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 Thursday 23 July 2009
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SUDAN: Food crisis warning in the south

Photo: Manoocher Deghati/IRIN
A woman prepares food: Poor infrastructure across the region has left some areas isolated, especially during the rainy season, while insecurity has impeded delivery of aid to some places - file photo
JUBA, 10 July 2009 (IRIN) - Southern Sudan could face a food crisis this year because of erratic rainfall in several states, insecurity disrupting farming patterns, and poor infrastructure affecting aid delivery, local specialists said.

“We certainly are concerned that there may indeed be a food crisis in Southern Sudan this year,” David Gressly, regional coordinator for the UN Mission in Sudan (UNMIS) in Southern Sudan, said on 8 July.

“Insecurity may be one of the factors that inhibited some crop production,” he told a news conference in Khartoum. “The larger factor may simply be the weather this year. Anybody who has travelled to Southern Sudan this time of year in the past would have seen a great deal of rain. We are not seeing the kind of rain so far in Southern Sudan as is typical.”

Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal, Jonglei and Upper Nile States are at greatest risk. At least three million people live in these states, according to the 2008 census results. Also likely to be affected is Eastern Equatoria.

“Those four states are of concern and we are hoping in two or three weeks we would come up with an accurate assessment of how severe that might be,” Gressly added. “But, certainly at an anecdotal level, it does seem to be an indication of a crisis.”

Poor infrastructure across the region has left some areas isolated, especially during the rainy season, while insecurity has impeded delivery of aid to some places such as Akobo in Jonglei State. Local climate conditions in states such as Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal have also been harsh.

Akobo, which hosts about 19,000 displaced civilians, was cut off from aid supplies by a 12 June attack on boats carrying food, near Nassir in Upper Nile State. Since then UNMIS has airlifted nearly 150MT just to provide basic food supplies to the area.

According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), poor rains had prolonged a severe dry spell across most of Southern Sudan – although recent rains may ameliorate conditions.

Photo: Ben Parker/IRIN
Food distribution: Southern Sudan could face a food crisis this year because of erratic rainfall in several states - file photo
Planting delays

The most food-insecure population was concentrated in the eastern and northwestern parts of Southern Sudan. In a June report, the Sudan Meteorological Authority said that despite recent improvements, rains were largely delayed from Northern Bahr-el-Ghazal to Jonglei and Upper Nile States.

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network, in its June update, warned that below-normal rains in May and mid-June had affected output during the April-July cropping season in areas such as Greater Equatoria.

Poor rains from May to mid-June could also signal possible planting delays in many of the June-September-November cropping areas in the eastern/western flood plains and in the Nile-Sobat livelihood zones, the network noted.

The situation has hurt returnees and refugees especially, according to OCHA. In Yambio, some of the 73,000 displaced people who had been living in surplus crop-producing areas, including Ezo, Maridi, Yei and Mundri, are now food-insecure due to attacks by the Ugandan rebel Lord’s Resistance Army since December.

On 5 July, Southern Sudanese Vice-President Riek Machar told the UN Radio Miraya that a huge food gap existed in Bahr Al Ghazal, Upper Bile and Eastern Equatoria states, and that a government-donor meeting would be held on 3 August to review the situation.


Theme(s): (PLUSNEWS) Food Security


[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]
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