Without its farmers, South Sudan remains perilously close to famine

Without its farmers, South Sudan remains perilously close to famine

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  • The conflict that began in December 2013 has disrupted every layer of life

JUBA, South Sudan-  (October 16, 2014)- This year’s World Food Day celebrates family farming but aid organization CARE says there’s little to celebrate in South Sudan where many of the country’s farmers have been displaced in the fighting that erupted in December 2013.

More than 1.4 million South Sudanese have been displaced by the conflict. An estimated 450,000 people have crossed into neighboring Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan and Uganda in search of food and to escape the violence.

Farms have been abandoned, fighting has closed roads that carried goods, and destroyed towns that hosted once vibrant markets. Farming families have sold their livestock, or eaten the seeds meant for planting to keep away the gnawing hunger.

“Family farms are an important part of rural development,” says Justus Liku, CARE’s Senior Advisor for Emergency Food and Nutrition Security. “In countries like South Sudan, they play a critical role in providing food security and livelihoods, managing natural resources, and building civil society through farmer organizations.”

“South Sudan should not be food insecure,” said Mr. Liku. “The country is blessed with vast tracts of arable land, an enviable water source in the Nile River, a perfect climate for growing a wide range of crops, and the human resources tend them.”

“Prior to the current crisis, more than 90 percent of the country’s estimated 10 million people earned their living from agriculture, mainly through smallholder, family-owned farms producing staple crops like sorghum, and by herding cattle.”

Although famine has been narrowly avoided this year, more than 2 million people are facing severe food insecurity. Severe acute malnutrition among children under the age of 5 has doubled since January and 50,000 are at high risk of dying.

Since the outbreak of violence, CARE has provided assistance to more than 300,000 people across South Sudan’s three hardest-hit states of Unity, Upper Nile and Jonglei. CARE is providing seeds and tools, as well as assistance in nutrition, emergency water, sanitation, hygiene services, peace building and gender based violence.

About CARE:

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 www.care.org.

Media Contact:  Holly Frew        +1.770.842.6188                hfrew@care.org

Woman receives seeds to plant after being displaced by South Sudan conflict. PHOTO: Josh Estey/CARE