Loaded Guns and Empty Stomachs

Fixing a food crisis and preventing a catastrophe in South Sudan

Publication date: 22 April 2014
Author: Joint agency briefing note

A major food crisis is currently enveloping South Sudan – endangering thousands of people, threatening to further destroy the gains made over the past five years and testing commitments by governments and the international community as well as lessons learnt from previous crises.

This food crisis is very much a product of the conflict, and it requires a bold response to stem the suffering of communities and to repair the fragile food security system.

With falling food production and failing markets, the resulting widespread food insecurity is leading to alarming rates of malnutrition. The conflict is already exacerbating the chronic food insecurity and nutrition gaps, and the needs threaten to overwhelm the capacity of responders. Without a proper strategy for prevention and treatment of malnutrition cases, an additional burden will fall to health actors to absorb the cases. This will further divert the already overstretched health resources, and will come at a high cost for the people of South Sudan.


The international community should remember lessons learnt from similar crises in South Sudan and elsewhere, and live up to its commitments by:

  1. Stopping the conflict.
  2. Immediately scaling up food assistance and nutrition interventions.
  3. Providing more funding for emergency and long-term food and nutrition assistance.
  4. Providing basic services to communities.
  5. Donors must not neglect the more developmental areas of South Sudan.