Tuesday November 20, 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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Opium Cultivation Goes Down by 20% in Afghanistan: UN

It noted that opium poppy weeding and harvesting provided for the equivalent of up to 354,000 full-time jobs to rural areas in 2017.

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oPIUM CULTIVATION
In this April 11, 2016, photo, farmers harvest raw opium at a poppy field in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, Afghanistan. VOA

A new United Nations survey finds that opium cultivation in Afghanistan has decreased by 20 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, citing a severe drought and falling prices of dry opium at the national level.

The total opium-poppy cultivation area decreased to 263,000 hectares, from 328,000 hectares estimated in 2017, but it was
still the second highest measurement for Afghanistan since the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) began monitoring in 1994.

The potential opium production decreased by 29 percent to 6,400 tons from an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017.

The UNODC country representative, Mark Colhoun, while explaining factors behind the reduction told reporters in Kabul the farm-gate prices of dry opium at the harvest time fell to $94 per kilogram, the lowest since 2004.

Afghanistan, Opium cultivation
FILE – Afghan farmers collect raw opium as they work in a poppy field in Khogyani district of Jalalabad east of Kabul, Afghanistan, May 10, 2013. VOA

The decreases, in particular in the northern and western Afghan regions, were mainly attributed to the severe drought that hit the country during the course of the last year, he added.

“Despite these decreases, the overall area under opium-poppy cultivation is still the highest ever recorded. This is a clear challenge to security and safety for the region and beyond. It is also a threat to all countries to and through which these drugs are trafficked as well as to Afghanistan itself,” said Colhoun.

He warned that more high-quality low-cost heroin will reach consumer markets across the world, with increased consumption and related harms as a further likely consequence.

“The significant levels of opium-poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates will further fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” he said.

 

Afghanistan, Opium cultivation
Raw opium from a poppy head is seen at a poppy farmer’s field on the outskirts of Jalalabad, afghanistan. VOA

A new United Nations survey finds that opium cultivation in Afghanistan has decreased by 20 percent in 2018 compared to the previous year, citing a severe drought and falling prices of dry opium at the national level.

The total opium cultivation area decreased to 263,000 hectares, from 328,000 hectares estimated in 2017, but it was
still the second highest measurement for Afghanistan since the U.N. Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) began monitoring in 1994.

The potential opium production decreased by 29 percent to 6,400 tons from an estimated 9,000 tons in 2017.

The UNODC country representative, Mark Colhoun, while explaining factors behind the reduction told reporters in Kabul the farm-gate prices of dry opium at the harvest time fell to $94 per kilogram, the lowest since 2004.

The decreases, in particular in the northern and western Afghan regions, were mainly attributed to the severe drought that hit the country during the course of the last year, he added.

Opium cultivation
Afghan security personnel watch as flames and smoke rise after opium and narcotics are burned in a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan. VOA

“Despite these decreases, the overall area under opium-poppy cultivation is still the highest ever recorded. This is a clear challenge to security and safety for the region and beyond. It is also a threat to all countries to and through which these drugs are trafficked as well as to Afghanistan itself,” said Colhoun.

He warned that more high-quality low-cost heroin will reach consumer markets across the world, with increased consumption and related harms as a further likely consequence.

“The significant levels of opium-poppy cultivation and illicit trafficking of opiates will further fuel instability, insurgency and increase funding to terrorist groups in Afghanistan,” he said.

Colhoun noted that while there is no single explanation for the continuing high levels of opium-poppy cultivation, rule of law-related challenges such as political instability, lack of government control and security as well as corruption have been found to be among the main drivers of illicit cultivation.

The UNODC survey estimated that the total farm-gate value of opium production decreased by 56 percent to $604 million, which is equivalent to three percent of Afghanistan’s GDP, from $1.4 billion in 2017. The lowest prices strongly undermined the income earned from opium cultivation by farmers.

 Afghan security personnel watch as flames and smoke rise after opium and narcotics are burned in a ceremony in Kabul, Afghanistan
Field Of poppies, Opium. Pixabay

The study finds that 24 out of the 34 Afghan provinces grew the opium-poppy in 2018, the same number as in the previous year.

The survey found that 69 percent of the opium poppy cultivation took place in southern Afghanistan and the largest province of Helmand remained the leading opium-poppy cultivating region followed by neighboring Kandahar and Uruzgan and Nangarhar in the east.

It noted that poppy opium cultivation weeding and harvesting provided for the equivalent of up to 354,000 full-time jobs to rural areas in 2017.

A U.S. government agency, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction (SIGAR), has noted in its latest report that as of September 30, Washington’s counternarcotics-related appropriations for the country had reached almost $9 billion.

Also Read: The Elections in Afghanistan

“Despite the importance of the threat narcotics pose to reconstruction and despite massive expenditures for programs including poppy-crop eradication, drug seizures and interdictions, alternative-livelihood support, aviation support, and incentives for provincial governments, the drug trade remains entrenched in Afghanistan, and is growing,” said Sigar, which monitors U.S. civilian and military spendings in the country. (VOA)