[Dehai-WN] (Reuters): S.Sudan faces food shortages due to violence, rain

[Dehai-WN] (Reuters): S.Sudan faces food shortages due to violence, rain

From: Berhane Habtemariam <Berhane.Habtemariam_at_gmx.de_at_dehai.org>
Date: Fri, 23 Sep 2011 22:14:17 +0200

S.Sudan faces food shortages due to violence, rain

Fri Sep 23, 2011 1:03pm GMT

By Hereward Holland

JUBA, Sept 23 (Reuters) - South Sudan faces severe food shortages because
the new African nation will produce less than half the food it needs to feed
its population this year due to heavy rains and widespread violence, the
United Nations said.

South Sudan won independence from Khartoum on July 9 under a 2005 agreement
that ended decades of civil war. But it has been struggling to end tribal
and rebel violence in several parts of a country the size of France.

The number of South Sudanese requiring food assistance from aid agencies
will rise next year to 1.2 million people from 970,000 now because
agricultural output has been hit by the violence and rain, according to the

"It's not worrying, it's alarming," Lise Grande, U.N. humanitarian
coordinator for South Sudan, told Reuters in an interview in the southern
capital Juba late on Thursday. The country has a population of 8 million.

In a best-case scenario South Sudan will produce 420,000 to 500,000 tonnes
of food in 2011, a deficit of more than half a million tonnes, according to
the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO). In 2010, the food deficit
was 300,000.

"The situation in the first year of statehood is extremely alarming.
Progress on state-building agenda, peace-building and reconciliation is at
risk if we can't get the food security situation under control," Grande

Violence in two border states in north Sudan and the closure of several
border crossings to the south has blocked roads and commercial traffic to
the south, choking off supplies.

At the same time 341,000 southerners have returned home since October from
Sudan where they were treated as foreigners after independence.

Around 300,000 people have abandoned their homes and farms sthis year due to
tribal or rebel violence that has killed around 3,000, Grande said. "If you
add all that up, you're looking at a very dangerous situation," she said.

"Unless steps are taken right now to cover that (food) deficit, we could see
a sharp increase in acute and severe acute malnutrition and a sharp increase
in the number of households that are food-insecure," Grande said.

FAO officials said a drought in the Horn of Africa has increased the price
of food in the landlocked nation.

"We made several gains and an overall improvement (in food production) in
2010," said Mtendere Mphatso, an official at FAO, referring to the output of
700,000 tonnes last year.

"All these gains are being reversed and the key drivers are insecurity and
erratic rainfall."

Being much less developed than the north, oil-producing South Sudan needs
rapidly to build infrastructure and state institutions while trying to feed
its population.

The U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) said it was facing a budget shortfall of
$21 million, or 13,500 tonnes, to fund food assistance in South Sudan.

"We are facing a serious food and budget shortfall which affects our ability
to reach all those who need our assistance," WFP spokeswoman Amor Almagro
said. (Reporting by Hereward Holland in Juba)

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