Floods Cause 1.6 Million Children in South Sudan to Face Malnutrition

November 7, 2023

76% of South Sudan's population are in need of humanitarian assistance.
Sudanese who took shelter in a camp near Juba, is viewed as part of the 20 June World Refugee Day, 2023 in Juba, South Sudan. Photo by Anadolu Images.


n a sobering announcement from the World Food Program (WFP) on November 7, 2023, the United Nations agency forecasted a grim future for the children of South Sudan. Over 1.6 million children under the age of five are anticipated to face acute malnutrition in 2024 as the country grapples with the repercussions of severe flooding and the ensuing spread of waterborne diseases.

The WFP, utilizing data from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), indicated that malnutrition rates are soaring, particularly in flood-affected areas where the population struggles with limited access to food and sustainable livelihoods. South Sudan’s youngest citizens are expected to bear the brunt of these challenges.

Mary-Ellen McGroarty, the WFP’s Country Director in South Sudan, highlighted the dire circumstances in a recent statement. “Living on the frontline of the climate crisis, we are witnessing an alarming increase in malnutrition rates, primarily due to overcrowded and waterlogged living conditions,” she said.

Significant flooding

Rubkona County has been identified as a region of concern, where catastrophic levels of hunger are predicted by April 2024. This area has experienced significant flooding since 2021, leading to a dramatic spike in food prices and forcing communities to inhabit makeshift islands. The WFP notes that staple food costs in the county have surged by over 120 percent since April.

The situation is exacerbated by the influx of refugees returning from Sudan, where recent conflict has resulted in significant loss of life and raised concerns about a potential regional humanitarian crisis. South Sudan itself is no stranger to conflict, having spent a substantial portion of its post-independence years in civil war, leading to devastating human and economic tolls.

According to the World Bank, despite its oil reserves, South Sudan remains mired in a “serious humanitarian crisis” with approximately 9.4 million people, or 76 percent of the population, in need of humanitarian aid in 2023.

World Food Program

The WFP adds that the persistent flooding in South Sudan can be attributed to the Nile basins spilling over, notably Lake Victoria, which experienced higher than usual rainfall last year, signaling that the excessive water levels may continue unabated.

The United Nations has repeatedly condemned South Sudan’s leaders for their contributions to the ongoing violence and political repression, as well as for widespread corruption that has depleted the nation’s resources.

As the international community responds to the WFP’s urgent call for assistance, the world watches, hoping for swift action to avert a tragedy of unimaginable proportions for the children of South Sudan.

Sources: AFP, Anadolu

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