South Sudan conflict: Malnutrition threatens 1.25 million children

Deadly clashes and floods have interrupted the nation’s main harvests. World Vision is operating nutrition programs for malnourished children in northern South Sudan.

By Chris Huber, World Vision U.S.
Updated February 26, 2014 at 09:00am PST

Malnutrition is escalating in conflict-torn South Sudan, the United Nations warns.

About 1.25 million children under the age of 5 are threatened by malnutrition and are in dire need of emergency nutrition services between now and June.





Floods, violence interrupt harvest

Conflict flared up between government and opposition forces in December, killing thousands in South Sudan and displacing more than 716,000 people within the oil-rich region. Another 156,000 people have fled to the neighboring African nations of Kenya, Uganda, and Ethiopia.

These deadly clashes have interrupted the nation’s main harvests of sorghum, corn, and groundnut and severed food supply lines to areas already weakened by food insecurity.



Violence forced families to flee without their harvested crops, much of which was eventually destroyed or looted, the Famine Early Warning System Network reports.

 Floods last fall also took away months of potential food stocks, hampering people’s livelihoods.

An estimated 78 percent of people in rural South Sudan rely on farming for income, according to the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization.



‘We didn’t harvest anything this year’

Two-year-old Lual Akol’s family is among them. They were desperately low on food and money, and the toddler needed something to eat.

“We didn’t harvest anything this year,” Lual’s mother, Awich, said in November, a month before the fighting escalated. “I have been selling firewood in Kuajok town to earn some cash, which I use to buy food.”



Therapeutic nutritional interventions save tiny lives

World Vision is operating nutrition programs for malnourished children in northern South Sudan. There, Lual received a supply of Plumpy’Nut®, a nutrient-rich, peanut-based paste, which aid workers say helped restore his health.

“It will be difficult for Lual’s mother to find food to buy in the local market even if she had any money,” says Abraham Nhial Wei, a World Vision staff member in South Sudan.

 World Vision has helped at least 36,000 children like Lual.

The agency also has provided more than 30,000 people with food rations and household supplies in Upper Nile state and food and survival kits in Kakuma refugee camp northwestern Kenya, near the border with South Sudan.



The international community, including the United States, is pressing for peace talks in South Sudan to resume. There has been no word on when that will be.

Learn more

Two ways you can help

  • Pray for children and families affected by the fighting in South Sudan. Pray that the peace process would bring a permanent end to the hostilities and that humanitarian organizations like World Vision would be able to meet the needs of displaced people. Check out our South Sudan prayer guide at World Vision magazine.
  • Make a one-time donation to help meet the needs of vulnerable children and families in South Sudan. Your gift will help provide basic food and nutrition supplies, as well as healthcare, clean water, shelter, and protection interventions for families in need.

Highlights

  • Fighting broke out on December 15 in South Sudan, resulting in thousands of deaths and more than 870,000 people displaced from their homes.
  • Among that number, nearly 156,000 have fled to neighboring countries. Their immediate needs include food, shelter, water, and cooking and household supplies.
  • About 1.25 million children under the age of 5 are threatened by malnutrition and are in dire need of emergency nutrition services between now and June.
  • World Vision is operating nutrition programs for malnourished children in northern South Sudan.

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