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WFP paves the way forward for anticipatory action in South Sudan

WFP South Sudan has hosted the country’s first anticipatory action workshop, in partnership with FAO, to map out a way forward for the initiative across the country.

South Sudan is on the frontlines of the climate crisis with extensive floods and drought driving food insecurity and malnutrition. Multi-year floodwaters have failed to recede across large parts of the country while other areas struggle with the encroaching Horn of Africa drought. Families have lost homes and livelihoods, often with little warning, creating increased humanitarian needs as resourcing fails to keep pace.

WFP convened the workshop on anticipatory action to work with government, partners, and stakeholders to continue the shift from reactive responses to proactive.

Although anticipatory action is part of WFP programming worldwide, it is a fairly new concept in South Sudan. While some elements, such as risk assessments, information dissemination, and response are already being done to some extent, monitoring and predicting climate events is an area that needs significant investment and the other areas need strengthening.

“One of the challenges in South Sudan is that many of the areas that are most vulnerable to severe climate shocks are also the areas that are the least developed with few roads or other infrastructure,” said Mary-Ellen McGroarty, Country Director for WFP South Sudan. “There needs to be investment in infrastructure and investment and capacity building for the South Sudan Meteorological Department so they are able to monitor and predict climate shocks. This will allow communities, government, and humanitarian organisations prepare for climate shocks, take action before they hit, and, ultimately, lessen the impact of these events.”

The workshop drew on experiences from neighbouring countries to map what anticipatory action will look like in South Sudan. Experience from Somalia and Ethiopia showed the criticality of revising policies to create an environment in which anticipatory action initiatives could be implemented.

Plans are now underway to integrate anticipatory action into the national disaster risk management strategies to provide the government with a mandate to set aside and mobilise resources for disaster risk reduction and anticipatory action. To move the initiative forward, WFP will complete a feasibility assessment, following this anticipatory action and climate services programmes will be designed.

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