This year, the United Nations declared famine in the World’s newest nation, South Sudan. While we’ve been conditioned by what we see in the news, on our TVs and in social media to view famine as synonymous with Africa, March 2017 was the first time that famine had been declared anywhere in the world in the past six years.
Civil war and economic collapse significantly contributed to the crisis, which saw millions displaced within South Sudan and neighbouring Uganda. The United Nations Refugee Agency reported of the 1 million refugees in Uganda, 85% were women and children, who are often most vulnerable in times of crisis. Insecurity and poor rainfall have compounded the food crisis.
Plan International has been working in South Sudan since 2010 in Central Equatoria, Eastern Equatoria, Jonlie and Lakes. Our focus has been on food security and livelihoods and that focus has continued in our response to the famine which has also included education in emergencies (including school feeding activities and education on gender-based violence), nutrition, non-food items and child protection in emergencies.
The Australian public was quick to respond in the face of the famine, donating $613,000 to our South Sudan Appeals and $314,000 to our South Sudan related appeals.
Thanks to your support we’ve been able to focus on the following areas:
- Saving lives through general food distribution to the population constantly displaced by the escalated internal conflict and those on route to neighbouring countries (particularly Ethiopia and Uganda) for safety, use of food resources for community assets creation, and primary education support through school feeding program
- Addressing malnutrition to targeted malnourished children and pregnant women (outpatient therapeutic and therapeutic supplementary feeding program – inpatients)
- In pockets of relatively peaceful areas livelihood recovery through distribution of agricultural inputs such as seeds, tools or fishing equipment and food ration till harvest and non-food items (NFI)
- Cross-cutting activities such as child protection and education in emergency (mainly awareness sessions on child protection).
Since famine was declared in March 2017 we have reached 423,038 (as at August 2017) people in the four states we are operational in. Still access continues to present a challenge as insecurity is unpredictable and occurs in almost all parts of the country. With your support we’re working to reach as many people as we can to save lives.
"We hope peace returns one day"
It is almost the middle of the rainy season in South Sudan, but many residents of Yei in the country’s Equatoria region are yet to plant any crops. There’s nothing to plant and no tools to plant with.
Rose Tabu is a 21-year-old mother. She was displaced from the town of Tore Payam 77 kilometres northwest of Yei after her house was burned down by armed men.
“On that day, I lost all I had – I am only thankful my life was spared,” she says.
Rose managed to escape with her son and her sick mother. Her husband followed them later to Yei town where they now live.
Arriving in Yei two weeks after their neighbours, Rose and her family were forced to start their lives from scratch. It hasn’t been easy and they have been unable to grow anything to eat.
Now, with Plan International’s support, they have received seeds and tools which will soon enable them to harvest food to eat.
Through distributing seeds and tools for harvest, we are building resilience in communities which are otherwise vulnerable to the hunger crisis which has gripped South Sudan.
“This project has given us hope,” says Rose. “We hope peace returns one day and we can go back to our communities in Tore.”