Years of conflict, violence, displacement and compromised livelihoods have led to more than 8,9 million South Sudanese – about two thirds of the population – being dependent on humanitarian aid and protection in 2022, while an estimated 8,4 million will likely experience severe food insecurity this year.
South Sudan has a long history of conflict and underdevelopment that predates its independence in 2011, but since December 2013, an estimated 400,000 lives have been lost through violence, disease and food insecurity. About 4.3 million South Sudanese have been forced to leave their homes, with 2.3 million having fled the country, while over 2 million people are internally displaced. The many causes of displacement make for complex dynamics that frequently overlap. Some of the main drivers are the civil war that began in 2013, inter-communal violence and recurrent natural hazards such as floods and drought. These factors, combined with the presence and use of explosive devices, unresolved housing, land, and property issues and lack of basic services in areas of origin continue to discourage refugees from returning to South Sudan.
The fighting between the two main political factions and unpredictable surges of violence – often between or within communities - have forced people to flee their homes, many of them multiple times, disrupting household food security and individuals’ ability to engage in livelihoods activities. More recent events, including the signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) in September 2018 and the formation of a fragile Transitional Government of National Unity in March 2020 have placed the country on a critical path of transition moving from humanitarian support to future early recovery efforts, with therefore an opportunity to rebuild and meet longer-term development goals. However, 2021 did see a deterioration of the situation in the country, due to continued political instability and localized violence, the social and economic impact of COVID, as well as catastrophic flooding patterns, which have changed over recent years, with water from previous floods not yet receded before the arrival of new rain seasons.
Food insecurity in 2022
South Sudan has extremely good soil and a climate that should be well-suited to agriculture. Over 90% of the population depends on the land and other natural resources as their source of income. Conflict, however, has made it difficult to make use of this potential. Acts of war have destroyed crops and people have been driven to flight without the possibility of cultivating the land or securing future harvests, while lack of clear land ownership and lenient administrative policies have led to the takeover of increasingly large areas by warlords, corrupt local authorities, various ethnic groups and large international investors at the expense of the local population. Over 80% of the population now lives below the poverty threshold.
Extreme levels of food insecurity and malnutrition are affecting two-thirds of the country’s population, making South Sudan one of the worst food insecurity emergencies in the world at present. An estimated 8.3 million people are expected to experience severe food insecurity at the peak of the 2022 lean season (May-July), a 7 per cent increase from the 7.7 million people living in severe food insecurity in 2021. This is driven by multiple shocks, including climatic (floods, dry spells, and droughts), insecurity (caused by sub-national and localized violence), population displacements, persistent annual cereal deficits, diseases and pests, the local implications of the global economic crisis and war in Ukraine, limited access to basic services, and the cumulative effects of prolonged years of asset depletion that continue to erode households’ coping capacities, and the loss of livelihoods. Access constraints and humanitarian assistance that is lower than required in the face of increasing needs will likely result in an increase of acute food insecurity during the projection periods, especially during the lean season.
To put it simply, 2 of 3 South Sudanese households are unable to access sufficient food on a daily basis and an estimated 1,35 million children are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2022.
NPA’s response to the food insecurity
In South Sudan, Norwegian People’s Aid country programme works with civil society in addressing these massive challenges, with a particular focus on responding to the critical food insecurity. NPA has organized its work into 3 programmes, all of which contribute to improving food security, both locally where NPA is present, and nationally, through advocacy and support to national structures. Through its Emergency Response programme, NPA aims to provide immediate access to food for those populations at greatest risk in the current food crisis; through its Rural Development programme, NPA supports household livelihoods and improved agricultural practices and market capacities; finally, with its Civil Society programme, NPA supports civil society actors in ensuring community and household access to land and natural resources.
NPA South Sudan programmes
NPA’s programmes work across the three pillars of the Triple Nexus: humanitarian, development and peace building, and are increasingly focused on responding together in a way that helps respond to an emergency, prevent new crises, and contribute to the search for longer term development solutions. NPA’s programmes build on a conflict-sensitive context analysis, the mainstreaming of gender and prevention of gender based violence through partnership approach, and a focus on the environment – in particular in the design of its programmes. NPA runs programmes in Lakes, Jonglei, Central Equatoria and Western Equatoria States.
The Civil Society Development Programme (CSDP)
Norwegian People’s Aid works with 28 partners under the civil society programme, the work of which is broadly divided into four different areas:
- Conflicts over rights to land and natural resources often occur in settings impacted by urbanization and internal displacement. NPA partners do what they can to mediate in such conflicts and help local communities protect their rights.
- Freedom of expression and media issues are important to partners who work closely with various radio stations in order to spread information about dialogue, peace and reconciliation and provide training to journalists.
- Violence against women is a widespread problem in South Sudan. Many of NPA partners work to strengthen women’s rights by mobilizing women’s groups, strengthening legal protection for women and holding public awareness campaigns.
- NPA also supports young adults who promote non-violent conflict resolution. Means to this end include art and performances that encourage peace and reconciliation.
Rural Development (RD) Programme:
Most households in South Sudan have limited livelihood opportunities and are thus pre-disposed to recurrent risks and shocks. Supporting alternative livelihoods and income generation opportunities can enhance resilience and ability to adapt to a changing environment which exposes the vulnerable households to shocks. NPA has since 1995 been implementing the Rural Development (RD) programme which focuses on medium to more long-term livelihoods strengthening activities linking to markets that aim to increase the resilience of conflict-affected households in South Sudan. The programme activities are implemented directly by NPA and through partnership with 12 local NGOs and Community Based Organizations (CBOs).
The RD activities are divided into three main programming areas:
- Promotion of increased and diversified household incomes by supporting income generating activities, access to microfinance though village savings and loans, entrepreneurial /business skills transfer, cash for wok and micro enterprise development.
- Support for increased household food productivity by supporting access to quality agricultural inputs (seed and tools), fishing kits distributions, post-harvest technologies, smallholder farmer trainings and livestock production interventions (livestock distributions, vaccinations and trainings targeting pastoralists).
- Promotion of peace building/conflict mitigation, natural resource management and Disaster Risk Reduction (DRR). Activities include capacity building of local structures (natural resource management committees, disaster risk reduction committees and peace committees), natural resource mapping and support for peace building/conflict mitigation.
Emergency Response Programme (ERP):
The emergency response programme focuses on providing food aid to vulnerable civilians. The aim of the programme is to save lives and support post emergency transitional recovery process through:
- Provision of in-kind food aid through unconditional support i.e. General Food Distribution (GFD) and conditional support i.e. Food for Assets (FFA).
- Provision of emergency recovery livelihoods kits.
- Provision of unconditional multipurpose cash assistance.
- Provision of cash grants to Income Generating Activity (IGA) groups.
- In responses to crises in areas where it is present and has a comparative advantage, NPA has also taken on a humanitarian coordination role and has provided a broader humanitarian response to the needs of the communities it serves – including the provision of Non-Food Items (NFIs), dignity kits for women and girls, and shelters
The emergency response programme activities have traditionally been carried out by NPA employees in cooperation with local communities, but since 2022, NPA has also partnered with 3 local organizations to ensure a greater reach of its emergency response programme.
South Sudan IPC Acute Food Security & Acute Malnutrition Analysis February to July 2022. Issued: 09 April 2022