Six million people in South Sudan—well beyond the half of the population (56%)— were estimated to be severely food insecure in September 2017, out of which 40 000 in humanitarian catastrophe. The current harvest season, between October to December 2017 is expected to reduce the number of people experiencing food insecurity to 4.8 million. However, the situation could worsen next year exposing multiple locations across the country to high risk of famine due to poor harvest. In 2018, 1.1 million children under five are expected to be malnourished.
According to the September 2017 Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis, humanitarian catastrophe is expected to persist in 2018 with pockets of population affected in the former Wester Bahr el Ghazal state. Currently 25 000 people in Jonglei and Western Bahr el Ghazal are estimated to be in humanitarian catastrophe. When there is severe lack of food, people are forced to adopt to extremely poor diets, and as a result suffering from starvation, which weakens their immune system. The body becomes more susceptible to diseases that can be fatal if left untreated.
“This food crisis and the impact it is having on people’s health is not going away,” says Mr Evans Liyosi, WHO Representative a.i. for South Sudan. “2018 could be even worse. We are working to prepare more now so that South Sudan does not fall further into an abyss beyond hopes of recovery.”
Ongoing conflict, economic instability and access constraints for humanitarian agencies have further deteriorated South Sudan’s weak health system. Most families have no access to basic health care, including routine immunization, which puts them at greater risks of dying and suffering from diseases when they are already malnourished.