South Sudan


Famine was officially declared in parts of South Sudan in February 2017, affecting 100,000 people in Unity State. As of June 21, 2017, as a result of massive, intensive humanitarian efforts, famine is no longer officially occurring, although 45,000 people across three counties in Unity State and in Ayod County in Jonglei State are experiencing famine conditions. A further 1.7 million people in other parts of the country are on the brink of famine,an increase of almost 1 million people since February 2017. Throughout the country, 6 million people are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance, the highest number of people suffering from acute food shortages and hunger ever recorded in South Sudan. Donate Now >>
Photo: Andrew Parsons/i-Images for Action Against Hunger, South Sudan
Photo: Andrew Parsons/i-Images for Action Against Hunger, South Sudan
11.7 million
Human Development Index
169 (out of 188 countries ranked)
Our Team
149 employees
Program Start

People Helped in 2016: 580,433

People Received Nutritional Support 
People Accessed Safe Water and Sanitation 
People Gained Economic Self Sufficiency 

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: 720,000 people have fled to neighboring countries as refugees, and 1.69 million people have been uprooted internally.

In 2016, ongoing conflict—worsened by crop deficits, shortages of basic food staples, and inadequate rain—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 As of June 21, 2017, due to targeted, intensive humanitarian action, famine is no longer occurring in Unity State. However, the hunger crisis has worsened in other parts of the country. Today, 6 million people—more than half of the country's population—urgently require food assistance to meet their basic survival needs, and at least 45,000 people in conflict zones are facing famine conditions.  

Action Against Hunger first launched operations in South Sudan in 1985. We are currently meeting the urgent humanitarian needs of populations in four states: Jonglei, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, Warrap, and Central Equatoria (Juba).

What We Achieved in 2016

We responded to a massive nutrition and food crisis, providing 580,433 people with lifesaving humanitarian assistance.

Emergency Nutrition, Health, and Care Practices: 75,097

  • Mobilized expert emergency teams to save lives: Action Against Hunger mobilized its Multisectoral Emergency Team (MET) to deliver direct, specialized emergency interventions to treat and prevent undernutrition in extremely vulnerable communities in conflict areas.
  • Gathered critical data to identify populations in need: We deployed our Surveillance and Evaluation Team (SET) to assess the nutrition status of at-risk populations through specialized surveys, data analysis, and validation.
  • Provided treatment to 31,000 undernourished children: Our nutrition programs and health education services for pregnant women and new mothers helped improve the nutrition and survival of vulnerable children under the age of five.

Food Security and Livelihoods: 117,936

  • Partnered with displaced families to plant vegetable gardens for food and income:
  • Provided cash-for-work to meet urgent food needs

Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: 387,400

  • Promoted hygiene and prevented the spread of cholera: Our teams repaired and rebuilt water sources in cholera-affected areas, held mass cholera-awareness sessions, and trained local partners to respond to outbreaks.  
  • Ensured access to safe water and sanitation: To meet the immediate, short-term needs of people in crisis, we delivered emergency supplies of clean water and built emergency latrines. To meet longer-term needs, we built new latrines, pumps, and wells to provide sustainable sources of sanitation and clean water in communities with poor infrastructure.

South Sudan: Key Facts

GDP per capita: $$1,965
Population: 11.7 million
Area: 619,745 sq km (239,285 sq miles)
Life expectancy: 55.7
Child mortality: 99.2 per 1,000 live births
Undernutrition for children under five: 31.1%
Ranking in UN Human Development Index: 169 (out of 188)

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

Help us save lives in South Sudan and around the world

Our Partners

  • Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MAF) of South Sudan
  • Ministry of Animal Resources and Fisheries (MARF) of South Sudan
  • Ministry of Water (State Level)
  • MoH (Ministry of Health) of South Sudan
  • WFP (World Food Programme)