Ukraine war to blame for food insecurity in South Sudan – Gov’t says

Ukraine war to blame for food insecurity in South Sudan – Gov’t says
South Sudanese queuing for relief food. [Photo: Courtesy]

The government has said about 8.9 million people in South Sudan are facing food insecurity as a result of intercommunal conflicts and the ongoing war in Ukraine.

Speaking at a joint press conference with the FAO and WFP on Thursday, the minister of humanitarian affairs and disaster management, Peter Mayen Majongdit, said the country is on the brink of serious hunger.

 “An estimated 8.9 million people are food insecure; only a fraction of the country can afford their daily bread,” Mr. Mayen said.

“Also, 4.6 million children need bread on the table. 1.7 displaced persons need shelter on their heads, “he explained

Mr. Mayen admitted that South Sudan’s humanitarian situation is the worst ever in the region and globally, adding the situation has never been given a priority since global attention has now shifted to the war in Ukraine.

He noted that there are no proper mitigation mechanisms to ease the humanitarian situation in the country.

The minister said the inter-communal conflicts must stop to allow people to go back to their lands and start food cultivation.

“Right now is the time to cease hostilities so that communities can settle during the rain season and be supported to embark on agriculture so that they can have enough food to eat,” he said.

Meanwhile, the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (UNFAO) country representative, Alemu Demeke, said this year’s food production has declined by 5 per cent compared to the last year.

He called for a need to create food reserves to stabilise the market.

“Strategic food reserves are needed to stabilise the market prices. This requires joint action, multi-sector, multi-institution and work with partners to ease the pressure on vulnerable communities,” Alemu stated.

However, the minister of humanitarian affairs assured the citizens that the government and partners have agreed to work out a comprehensive strategy to address future global food insecurity.

“A proper strategy and action plan are laid out to address the future food insecurity because each country is planning to address the food insecurity because sooner than later, the world will be food insecure.”

The World Food Progamme which has been monitoring food prices of basic commodities across different markets in the country, confirmed a significant increase in food prices in the market.

Speaking at the same press conference, the WFP head of research, William Kai-Kai, said there has been a significant increase in the prices of commodities both locally produced and imported.

He said most households are unable to afford basic food to meet their basic food and nutrition requirements.

“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.”

“We are talking, about a general increase in prices of commodities and therefore, impacting the food security situation of households,” William said.

According to WFP, the cost of transport has increased by more than double digits and the cost of supporting those in need has increased significantly.

Cash-based transfer support has equally been affected, according to WFP due to a rise in needs.

 “Most of the agencies are facing funding constraints because of the other equally important services,” he said.