People Helped in 2018: 302,117
In July 2011, South Sudan achieved independence from the Republic of Sudan and became the world’s newest country. It has vast oil reserves, and comprises one of the richest agricultural areas in Africa, despite having struggled for more than two decades with war and extreme poverty.
Although its independence was celebrated around the world with great hope, South Sudan is desperately underdeveloped, with very little basic infrastructure for education, health systems, safe water, functioning markets, or paved roads. About 80 percent of the population live in rural areas and rely on livestock and subsistence farming to survive. South Sudan was thrown back into a full-scale civil war in December 2013 after tensions erupted between government and opposition forces. The fragile country has become engulfed in a severe humanitarian crisis: two million people have fled to neighboring countries as refugees, and 1.9 million people have been uprooted internally.
Conflict—worsened by crop deficits, shortages of basic food staples, and inadequate rain—has contributed to unprecedented levels of hunger and acute undernutrition. In February 2017, famine was officially declared in two counties in Unity State, with 100,000 at risk of starvation. 45.2 percent of the country faced acute food insecurity at crisis levels or worse. A surge in assistance successfully averted famine, but the hunger emergency worsened. Acute malnutrition has increased across South Sudan, reaching critical levels in several areas.
In 2018, a revitalized peace process presented new opportunities. However, great challenges persist: years of conflict have left more than 7 million people in need of assistance and protection. Bureaucratic obstacles and violence against aid workers limit access and disrupt lifesaving programs.
Conflict pushed more people into hunger in 2018, and malnutrition rates remained high. 2 million people were internally displaced, and 2.3 million people have become refugees. The country is marked by excessive gender-based violence, declining economic opportunities and strained health centers. Half of all children are not attending school, and two-thirds of the population has no access to safe water.
Action Against Hunger's Work in 2018
In 2018, we provided nutrition and health services to more than 178,000 people, including treatment of more than 46,000 children under five. We empowered mothers to screen their children, improve care and feeding practices for infants, and prevent malnutrition.
Our cash-for-assets programme provided assistance to more than 5,000 families. We improved access to water and sanitation for 110,854 people and rehabilitated 115 water points. We deployed our multi-sector emergency teams to hard-to-reach areas six times, screening 46,670 and treating 3,250 acutely malnourished children. We conducted ten surveys to measure malnutrition.
The preliminary results of research combining acute malnutrition treatment protocols provided practical evidence of better ways to fight undernutrition. In partnership with the World Food Programme, we piloted a digital system to manage malnutrition treatment and community outreach. We conducted gender analyses and safety audits to account for the impact of gender-based violence on nutrition, and to improve service delivery.
This year, I interacted with and witnessed the needs of the most vulnerable communities in South Sudan. It isn’t easy to be a humanitarian worker. But to me, it is a privilege. Many people have nowhere to turn, if not to humanitarian aid. Their expectations—and the sense of responsibility we feel—are huge.”
—Victor Mallelah, Action Against Hunger Emergency Nutrition Survey Program Manager, South Sudan