In southern Sudan, the emergency food situation has gone from bad to worse – much worse.
The U.N. World Food Program says the number of people in southern Sudan needing food aid has quadrupled – up from about one million in 2009 to over four million this year.
WFP Southern Sudan Coordinator Leo Van Der Veldon, who’s in the regional capital of Juba, says there are two main factors in the deteriorating situation.
“One is the drought. The drought is not only here in South Sudan, but also it’s affected Kenya, parts of Uganda and Ethiopia. And the second factor is inter-tribal conflicts. Both had an effect on the high food prices,” he says.
He says the conflicts have gotten worse because fighters are now armed with automatic instead of traditional weapons. The violence results in the displacement of many people, affecting how and where the WFP distributes aid.
Here comes the rain
The rainy season is approaching southern Sudan, which could complicate matters.
Van der Veldon says parts of the region “become one big swamp in the rainy season and the roads are then completely blocked.”
As a result, the WFP is prepositioning food in regional warehouses, so the aid will not have to be transported great distances to get to those in need.
He says, despite current conditions, the WFP is not expected to continue the aid to such large numbers throughout the year.
“No, hopefully not. What we foresee now is that they really need the assistance just before the harvest, two months before the harvest for the general(ly) food insecure. The severe(ly) food insecure will get another four or five months of assistance as well.”
The harvest season in southern Sudan is due in October and November.