Risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) persists, though slight improvements expected with reduced conflict
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
IPC v3.0 Acute Food Insecurity Phase
current or programmed humanitarian assistance
Lower conflict will support slight food security improvements, though the risk of Famine will persist
These outcomes highlight the continuous high levels of acute food insecurity across South Sudan. Food consumption indicators have shown persistent deterioration since the start of the conflict in late 2013, with the majority of the population now reporting a borderline or poor food consumption score (FCS) with the mean FCS of 25, dropping from over 40 prior to the conflict (Figure 1). Household Hunger Scale also indicates continued high reporting of moderate and severe hunger. Humanitarian food assistance is mitigating more extreme outcomes in many areas across the country; however, the reach of assistance remains far below the estimated need. An IPC update conducted in May found that extreme levels of acute food insecurity persist across South Sudan, with nearly 7 million people estimated to face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes between May and July 2019 in the presence of ongoing and planned humanitarian assistance. This estimate includes roughly 1.82 million people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and 21,000 people in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in Cueibet of Lakes, Canal/Pigi of Jonglei, and Panyikang or Upper Nile.
Food security is expected to improve in late 2019 as relatively lower levels of conflict in the past year have supported greater household movement, improved trade flows, and the resumption – to some degree – of typical livelihood activities including planting and fishing. It is anticipated that 2019/20 harvest, starting in September, will be better than production in 2018/19, the first time since the onset of the conflict that it has been expected national production would improve relative to the preceding year. By late 2019, after the ongoing lean season, these improvements are expected to support Stressed (IPC Phase 2) outcomes in some areas of the country, though Crisis (IPC Phase 3) will remain widespread and several counties will continue to face Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes. Should there be an absence of humanitarian assistance during this time period, Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes would be more prevalent.
Despite the decline in conflict and expected slight food security improvements, years of active conflict have eroded the capacity of many households’ to cope (Figure 2), and the loss of these strategies and many household assets will continue to drive high levels of acute food insecurity even with improved production and greater household movement. Additionally, the risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) will persist given the already high levels of acute food insecurity and the possibility for conflict to shift. Past trends indicate that conflict can shift quickly in South Sudan and food security deteriorates sharply when conflict restricts household movement and humanitarian access. Should this worst-case scenario occur, Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely. Full implementation of the September 2018 peace deal and an end to the conflict is needed for long-term food security improvements and to end the persistent risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) in South Sudan. A scale-up in humanitarian food assistance is needed currently and throughout the projection period to prevent the loss of lives and livelihoods.
Data collected in the 23rd round of the Food Security and Nutrition Monitoring System (FSNMS) and rapid assessments conducted by FEWS NET and partners indicated that extreme levels of acute food insecurity persisted in January. Nationally, 51 percent of the population reported a poor Food Consumption Score (FCS) and 61 percent reported moderate hunger on the Household Hunger Scale (HHS) in early 2019. Additionally, an estimated 50 percent of the population reported engaging in at least one coping strategy indicative of Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or Emergency (IPC Phase 4) due to a lack of food or money to purchase food. Overall, these outcomes, corroborated by rapid assessments, indicated widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) with some households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) during the post-harvest period.
An IPC update conducted in May found food security had deteriorated somewhat during the ongoing lean season. The analysis estimated 6.96 million people (61% of the population) face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity in the presence of humanitarian assistance, among whom 1.82 million people are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and 21,000 people are in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).
The ongoing implementation of the September 2018 peace deal has significantly lowered active conflict in 2019 relative to 2014-2018 in many areas of Greater Upper Nile, Greater Bahr el Ghazal and some parts of Greater Equatoria (Figure 3). This has led to some improvement in trade flows and the recovery of market functioning and encouraged the return of some IDPs and refugees to their areas of origins. Despite these improvements, armed and inter-communal conflict persists in parts of the country, including in Lakes, Kapoeta East, Pibor, Twic, and Yei, and has resulted in the loss of lives, displacement, disruption along trade routes, and has restricted farming and other key livelihood activities. Furthermore, despite the current decline in conflict events, the last five years of active conflict have resulted in the loss of some livelihood options, household assets, and erosion of households’ capacity to cope – all of which continue to drive high levels of acute food insecurity in the country.
Macroeconomic conditions throughout the country have remained poor and continue to be characterized by high inflation and unemployment. This is despite increases in non-oil revenue collection and an increase in oil exports from 135,000 barrels per day (bpd) in November 2018 to 175,000 bpd in May 2019. Despite increased hard currency earnings from oil exports, much of this revenue is already allocated to infrastructure development, logistics of the implementation of the peace agreement, and the repayment of loans. As a result, traders’ and service providers’ access to foreign currency to import consumer goods and provide basic public services remains very low. The gradual improvement of hard currency earnings has helped maintain the exchange rate somewhat, though, at high levels between 275 to 280 South Sudanese Pounds (SSP) per U.S. Dollar (USD) on the parallel market. The official exchange rate remains at around 156 SSP/USD in mid-May 2019.
Trade flows and market functioning have improved somewhat in 2019 given lower levels of conflict (Figure 4). Key informant information indicated trade flow from Sudan to Wau and Raga; White Nile State to Fashoda and Leer; Bentiu and Rumbek to Central Unity; Ethiopia to Pagak; and Juba-Bor-Adok in Leer via the Nile River are all operating with minimum disruption. This is in addition to improvements observed in trade flows along the Nimule-Juba road, the main supply route into the country, and trade volumes in the first quarter of 2019 have improved relative to the previous quarter and the same quarter last year.
However, due to below average production and currency depreciation, market supplies across most of the country remain lower than pre-crisis levels, and prices of staple food are extremely high (Figure 5). According to price data from CLiMIS, the retail price of white sorghum in Juba in May 2019 was 74 percent lower than last year, but 147 percent higher than the five-year average. Similarly, in Wau, the price of sorghum in April was 76 percent lower than last year, but 173 percent higher than five-year average. In Aweil Centre, the price of sorghum was 78 percent lower than last year, but 250 percent higher than the five-year average. In Juba, prices have remained below last year for several months. In Wau and Aweil, the price drop below last year’s prices is anticipated to be temporary and attributed to increased assistance delivery and the release of stocks by traders. Prices remain above both last year and the five-year average in most rural markets.
The onset of March to May first season rains in bimodal Greater Equatoria was 10-30 days late; in most areas rains started in early to mid-April and were characterized by poor spatial distribution and below-average totals. Rainfall increased in May, though deficits persisted at the end of the season in several areas (Figure 6). The delayed start of rains led to delayed planting of maize and groundnuts crops. Ground information from key informants indicates that 15 to 45 percent of planted cereal crops in Equatoria are currently in different vegetative stages of growth. Overall the area planted is similar to last year but remains below pre-crisis levels due to continued insecurity limiting access to farmlands in some areas and poor seasonal progress. Conversely, in northern unimodal rainfall areas the start of rains was early or timely. In Central Upper Nile and Bahr-el Ghazal regions, land preparation and some planting are ongoing.
Throughout the country humanitarian access has somewhat improved in areas previously inaccessible in Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr el Ghazal. Many areas continue to be reached with emergency assistance: between January and April, between 1 and 2 million people were reached with humanitarian food assistance, specifically general food distributions (GFD) or food for assets programs (FFA). It is expected that this assistance continues to mitigate more severe outcomes in many areas of concern in Greater Upper Nile, Greater Bahr el Ghazal and some parts of Greater Equatoria. However, the population reached with assistance remains well below the roughly 7.7 million people expected to be in need of humanitarian food assistance (Figure 7).
As a result of the erosion of livelihoods throughout the protracted conflict including the loss of livelihood assets, as well as extremely high food prices, exhaustion of harvests, and some restriction to wild foods, many households continue to face difficulty meeting their basic food needs and high levels of acute food insecurity persist. SMART surveys conducted between January and April 2019 corroborate likely high levels of acute food insecurity: the SMART surveys recorded a ‘Serious’ (10.0-14.9%) to ‘Critical’ (15.0-29.9%) Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) prevalence by weight-for-height z-score (WHZ) (Figure 8). It is expected Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes persist throughout the country and Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) outcomes are anticipated in areas of greatest concern including Panyikang of Upper Nile, Cueibet of Lakes, and Canal/Pigi of Jonglei. In several areas, humanitarian food assistance continues to prevent more extreme outcomes and Crisis (IPC Phase 3!) is likely, notably in areas of Greater Upper Nile, Greater Bahr el Ghazal, and parts of Eastern Equatoria.
The June 2019 to January 2020 most likely scenario is based on the following national-level assumptions:
- Conflict is likely to be lower than that observed between 2014 and 2018 based on recent trends and given the ongoing peace deal implementation and continued involvement of IGAD and the international community. However, some conflict events and insecurity are still likely in areas of Greater Equatoria and Greater Upper Nile and, to a lesser extent, in Western Bahr el Ghazal. In Lakes, Warrap, and Jonglei, cattle-raiding and inter-communal conflict are also anticipated.
- Given likely lower levels of conflict, new internal displacements are expected to be relatively low. Some returnees are expected from Sudan and Ethiopia based on current trends. Returnees are also likely from Uganda and the DRC, though the number of returnees from these counties is likely to be low as insecurity still persists along the borders with these countries. Internally, some IDPs are likely to return to their areas of origins, especially from Bentiu, Malakal and Wau PoCs. Overall, the number of displaced persons will remain high.
- Based on forecasts from NOAA and USGS, rainfall from June to September is forecast to be above average. This is expected to result in an overall above-average main rainy season in Greater Bahr el Ghazal and Greater Upper Nile. Despite early season rainfall deficits in Greater Equatoria, the recovery of rainfall late in the season and forecast above-average rainfall during the second rainy season is anticipated to result in overall above-average rainfall in 2019. Some flooding is likely in flood-prone areas of the country, primarily areas of Greater Upper Nile and Greater Bahr el Ghazal.
- In Greater Equatoria, due to the poor start of season, June/July first season production is expected to be lower than last year and pre-crisis levels. However, above-average rainfall through September and relatively better access to planting is likely to result in higher production during the November/December second season in Greater Equatoria and main season in northern areas relative to last year. Nationally, 2019/20 production is likely to be slightly better than 2018/19 production, but still below pre-crisis levels.
- The availability of fish and wild foods is expected to increase seasonally through September, and total availability is expected to be above average in northern areas given the forecast of above average rainfall. Insecurity is still expected to periodically limit access to these food sources, though to a lesser degree than that which occurred between 2016-2018 when conflict was relatively higher.
- Based on FEWS NET’s integrated price projections, staple food prices in markets outside of Juba, including Wau, Rumbek Center, Bor South, and Aweil, are expected to be higher than 2018 prices, between 100 and 200 SSP/kg. High prices are expected as a result of continued slight currency depreciation, periodic conflict-related disruptions to trade, and continued high transportation costs. Staple food prices in Juba are expected to remain below 2018 prices, between 85 and 115 SSP/kg, due to the local harvest and likely increased trade flows through Nimule.
- Trade and market functioning are expected to improve relative to last year; however, in areas where insecurity will likely persist, trade flows will intermittently be disrupted. Imports from Uganda are expected to be higher than last year as security along the Juba-Nimule road improves traders’ confidence. Given persistent poor macroeconomic conditions in Sudan, it is expected that imports from Sudan will remain similar or slightly lower than the first quarter of 2019.
- Macroeconomic conditions are expected to improve slightly with continued lower levels of conflict and likely increasing oil production that is expected to be somewhat above current levels, though still below pre-crisis levels of 350,000 bpd. It is expected that this and ongoing efforts to increase the non-oil revenues, will moderate the rate of depreciation of the SSP, though the local currency is still expected to fluctuate between 250 and 300 SSP/USD during the outlook period.
Based on WFP’s updated operational plan and past humanitarian assistance delivery trends, it is expected that humanitarian food assistance through GFD and FFA will reach between 1.8 and 2.5 million people monthly during the June to September period. Also based on plans, past trends, and the expectation of a harvest at this time, the monthly reach of assistance is anticipated to be lower during the October to December period, reaching between 1 and 1.5 million people per month. The assistance delivery assumed above is somewhat lower than plans due to the likely periodic access and budgetary constraints. On average households are expected to be reached with a 33 to 50 percent of their monthly kilocalorie needs.
Most Likely Food Security Outcomes
Food security outcomes are likely to deteriorate further through the July/August peak of the lean season with the seasonal decline in food availability and access. Many households will continue to face difficulty purchasing sufficient food given that prices remain extremely high despite some declines in recent months. Furthermore, the erosion of livelihoods over time has left many households with few or no livestock and lower assets with which to engage in cultivation. Food security will improve slightly towards the end of the first projection period with the arrival of green harvests in late-August/September and seasonal increases in the availability of fish, waterlilies, livestock products, and wild greens. Overall, though, widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes are expected to persist during this time, with some households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in Panyikang of Upper Nile, Canal/Pigi of Jonglei and Cueibet of Lakes. In addition to these counties, areas of greatest concern include Rumbek North and Yirol East of Lakes; Leer, Mayendit, and Koch of Central Unity; Raga and Wau of Western Bahr el Ghazal; and Kapoeta East of Eastern Equatoria. The prevalence of acute malnutrition is expected to deteriorate, though remain between ‘Serious’ and ‘Critical’ levels.
Between October 2019 and January 2020, food security is expected to improve with the dry harvest, greater increases in livestock production, and continued availability of fish and wild foods. Seasonally lower food prices will improve food access relative to the lean season, though still continue to restrict normal food access across the country. Improvements to household movement, trade flows, and production are expected to drive slightly better food security outcomes than have been projected in South Sudan in recent years, though widespread Crisis (IPC phase 3) outcomes are still likely, with several areas of greatest concern likely to remain in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). Additionally, more widespread Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes would be likely even during this post-harvest period in the absence of the assistance that is likely to be delivered throughout the projection period. A risk of Famine (IPC Phase 5) will persist in South Sudan; Famine (IPC Phase 5) would be likely in the event that conflict shifts and severely limits household movement and humanitarian access.
Events that Might Change the Outlook
Possible events over the next eight months that could change the most-likely scenario.
|Area||Event||Impact on food security outcomes|
|National||No implementation of the signed peace deal that in turn leads to an uptick in conflict||This would likely restrict household movement, including towards markets and wild foods, increase displacement, and lower the delivery of humanitarian assistance. As was observed between 2016 and 2018, more widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) and Emergency (IPC Phase 4) outcomes, and an increased number of households in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), would be likely across seasons. The concern for the likelihood of Famine (IPC Phase 5) would increase in areas of heavy conflict.|
|National||Scale-up in oil production and exports; increase in other sources of foreign currency earnings||This would increase the availability of foreign currency and although some of these earnings would continue to go to loan repayment, some earnings would likely be available for increased importation of basic goods and increased spending on public services. The SSP would also likely appreciate slightly, resulting in better food access through lower food prices. Food security outcomes would likely improve slightly, though widespread Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse outcomes would persist.|
For more information on the outlook for specific areas of concern, please click the download button at the top of the page for the full report.
About Scenario Development
To project food security outcomes, FEWS NET develops a set of assumptions about likely events, their effects, and the probable responses of various actors. FEWS NET analyzes these assumptions in the context of current conditions and local livelihoods to arrive at a most likely scenario for the coming eight months. Learn more here.