How Ukraine war crashed South Sudan’s economic recovery
World Bank says in a report that when Russia invaded Ukraine, the global supply chains of energy products and cereals were thrown into jeopardy.
The ongoing Russo -Ukrainian war fought miles away has obstructed South Sudan’s recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic and held at ransom millions of vulnerable people living on a shoestring budget.
According to a report released by the World Bank yesterday, the Ukraine war has made it impossible to recover from the devastating COVID-19 shocks and affected the global economy by causing food insecurity, eating into budget revenue and interfering with the country’s trade balance and growth.
A report titled “Directions for Reform: A Country’s Economic Memorandum Recovery and Resilience in South Sudan’, captures the country’s economy since independence up to 2022, when it battles with post-pandemic effects.
The report by the global lender states that when Russia invaded Ukraine, the global supply chains of energy products and cereals were thrown into jeopardy, hence, this affected even South Sudan.
‘‘Ukraine and Russia are major exporters of agricultural, energy, and mineral commodities, and the initial global impact of the war is primarily through higher prices of these commodities. In South Sudan, higher oil prices have improved budget revenues and strengthened its external position, but stronger mechanisms will be required in order to improve accountability and reduce the misuse of oil revenues,’’ it stated in part.
‘‘These rising food prices also reflect the decline in domestic cereal production due to significant climate and conflict events in 2021; this has led to a 4 per cent reduction in cereal production, resulting in a 16 per cent increase in the domestic cereal deficit to 540,000 MT in 2022.”
The findings agree with what the minister of humanitarian affairs and disaster management, Peter Mayen Majongdit, said at a press conference with FAO and WFP earlier this year that millions of South Sudanese were predisposed to hunger, thanks to the war in Ukraine.
Mayen said. “An estimated 8.9 million people are food insecure; only a fraction of the country can afford their daily bread.”
“Also, 4.6 million children need bread on the table. 1.7 displaced persons need shelter on their heads,’’ he added.
Speaking at the same press conference, the WFP head of research, William Kai-Kai, lamented the sporadic increase in prices of goods that he said had condemned consumers to suffering.
“The cost of cooking oil increased by almost 50 per cent and the trends are similar across all markets. Similarly, the price of wheat flour increased by almost 120 per cent in Kapoeta and 40 percent in Wau,’’ he said.
“We are talking, about a general increase in prices of commodities and therefore, impacting the food security situation of households.’’
The lender expresses even more fears in the report that more than 7 million people could face hunger in South Sudan, by the mere fact that they cannot afford basic commodities.
“With more than 60 percent of the population (7.7 million) facing severe acute food insecurity in 2022, rising food prices will exacerbate an already dire food insecurity situation.’’
The report comes at a time when the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday that it had been forced to slash aid to the 1.7 million deserving South Sudanese beneficiaries due to a cash crisis.
“We are extremely concerned about the impact of the funding cuts on children, women, and men who will not have enough to eat during the lean season.” These families have completely exhausted their coping strategies. They need immediate humanitarian assistance to put food on the table in the short term and to rebuild their livelihoods and resilience to cope with future shocks,” said Adeyinka Badejo, Acting Country Director of the World Food Programme in South Sudan.