The United Nations and the South Sudan transitional government on Friday launched the parliamentary alliance for food security and nutrition to advance strategies on the right to adequate food and promotion of investments in food and nutrition security.
The forum will enable the Transitional National Legislative Assembly (TNLA) to perform critical role in ensuring legislation, resource allocation and oversight, all of which are essential for raising food security and nutrition as a national priority.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP), Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) are supporting the parliamentary forum to advocate for budgetary increment and investments in agriculture, food security and nutrition.
“With about two-thirds of the country still facing acute levels of food insecurity, there is much work to be done, and everyone needs to be on board. The launch of the South Sudan Parliamentary Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition signals full engagement of the legislative arm of government,” said Meshack Malo, FAO Representative in South Sudan in a joint statement issued in Juba.
He added that support from lawmakers will be significant in highlighting and advocating for much needed investment in agriculture, food security and nutrition.
The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) shows there are 7.76 million people facing crisis or worse levels of food insecurity and 1.4 million malnourished children.
Hamida Lasseko, the UNICEF Representative in South Sudan, hailed the legislators’ commitment to advancing good nutrition in South Sudan.
“The parliamentarians are crucial partners in the fight to reduce poverty and malnutrition, given their legislative, budget allocation and policy oversight roles,” said Lasseko.
“Ensuring better food and nutrition policies and frameworks in legislation with sufficient budget to achieve improved nutrition outcomes would have very substantial socio-economic returns,” she added.
South Sudan continues to grapple with persistent food and nutrition insecurity stemming largely from a combination of multiyear climate shocks, conflict, and socio-economic insecurity.
“We have seen food insecurity rise to alarming levels, where two thirds of the population in South Sudan is facing acute levels of hunger as the climate crisis exacerbates high levels of food insecurity caused by the continuing conflict and the global food crisis,” said Adeyinka Badejo, acting Country Director for WFP in South Sudan.
Badejo said that climate adaptation and building resilience is becoming increasingly critical to overcome recurring shocks vulnerable communities continue to face.
“The launch of this alliance is timely as it is vital that access to food security and adequate nutrition is enshrined in legislation so that all families are able to provide their children the best start in life,” she said.
In South Sudan, 28.5 per cent of women of reproductive age are suffering from acute malnutrition and 40 per cent of reproductive age women in the country are anemic, jeopardizing pregnancy outcome, with significant negative impact on survival and nutrition status of the newborn.
Jemma Nunu Kumba, Speaker of the TNLA, said the parliamentary alliance will empower lawmakers to address policy gaps and legislation focusing on the advancement of food security and nutrition, scaling up budgetary allocation and investments.
She said that food security and good nutrition are part of South Sudan’s top priorities.
In addition, Kumba noted that adequate food will spur economic growth, employment, industrial base and usher in a vibrant country.