Malnutrition Rates Reach Critical Levels as South Sudan faces Further Food Crisis

Malnutrition Rates Reach Critical Levels as South Sudan Faces Further Food Crisis

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Malnutrition rates in some parts of South Sudan have reached critical levels according to CARE. 

JUBA, South Sudan (May 27, 2015) — Recent data collected in Mayom County in Unity state classifies one out of every three children as acutely malnourished, with a high prevalence of stunting in children under the age of two years. A Global Acute Malnutrition (GAM) rate of 30 percent was recorded in Mayom in May, double the humanitarian standard of 15 percent. In neighboring Abiemnom County, GAM rates have reached as high as 26 percent, and 23.4 percent in Pariang County in the states’ north. Unity is one of South Sudan’s most conflict affected states, with tens of thousands of people displaced since fighting began in December 2013.

Across South Sudan, more than 3.8 million people were unable to meet their food needs in April. The figure is expected to rise to 4.6 million by July, according to the latest results of the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC), the tool used to monitor the status of the food crisis in South Sudan.

The rise in malnutrition and food insecurity comes as South Sudan’s economy is showing increasing strain after 17 months of conflict and the decline in global oil prices. Inflation continues to rise with prices for some food staples increasing by as much as 69 percent in some parts of the country.

“We're seeing malnutrition rates rise in these counties for a number of reasons, all of them to do with the conflict. These communities no longer have the resources to grow their own food, their local markets have ceased to function, and they’re cut off from assistance by fighting or seasonal flooding,” said Mr. Joel Makii, CARE’s Nutrition Advisor in South Sudan. “CARE is stepping up its efforts in all three counties,” continued Mr. Makii. “We’re working together with other agencies to distribute food to these communities throughout the coming rainy season. We’ll also run a supplementary feeding program for children under 3 years, in addition to the regular nutrition programs we run at our clinics.”

In addition to the longstanding resilience of the South Sudanese people, humanitarian interventions from agencies such as CARE have saved thousands of lives. But with international donor support falling far short of requirements, many humanitarian agencies have been forced to do more with less.

“The role of humanitarian agencies in this crisis is more critical now than ever before, yet CARE has been forced to close programs because we no longer have the funding to run them,” said Ms. Aimee Ansari, CARE’s Country Director in South Sudan. “We’re now making cuts to our health and sanitation programs in order to provide food and nutrition assistance in the coming months.”

“We no longer talk much about peace,” continued Ansari. “Instead we try to figure out how we can meet the growing demands for our nutrition and health services. Yet peace is what this country needs most of all.”

About CARE in South Sudan 

Since the outbreak of violence, CARE has provided assistance to more than 600,000 people across South Sudan’s three hardest-hit states of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei. CARE’s is providing assistance in health, nutrition, peace building and gender based violence. CARE has been operating in Southern Sudan since 1993, initially providing humanitarian relief to internally displaced people in Western Equatoria. The signing of the Comprehensive Peace Agreement in 2005 allowed CARE to expand into Jonglei and Upper Nile states to support returnees from the refugee camps, and the organization has since broadened its operations to include development programs.

Founded in 1945, CARE is a leading humanitarian organization fighting global poverty. CARE has more than six decades of experience helping people prepare for disasters, providing lifesaving assistance when crisis hits, and helping communities recover after the emergency has passed. CARE places special focus on women and children, who are often disproportionately affected by disasters. To learn more, visit

For interviews, contact: Nicole Harris,; 404-735-0871 (cell)


A mother holds her son outside the CARE Nutrition Center in South Sudan. © 2014 Josh Estey/CARE