South Sudan Turns 10: Urgent Action Needed to Help Mass Hunger
As South Sudan marks 10 years of independence, the world's youngest country is currently suffering through extreme hunger levels, stubborn cycles of violence and slow political progress.
The country is facing the worst food security and nutrition crises globally. About 8.3 million people - three-quarters of the population - need humanitarian assistance to survive. The COVID-19 pandemic and its economic pressures drove the cost of food up by 42% over last year, driving 800,000 more South Sudanese into humanitarian need.
Addressing South Sudan's challenges will require a renewed and sincere commitment by all.
Commenting on the 10th anniversary of the country, Janardhan Rao, Mercy Corps Country Director in South Sudan, says:
"As we mark the tenth anniversary of South Sudan's independence, escalating violence at the local level is threatening to reignite civil war all over again. Now famine is stalking parts of the country that are still suffering from devastating floods and conflict. The world's youngest nation has made progress in implementing its 2018 Revitalized Peace Agreement, but despite the progress made, the overall implementation of the agreement is happening slowly.
"Hunger is now at the most extreme levels we've seen since independence in 2011. The situation is dire across the country as almost 7 million people - 60% of the population are struggling to find enough food to eat each day. In South Sudan, poverty is higher in rural areas where people depend on agriculture for their necessities. Years of war have destroyed the agricultural sector and infrastructure, making it difficult for the country to produce enough food. A coordinated effort across all sectors, including humanitarian response, is needed, or millions will remain on the edge of hunger.
"As the international community works to ensure a sustainable peace while responding to humanitarian and COVID crises, they should partner with local and national NGOs. South Sudan's independence is about putting the country's people first, and that is what its government and donors should do to honor and celebrate its independence."