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South Sudan: Current (January 2018) and Projected (Feb.-Apr. 2018; May-July 2018) Acute Food Insecurity and Acute Malnutrition Situation

01/01/2018 - 30/06/2018
South Sudan

January 2018 IPC Classification

  • In January 2018, 5.3 million people (48% of the population) are estimated to be facing Crisis and Emergency (IPC Phases 3 and 4) acute food insecurity, out of which 1 million people are facing Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity. Compared with the same time last year, this reflects a 40% increase in the population facing severe food insecurity in the post-harvest season.
  • Worsening food insecurity is primarily driven by protracted conflict and displacements, which have contributed to insufficient crop production (only 61% of the 2018 national cereal needs are met by the harvest), disruptions to livelihoods and persistent macroeconomic deterioration. Livelihoods have been further eroded by climatic shocks, such as prolonged dry spells and flooding, and pest infestations (e.g. Fall Armyworm).
  • Food security has slightly improved since September 2017 as a result of a combination of large-scale humanitarian assistance, harvests, seasonal availability of fish and livestock products. As of January 2018 there are no longer populations in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) in Ayod and the Elevated Risk of Famine in greater Baggari sub-area of Western Bahr el Ghazal has been prevented. In particular, humanitarian assistance has prevented a worsening food security situation in 17 counties.
  • The January 2018 nutrition situation reflects a typical post-harvest seasonal improvements, with expectedly lower GAM rates that are attributed to humanitarian assistance, food stocks from harvests, improved access to nutrition and health services, reduction in morbidity and disease outbreaks during the dry season. Of the 22 SMART surveys conducted between September 2017 and January 2018, eight of them showed GAM rates above the 15% WHO emergency threshold. However, five counties in Jonglei (Ayod, Pibor, Akobo, Nyirol and Twic East), all counties in Northern Bahr el Ghazal (except Aweil Centre), Kapoeta East in Eastern Equatoria and Melut in Upper Nile state show Critical levels of Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM 15.0%-29.9%).

IPC Classification Projections (February–April 2018; May–July 2018)*

  • In February-April 2018, with humanitarian assistance planned, funded and likely there are 53 counties in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), 17 counties in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and none in Famine (IPC Phase 5). However, in the absence of all forms of humanitarian assistance, in February–April 2018, an estimated 6.3 million (57% of the population) would be in Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity, of which 50,000 are estimated to be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).
  • In May-July 2018, with humanitarian assistance planned, funded and likely there are 40 counties in Crisis (IPC Phase 3), 31 counties in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and none in Famine (IPC Phase 5). However, in the continued absence of all forms of humanitarian assistance, in May–July 2018, an estimated 7.1 million people (63% of the population) would face Crisis (IPC Phase 3) or worse acute food insecurity, of which 155,000 are estimated to be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) and 2.3 million are estimated to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) – at this time, rising excess mortality and acute malnutrition would be expected.
  • Despite the depletion of food stocks in some counties and the early onset of the lean season, the nutrition situation is expected to remain the same from February to April 2018. However, in the lead-up to the lean season of May–July 2018, the nutrition situation is expected to deteriorate significantly as a result of unprecedented levels of food insecurity, high morbidity, outbreaks of diarrhea and other illness, poor infant and young feeding practices as well as limited access to services due to the heavy rains. During this period, the counties of Leer and Mayendit in Unity and Longochuk and Renk of Upper Nile are expected to reach Extreme Critical levels (IPC Phase 5) as per the IPC for Acute Malnutrition Classification (GAM ≥ 30%). A majority of the counties in the Greater Upper Nile, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap and parts of Eastern Equatoria are expected to reach Critical levels of acute malnutrition, with some reaching the upper limit of the Critical level.
  • In the worst-case scenario, large-scale Catastrophe leading to Famine (IPC Phase 5) is likely in protracted absence of humanitarian assistance and conflict-related restrictions to population movement, and counties of greatest concern are Leer, Koch, Panyijiar, Ayod, Nyirol, and Uror. Therefore, delivering large-scale multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance is needed urgently to save lives in eleven counties namely Leer, Mayendit, Ayod, Nyirol, Uror, Koch, Panyijiar, Fangak, Pibor, Longochuk, and Wau (greater Baggari sub-area). In May–July 2018, delivery of planned humanitarian assistance will likely prevent another 19 counties  from falling into Emergency (IPC Phase 4). However, even with the planned levels of humanitarian assistance, in May-July 2018, 31 counties are likely to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) acute food insecurity and will require large-scale assistance to prevent extreme food security outcomes and loss of lives.


If the current drivers of food insecurity worsen through the end of 2018, and in the absence of humanitarian assistance, there is a heightened risk of Famine in areas where large populations are already experiencing severe food insecurity. To prevent populations falling into Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5), sufficient and sustained multi-sectoral humanitarian assistance, unhindered humanitarian access and close monitoring of the worst-affected areas is required. Ending conflict and sustained peace is critical to prevent continued disruption of livelihoods – particularly the next agricultural season in 2018 – in order to prevent further deterioration of an already severe food security situation in the country.


*To inform decision-making, the South Sudan IPC Technical Working Group has provided population estimates in the absence of all forms of humanitarian assistance for the two projection periods (February-April and May-July 2018), while the maps factor in the planned, funded and likely humanitarian assistance for the projected period.


Download the South Sudan TWG Key messages below>>

Food Security ClustersFEWS NETFAOThe Comité permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (CILSS)CARE InternationalACF
The World Food Programme (WFP)unicefSICASave the ChildrenOxfamThe Joint research Center (JRC) of the European CommissionIGAD