equatoria State), and Mingkaman (Lakes State).

Food Security and Livelihoods (FSL):

The FSL situation across Jonglei State remained extremely poor throughout the reporting period, with adequate access to food being reported in just 54% of assessed settlements in September (49% in March). Given the extent to which compounding shocks have limited access to traditional livelihoods, income generating activities, coping strategies, and markets, a deeper deterioration of the FSL situation has likely been offset, to some extent, by humanitarian food assistance (HFA). Moving forward, the 2020 harvest season is unlikely to substantially improve access to food and sustained and widespread access to HFA will likely be essential to preventing very severe levels of acute food insecurity until the next harvest.

Health and Nutrition:

High reported levels of food insecurity combined with high disease prevalence, limited access to clean water and functional healthcare services, and low dietary diversity and quality have negatively affected the nutritional status of populations across Jonglei State. This is evidenced by SMART surveys conducted in Duk3 and Ayod4 counties in April, which found Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rates of 22% and 31% respectively.
Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene (WASH): Reported latrine usage remained low but stable throughout the reporting period. Despite a reported widespread awareness of COVID-19 protection and prevention measures, most people were reportedly washing their hands with soap in just 25% of assessed settlements, likely a consequence of access barriers to clean water.


The protection situation varied across Jonglei State throughout the reporting period, before stabilising with most people reportedly feeling safe most of the time in September (90% of assessed settlements), likely due to seasonal flooding that limited movement and reduced the risk of attacks, ambushes and abductions. Reporting of early marriage as the main protection concern for girls in September was very high in Duk (79% of assessed settlements), Twic East (43%), and Bor South (40%) counties, possibly a consequence of the recent FSL shocks which have caused widespread livelihood collapse and increased the need to access livestock through dowry.


In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of South Sudan closed all schools and universities on the 20th March. Across Jonglei State, girls typically have lower access to education than boys and pre-existing gender-based vulnerabilities are likely to be further exacerbated by the widespread deterioration in the food security situation. A traditional over-reliance on women and girls to provide food for the household may further limit the ability of girls to return to school, despite the phased reopening of education facilities from the 5th October.

Shelter/ Non Food Items (NFI):

Access to reliable shelter seemingly varied by population group: IDPs were reported to live in less solid structures, such as rakoobas or improvised shelters in 73% of assessed settlements (35% in March), while host communities reportedly mainly used solid structures for shelter (87%). A reported deterioration in IDP shelter conditions could be a consequence of intercommunal violence and flooding, which have resulted in large-scale population movement and widespread shelter destruction.