According to United Nations Assistant Secretary-General Toby Lanzer, South Sudan is facing the worst starvation in Africa since the 1980s. About one-third of the population is already at severe risk due to fighting between government troops and rebel factions. The need to get emergency food assistance to people affected by fighting a “race against time,” he said, adding that “if we miss the planting season, there will be a catastrophic decline in food security.”
With about seven million people affected by the lack of food, Lanzer stated that it “will be more grave than anything that continent has seen since the mid-1980s.” For Foodgrains Bank International Programs Director Grant Hillier, “the result of this conflict on innocent people is truly devastating. It is critical that the world’s attention be focused on these people, and that we do not allow the catastrophic predictions to come to pass.” At present, the Foodgrains Bank is supporting two projects through its members in South Sudan, and monitoring the situation to see what else it might do.
South Sudan is the world’s newest country. After voting to separate from its northern neighbour about three years ago, the country has been in a fragile state of peace.This changed in December 2013, when fighting broke out between government forces and rebels loyal to the former vice president. The conflict quickly spread across the country. To date, more than 800,000 people have fled their homes and are displaced within South Sudan, while more than 250,000 people have fled to neighbouring countries. Since most South Sudanese are small-scale farmers who depend on being able to plant food in order to survive, being displaced means they are at risk of starving to death.
The Foodgrains Bank is responding through programs implemented by its member ADRA Canada and Canadian Catholic Organization for Development and Peace (CCODP). ADRA Canada, with support from Foodgrains Bank members Presbyterian World Service and Development and the United Church of Canada, is responding to the needs of displaced people in Eastern Equatoria State. Food vouchers for grain, lentils, oil and salt are being distributed to people who have fled the fighting, as well as to members of the host community who have taken them in. A particular emphasis is being placed on making sure pregnant and nursing mothers, as well as young children, are receiving food. CCODP is in the planning stages of its response, with plans to provide special nutritional supplements for pregnant and nursing mothers, and children up to the age of two. World Relief Canada recently ended a two-month emergency food distribution to displaced people in Juba County.
Canadian Foodgrains Bank is accepting donations for South Sudan. Go to www.foodgrainsbank.ca to give your gift.