Saturday April 21, 2018

Drought and Economic collapse might lead to Famine: Fleeing is the Only Option for People in South Sudan

The civil war that erupted two years ago has reduced the production of oil by about a third in the country

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Already starving Image Source:Henry Wilkins/Al Jazeera
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  • A region of South Sudan has recently entered “phase 4”, an “emergency” on the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) scale
  • The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) in South Sudan currently has a shortfall of $106m in its food distribution budget
  • 38,000 have left the region surrounding Kanjak to Sudan where prospects for families to feed themselves are said to be better

Kanjak, South Sudan- With thousands of people killed and almost two million displaced in a civil conflict that erupted in late 2013, South Sudan has disintegrated into chaos. Apart from violence that continues to strike this country, to make things worse, recent analysis of the situation says that the parts of the country are just weeks away from a famine.

Northern Bahr el Ghazal, a region of South Sudan close to the border with its neighbor Sudan is usually self-sufficient in food, but because of drought in parts of the country, and an economic collapse , it is unable to provide for itself this year, 2016.

According to the Aljazeera report, South Sudan has recently entered “phase 4”, an “emergency” on the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) scale. What it means is that even with any humanitarian assistance at least one in five households in the area have large food consumption gaps resulting in very high acute malnutrition and excess mortality or extreme loss of livelihood assets that will lead to food consumption gaps in the short term.

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Image Source :Henry Wilkins/Al Jazeera

South Sudan depends largely on imports. The sharp increases in the prices of staple foods were due to the depreciation of the South Sudanese pound. The families are reliant on buying food from the market where prices have risen sharply, while their livelihoods have rapidly declined.

The economy of South Sudan is largely dependent on oil exports as it has sub-Saharan Africa’s third-biggest reserves. The civil war that erupted two years ago has reduced the production of oil by about a third in the country. It has also been  badly affected by plummeting oil prices internationally.

The UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) in South Sudan currently has a shortfall of $106m in its food distribution budget. With no help underway, fleeing seems to be the only option.

38,000 have left the region surrounding Kanjak – known as Aweil East to Sudan, where prospects for families to feed themselves are said to be better. According to the WFP, since February about 7.6 percent of the population has left.

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In the past the UN has provided residents with sheets of corrugated steel, used as an alternative to the traditional thatched roofing.

Now, many of the houses lie empty with gaping holes where the roof once was.

“When people decide to leave the village, they roll up the sheets and sell them for a few pounds. Some houses even have mounds of sand piled outside, the graves of their former inhabitants. Malnutrition is the primary cause of death,” explains Chout to Al Jazeera.

-prepared by Ajay Krishna, an intern at NewsGram. Twitter: @ajkrish14

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‘The Last Animals’ Sheds Light on Rhino, Elephant Extinction

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The Last Animals
Fatu and Najin, left, the only two female northern white rhinos left in the world, graze where they are kept for observation, at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia county in Kenya, March 2, 2018. VOA

The death this month of 45-year-old Sudan, the last male northern white rhino on the planet, rings the alarm on the imminent extinction of other endangered animals.

The news also gives a renewed urgency to Kate Brooks’ documentary The Last Animals, about the threat poaching poses to the dwindling populations of rhinos and elephants.

In an interview with the Voice of America, filmmaker Kate Brooks spoke about the impact of poachers on the remaining rhinos. “Southern White Rhino population is around 20,000. With Northern Whites, the number is down to three, and the last male, Sudan, is hovering around the natural age of death and not in very good health.”

The day after this interview, Sudan died.

Sudan, the world’s last remaining male northern white rhinoceros, and his keeper at Ol Pejeta conservancy, Laikipia Plateau, Kenya, April 28, 2016. The conservancy is home to the last three white rhinos on Earth.
Sudan, the world’s last remaining male northern white rhinoceros, and his keeper at Ol Pejeta conservancy, Laikipia Plateau, Kenya, April 28, 2016. The conservancy is home to the last three white rhinos on Earth. VOA

Kate Brooks’ film The Last Animals was one of the 130 films showcased at the Environmental Film Festival in the nation’s capital. According to its Director of Programming, Brad Forder, Brooks’ film fit right in with the festival’s theme this year on Stories from the Frontlines, about environmental heroes, who are protecting the planet, wildlife, and endangered species. In the case of The Last Animals, the heroes are the park rangers trying to protect the dwindling herds of rhinos and elephants in African national parks.

Brooks says in the past ten years, more than a thousand rangers have been killed in clashes with poachers in conservancies and parks across Africa. She filmed deadly encounters at Kenya’s Garamba National Park.

She explained, “The decision to go to the Garamba National Park was really based on the fact that it is a place where there is a true intersection with the ivory trade and terrorism. That is the last place the white northern rhinos lived in the wild, and it is the very front lines of the ivory wars where people, poachers, and rangers, are being killed.”

The superstitious belief that rhino horn is an aphrodisiac or can cure cancer makes it the world’s most expensive animal commodity, and, in many parts of the world, it funds terrorist organizations. Despite an international ban on trade in ivory and rhino horn, Brooks says illegal trading continues, particularly in Asia.

the last animals
Najin (L) and her daughter Patu, the last two northern white rhino females, lie in their enclosure at the Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Laikipia National Park, Kenya March 7, 2018. VOA

“While filming in Vietnam, when we were boarding our flight to China, there was lots of individuals just filling up their suitcases, putting ivory (jewelry) on, maybe covering it up with their clothes but getting on the flight and walking straight through customs.”

Brooks’ film, The Last Animals, advocates stricter measures worldwide against that trade. She also hopes that documentaries like hers will inform people of the devastating consequences of rhino horn and ivory trading.

“I think the global consciousness is rising. Domestic ivory bans are going into effect and while South Africa might be one of the few countries left in the world where it’s okay to trade rhino horn domestically and be a country that’s still pushing to trade ivory internationally, increasingly, nobody wants it.”

Trophy, a documentary by Christina Clusiau and Shaul Schwarz, looks at South Africa’s policies, making the case that only legalized rhino horn “breeding,” which means trimming the horns off the animals every few years, can stop poaching and save rhinos. “That’s kind of the idea of utilizing animals in this ‘if it pays, it stays’ way,” says Schwarz. “Now, is that the answer? I don’t know. I’m here to raise questions.”

The Last Animals
In this photo taken, Aug. 19, 2016, a herd of elephants swim and drink water in the Kruger National Park, South Africa. VOA

One of the advocates of legalized rhino horn trade showcased in Trophy is South African farmer John Hume.

In the documentary, he holds a horn and explains, “On the black market, the retail value of this horn would be a quarter million dollars. The operation is painless. It will take two years before you guys do the same procedure again. All I need is for it to be legal.” To back up his position, he points out, “Give me one animal that has gone extinct while farmers are breeding it and making money out of it.”

Brooks disagrees. “South Africa recently legalized the domestic rhino horn trade. I don’t think it’s a solution. It’s actually creating the message that somehow it’s okay again. And all of that aside, there is also the issue of, is it humane? To even treat an animal in that way?’ One of the things you see in The Last Animals is that sometimes animals can be sedated and they don’t always wake up.”

While the debate continues, endangered animals die. In the past ten years, poachers have killed 150,000 elephants. Brooks says, the year she was born, in Garamba National Park alone, there were 22,000 elephants. Today, only 1200 remain. The numbers are bleaker for the northern white rhinos. After Sudan’s death, only two females remain. VOA