Perseverance Despite Challenges: Our Commitment to Addressing Rising Hunger in South Sudan

One year ago, on February 20, 2017, famine was declared in parts of South Sudan, with 100,000 people in two counties in Unity State facing catastrophic hunger and imminent risk of death. 

The humanitarian community mobilized major, intensive aid efforts, and the famine declaration in Unity State was lifted in June 2017. 

However, according to a new alert from global experts issued last week, the hunger crisis affecting other regions of South Sudan has worsened dramatically. An estimated 40 percent more people are now facing acute hunger across the country than at the same time last year. In January, the “lean season” (the period between harvests when food supplies are at their lowest) began three months earlier than usual, which means families will have to endure a six-month hunger gap, making them extremely vulnerable and putting children under five at high risk of malnutrition. 

The latest data shows that 5.8 million people in South Sudan currently lack access to adequate, available, affordable food because of ongoing conflict, which has displaced two million people and disrupted livelihoods. Even more people are expected to suffer severe food shortages in the coming months unless they receive major, ongoing humanitarian assistance. 

Today, levels of acute malnutrition among children under the age of five are above emergency thresholds in many parts of the country. Action Against Hunger is a leading agency working to save the lives of malnourished children and to stop famine from returning in South Sudan.

At one of Action Against Hunger's nutrition sites in Malualkon, in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, South Sudan, children are screened for malnutrition.

Photo: Lys Arango for
Action Against Hunger, South Sudan


In the past year, Action Against Hunger reached an estimated 313,250 people across South Sudan. We have longstanding operations in three states (Jonglei, Northern Bahr el Ghazal, and Warrap), and our emergency teams were deployed to deliver assistance in Upper Nile, Lakes, Unity, Central, and Western Equatoria States. We also launched emergency nutrition programs in eight new sites to provide lifesaving treatment to acutely malnourished children. 

Our specialized multi-sector emergency teams were deployed multiple times in the past 12 months to support emergency assessments and deliver lifesaving assistance to communities in areas of South Sudan in urgent need but with little access to help. 

  • Food Security and Livelihoods:  55,669 people
    • Improved access to adequate food and income to meet the basic survival needs of the most vulnerable families
    • Delivered emergency food assistance through monthly cash transfers that allow families to purchase food at local markets 
    • Provided skills training and distributed essential tools and supplies to support the livelihoods of farmers and herders
  • Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene: 149,166 people 
    • Rehabilitated boreholes to improve community access to safe, clean drinking water
    • Built sanitary latrines in homes and public spaces 
    • Distributed hygiene kits and conducted hygiene awareness sessions to prevent the outbreak of waterborne diseases 
  • Nutrition and Health: 108,415 people 
    • Provided lifesaving treatment to acutely malnourished children under five years old as well as health services to pregnant women and breastfeeding mothers
    • Educated mothers and caregivers on healthy care and feeding practices to improve nutrition among infants and young children.

Action Against Hunger’s expert nutrition assessment teams also gathered and evaluated critical data to quantify the prevalence and severity of malnutrition among populations in at-risk areas of South Sudan.

Agawol, a mother and community volunteer, goes door-to-door in her neighborhood to screen children for malnutrition.

Photo: Lys Arango for
Action Against Hunger, South Sudan


As part of our nutrition programs, we train local health workers and community volunteers to screen children for malnutrition and refer them to our nutrition sites for treatment. This helps us ensure that we reach more children. 

Everywhere we work in South Sudan, our most powerful partners in the fight to end hunger are families and local community members. They are the leaders who will drive long-term change and ensure healthier futures for their children, despite the immense challenges they face. We learn from them every single day, and we are honored to work alongside them in solidarity.

Meet some of the change-makers in South Sudan who inspire us:

  • Agawol: A mother who brought her severely malnourished child for treatment to an Action Against Hunger nutrition site. Now, her daughter is healthy again, and Agawol has become an Action Against Hunger community nutrition volunteer, going door-to-door to screen her neighbor’s children for malnutrition. 
  • Regina: After her only biological child passed away at just two weeks old, Regina didn’t stop being a mother to the children of her community. She serves as a Lead Mother in one of Action Against Hunger’s mother-to-mother support groups, working to improve health among children and prevent malnutrition. 
  • David: An experienced medical doctor who left his job in South Sudan’s capital city of Juba to work as a volunteer to help people affected by the hunger crisis. Today, he serves as Action Against Hunger’s Roving Medical Doctor in Northern Bahr el Ghazal, where he trains local health workers and oversees our emergency nutrition programs. 
  • Achoc: After her child became acutely malnourished, Achoc learned about the connection between safe water, sanitation, and health. Resolved to make sure her children would not fall ill from malnutrition and waterborne disease again, she is educating her neighbors and building a latrine to improve sanitation and hygiene. 

Action Against Hunger is the world’s hunger specialist and leader in a global movement that aims to end life-threatening hunger for good within our lifetimes. For 40 years, the humanitarian and development organization has been on the front lines, treating and preventing hunger across nearly 50 countries. It served more than 21 million people in 2018 alone.