Mathew Nims (L) USAID Food for Peace Director and Beth Dunford (R) Assistant Administrator, Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future (Photo by the US Embassy)
By Morris Dogga
As South Sudan joins the world in celebrating the World Food Day, the United States’ Agency for International Development (USAID) Food for Peace Director, Mathew Nims has called on the parties in South Sudan to silence their guns to allow humanitarian agencies provide food to the people facing severe food shortages.
The food situation in South Sudan remains dire. According to the Integrated Phase Classification Report (IPC) released last month, over 6 million people-nearly 60 percent are facing extreme hunger in the country or worse acute food insecurity in the country as a result of the conflict.
The IPC reports states that about 47,000 people were in catastrophic level-Phase 5 and over 1.7 million in an emergency level as a result of the protracted conflict, climatic change and the Fall Army Worm infestation on crops.
Addressing a telephonic press Briefing on Monday about the food security issues in Africa where he mentioned about South Sudan, Nims said it was important that humanitarian agencies were given free and unhindered access to deliver food to the most vulnerable people across the country.
“Our simple message is that, end the conflict and let the humanitarian aid workers do their job,” he said.
He mentioned that conflict remains one of the most driving causes of food insecurity in the world.
Meanwhile Beth Dunford, the Assistant to the Administrator and the Deputy Coordinator for Development for Feed the Future called for more investment on food security to avert the hunger situation.
She reiterated that the USAID would continue to prioritize efforts to fight hunger in the African continent and the world.
For hunger to be minimized, Dunford called for the participation of all the stakeholders including the private sector, the academia in addressing the root causes of the dire hunger situation.
According to the IPC, report over 1.2 million children under five years were severely malnourished with 20 percent above the World Health Organization (WHO) 15 percent emergency threshold in the Greater Upper Nile region.
The report further warns that the situation could get worse in the first quarter of 2019 as food stock were expected to deplete in the early onset of the lean season.
Since the start of the Conflict, the USAID office and partners of Food for Peace (EFF) and its partners-including the UN World Food programme, the UN children’s fund (UNICEF) have responded to the most vulnerable and conflict-affected populations through emergency food and nutrition interventions.
The Food for Peace programs provides food assistance to 1.5 million people per month on average.
With the EFF support, the Food and Agricultural Organization help food insecure people in the country, increase food production with seeds, fishing and tools kits.
FAO also provided vulnerable families with food vouchers exchangeable at local market, improving access to nutritious foods and supporting local economies.
Famine was declared in in the former Unity states in February last year, but due to rapid humanitarian response from the humanitarian agencies the situation was contained.