Responding to Famine


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Some 100,000 people are already facing famine in South Sudan, while 1 million more are on the brink. Conflict has forced more than a quarter of the population to flee their homes, disrupted crop production, and destroyed livestock. It has also gravely compromised access to people who need help. Access to food has been further affected by a collapsing economy and massive price increases for basic food items. The current crisis yet again highlights the drivers of conflict: deep-rooted mutual suspicion, disregard for rule of law, lack of institutions to resolve disputes, and widespread economic deprivation. 

  • 1.6 million South Sudanese refugees have fled to neighboring countries; 1.9 million more are displaced inside the country.
  • 4.9 million people (42% of the population) are severely food insecure, and that number is expected to reach 5.5 million people by July 2017.
  • 100,000 people in Greater Unity state are facing famine, while other states remain chronically food insecure.
  • More than 1 million children are believed to be acutely malnourished.


UNDP South Sudan, with UNICEF, FAO, and WFP, has championed and proactively engaged in an integrated recovery and resilience-building programme, strengthening social services for the most vulnerable, building peace, strengthening governance, and reinvigorating the local economy. The programme aims to help communities better withstand shocks and crises by:

  • Supporting women vegetable producers for enhanced nutrition by providing irrigation pumps, agricultural tools, and seeds
  • Providing emergency employment to help revive local markets and supporting small traders and businesses to incentivize food production
  • Implementing cash-for-work programmes to build feeder road networks, enhancing access to local markets
  • Diversifying livelihood options by rehabilitating the local vocational training centre; trades will focus on food- and fish-processing for adequate nutrition
  • Introducing renewable energy solutions to keep health and education facilities running, with support from local government institutions
Recovery and stabilization require addressing immediate needs and restoring community trust to get people back to work and providing for themselves and their families without assistance. Together, these measures will help prevent and mitigate food insecurity and long-term humanitarian aid dependency in South Sudan. Given the chronic nature of food insecurity and malnutrition, promoting and producing nutritious foods locally is vital. Agriculture sector development—with a focus on building household resilience to food, price, and other shocks—must take priority. Small markets and community-level infrastructure will also help bridge gaps in rural communities suffering higher levels of poverty. UNDP is further addressing acute poverty by creating more sources of income, including microenterprises, livelihoods, and vocational training. Through the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Regional Initiative for Capacity Enhancement in South Sudan, administered by UNDP, eight civil service officers from Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia have been deployed to work in state and national ministries of agriculture in the towns of Yambio, Torit, Juba, and Wau.


UNDP’s Integrated Crisis Response Programme aims to support recovery and stabilization and lay a strong foundation for national reconciliation and sustainable development through the following:
Promoting Access to Justice and Rule of Law
This programme provides support to Sexual and Gender-Based Violence (SGBV) survivors and other vulnerable groups; helps with community policing; provides trauma management and psycho-social support; and promotes civic education on transitional justice. Seven Justice and Confidence Centers have been established, through which legal services and advice have helped some 70,000 people. Peace mediation conferences led to 10 community-level peace agreements.
Livelihood Restoration and Support to Micro-Enterprises
This programme supports rapid business recovery, restores local markets, and provides skills development and income support. A market for women is under construction in Rejaf County, an area neighboring Juba which has seen an influx in displaced people relocating due to insecurity, to help restore community-level food supply. This new vegetable market will comprise 72 stalls, toilet blocks, a vegetable washing area, an elevated water tank, and a solar lighting system. It is expected to serve approximately 9,000 residents. In Aweil, a vocational training centre and additional market stalls have been built. 
Peace-Building and Reconciliation
This programme comprises peace messaging and a public awareness campa­ign, a national consultative dialogue, high-level diplomacy, and measure to enhance community interdependence. An estimated 6 million people so far have been reached with peace and reconciliation messages, using media such as SMS, an interactive radio programme, participatory theatre, and public debates.

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