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South Sudan commemorates World Food Day amidst unprecedented hunger

By Okech Francis

What’s memorable for South Sudan on World Food Day is the unprecedented level of people going hungry despite the people enjoying respite after years of conflict, above 7.2 million people.

That’s three-quarters of the population and the United Nations is calling for action across all sectors to support the transformation to more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agri-food systems.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), UNICEF and the World Food Programme (WFP) join the Ministry of Agriculture and Food Security in celebrating World Food Day to empower women to contribute to achieving the sustainable transformation of South Sudan’s food systems and meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.

World Food Day is commemorated this year under the theme “Better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life,” calling for collective action to ensure sufficient, nutritious, and safe food is available at an affordable price to everyone, and nobody is hungry or suffers from any form of malnutrition.

Food insecurity in South Sudan is at its highest levels since the country gained independence ten years ago with sixty percent of the population facing severe and acute food insecurity, with families unable to feed themselves because of the combined effects of conflict, displacement, massive flooding and economic hardships, made worse by the COVID19 pandemic, a joint statement issued by the United Nations World Food Program, the Food and Agriculture Organization and the United Nations Children’s Agency said.

“This is further compounded by climate change which has already severely impacted the livelihoods of South Sudanese,” they said.

“The implications of climate change on food security and nutrition are of significant concern.”

Collective efforts are needed through a systematic approach by producers, distributors and consumers, together with the government, private sector, academia, non-governmental organizations, the UN and civil society to ensure food insecurity is reversed in the country, the agencies said.

“To achieve this transformation, we need to change policies, mindsets, behaviors and business models,” Meshack Malo, FAO Representative in South Sudan said.

“Our efforts in reducing the food gap and malnutrition are some of FAO’s interventions aimed at building a better South Sudan leaving no one behind.”

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