Famine looms in South Sudan

Wednesday October 12 2011

By Amos Machel

Monitor Correspondent
juba. South Sudan is experiencing a widening food gap of 300,000 to 400,000 metric tonnes, with the authorities warning that the deficit could escalate into a devastating crisis similar to that in the Horn of Africa.

“The climatic changes have affected South Sudan, causing both floods and droughts. The rainfall that was supposed to have started early this year was delayed,” Humanitarian Affairs minister Joseph Lual Achuil said, calling on donors to intervene in pre-empting a looming crisis.

Call for help
“A positive intervention is urgently needed to stop it from deteriorating into a famine situation similar to that in the Horn of Africa,” Mr Lual added. In some parts of the country, rainfall started in April and was punctuated by a dry spell in June, which implies that this year’s harvest is completely unreliable in a country where only small-scale farming is practiced.

According to the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Centre for Climate Information, heavy rains that started in September could continue to December this year, Mr. Lual said. “This will most likely affect crops and subsequently result into floods as has been witnessed in Torit in Eastern Equatoria State where recent floods washed away crops and homes,” Mr Lual said, referring to a recent torrential rainfall that destroyed crops and homes.

Jonglei, a vast populous state ruined by deadly ethnic cattle raiding and fighting among militias; Unity state, where rebels have been wreaking havoc even before independence; Upper Nile, which has a big number of returnees and internally displaced people; Warrap, where more than 350 returnees reportedly starved to death between July and August; Northern Bahr el Ghazal; parts of Western Equatoria; and parts of Eastern Equatoria are the most affected states.