Hunger crisis in South Sudan

Nyaliah came from Nyandong Payam for the World Food Programme distribution registration in Nyal, Panyijar county, where emergency hunger levels were declared in January 2017. Photo: Bruno Bierrenbach/Oxfam
Nyaliah came from Nyandong Payam for the World Food Programme distribution registration in Nyal, Panyijar county, where emergency hunger levels were declared in January 2017. Photo: Bruno Bierrenbach/Oxfam

South Sudan is facing a catastrophic humanitarian crisis driven by three years of a brutal civil war. Over 5.5 million people are facing extreme hunger and 60% of the population is in need of urgent aid. Help us provide food, water and sanitation now.

A human-made disaster

Following a power crisis erupted in Juba in 2013, South Sudan has spiraled into a national, political and ethnic conflict, quickly spreading across many parts of the country and leading to the death of thousands of women, children and men.

Since then, 3.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes due to the brutal war. Out of these, 1.8 million have sought safety in neighboring countries, mainly Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. Most of them are women and children.This is the biggest refugee crisis on the African continent.

One of the world’s worst food crises

Forced to abandon their farms and livestock, people have lost their means of feeding their families. The country has spiraled into an economic free-fall characterized by food and fuel prices which have skyrocketed and an ever-rising cost of living. Trade and local markets have been disrupted and food stock has depleted.

In February 2017, famine was declared in Leer and Mayendit, two counties of former Unity State, affecting 100,000 people, with 1 million more on the brink. Thanks to the generosity of the public and governments, Oxfam and other humanitarian agencies have been able to stop the spread of famine. For now.

The conflict has recently intensified and the situation across the country is getting worse. Today, over 5.5 million - 45 percent of the population - are facing extreme hunger and it is expected to increase to half of the country’s population by the end of July.

Although the rains are now beginning and people can start planting, it will be months until crops produce food. The current rainy season also brings a huge risk of water borne diseases like cholera which is already taking hold across the country.

7.5 million people are now in need of humanitarian assistance.

Oxfam canoes transporting vulnerable people in South Sudan.Oxfam canoes transporting vulnerable people who could not make it by themselves to the mainland for the WFP food registration. Photo: Bruno Bierrenbach/Oxfam

Oxfam’s response

We are on the ground racing to get food, water and hygiene items to the most vulnerable people, including thousands who have fled to remote islands in the middle of huge swamps. In 2016 we reached over 600,000 with emergency and longer-term support.

We are also responding to the refugee crisis regionally in Uganda, Ethiopia, Democratic Republic of Congo and Chad.

Our activities include:

  • Providing emergency food distributions
  • Supplying clean water and building safe sanitation facilities
  • Promoting good hygiene practices through participatory activities and providing essential hygiene items
  • Providing vouchers for canoes so that people sheltering from the conflict on islands in the swamps can get to the help they need

We are also supporting the most vulnerable people to produce food for themselves and develop livelihoods to support their basic needs. We provide families with assets like livestock, tools, seeds and fishing gear, as well as giving training on improved farming methods. We distribute cash and vouchers to vulnerable families for use in markets where they exist.

We continue to fight cholera outbreaks that have been confirmed countrywide, with over 7,700 active cases. We are repairing boreholes, as well as distributing soap, buckets and water treatment tablets. We are organizing public awareness campaigns on cholera prevention and treatment, as well.

You can help

Every day that the conflict continues, South Sudanese people face a threat to their lives. They have been pushed to the brink, surviving on what they can find to eat in swamps. As so often in a crisis, women and children are the worst affected.

This is a human-made tragedy, and we are running out of time to avoid it getting worse.

Please donate now

Updated June 2017