South Sudan

2018 to 2020 – Assignment to the United Nations World Food Programme.

Displacement is a frequent expression when discussing the South Sudanese civil war, a conflict that has torn this young nation apart since December 2013, only two years after its independence from Sudan. To this date, 3.7 million have been forced to flee from their homes seeking refuge in other regions or neighbouring countries. Once a promising prospective oil producer, the country is on the verge of economic breakdown with a trickle oil flowing from its fields. Prevailing insecurity impairs the peoples’ ability to produce minimal crops to sustain the population, forcing the Government to rely on imports for food.

Famine was detected in two remote regions of South Sudan in 2017. Thanks to rapid intervention by relevant international institutions, increased deterioration of this crisis was avoided. Nevertheless the severe levels of malnutrition have yet to subside: in January 2020, 7.5 million people are dependent on humanitarian assistance.

As one would expect, women and young girls suffer disproportionately the most from hunger and food insecurity. Unjust and anachronic cultural values, as well as decades of extreme violence – including the use of rape as a weapon of war – underpin deep gender inequalities. Men still hold a vast sway over most productive assets and positions of power whilst 80 percent of the country’s women remain illiterate, subject to domestic violence and forced into precocious marriage.

Food assistance is today absolutely essential to avoid a humanitarian disaster in South Sudan. WFP – The World Food Programme – presently provides life-saving support to millions of all parties in conflict and supplies food by road, river or air drops in most areas of the country since independence of the country in 2011 (WFP has been operating in Sudan since 1963). The focus of the task of WFP is to transform food assistance into a tool for peace building and future development. The World Food Programme is therefore engaging grassroots civil society organizations and empowering communities – with a special focus on women and girls – to foster increasing resilience and self-reliance.

WFP promotes enhanced resilience for smallholder farmers and farmers’ organizations in non-conflict areas by enhancing the building or repairing of infrastructure; providing adequate training in various fields, such as natural resources management, climate change adaptation, post-harvest storage, strengthening government capacities in early warning systems and disaster risk management. The World Food Programme assists communities to build and rehabilitate assets such as wells, flood control dykes and small irrigation schemes that should increase their abilities survive future shocks. WFP is also thinking about building long-term cadres for the country by providing food for school meals to encourage parents to not only send children to school but to keep them in the classroom, giving them hope and contributing for a better future.