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5.5 million S. Sudanese facing severe food insecurity: IOM

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UN peacekeeper keeps watch inside a Protection of Civilians sites, in Juba as a UN Security Council delegation meets with the IDPs on 3 September 2016 (UNMISS Photo)

June 18, 2017 (WAU) – The International Organization for Migration (IOM) in South Sudan has estimated that 5.5 million people in South Sudan are facing severe food insecurity and malnutrition due to the conflict and the country’s collapsing economy.

Many families coping mechanisms are declining because the communities are facing displacement and reduced access to crops, markets and basic services.

In a statement released during the weekend, the IOM has announced that the Government of Japan is providing USD 1 million to support the IOM’s efforts to mitigate the impact of the food insecurity on families across South Sudan through Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) assistance.

The crisis is particularly severe in Unity region, where an estimated 100,000 people are facing famine conditions. However, people are affected in parts of every state and many are extremely vulnerable. More regions in the country are at risk of deteriorating into emergency or famine conditions.

The lack of safe drinking water, limitation to sanitation and health care facilities and poor hygiene practices have left these places vulnerable, while populations with facing food shortages are at greater risk.

“The lack of access to safe drinking water is one of the causes of malnutrition,” explains Antonio Torres, a Coordinator at IOM WASH.

Torres went on to say that IOM wants to promote good hygiene and sanitation practices in all communities, primarily the ones with food insecurities.

“Individuals living in areas facing acute food insecurity often endure weakened immune systems due to poor nutrition. IOM undertakes efforts to both increase access to safe water and ensure the promotion of good hygiene and sanitation practices to safeguard these communities against further health risks, including the spread of waterborne diseases,” he said.

Through Japanese support, IOM is procuring critical basic household items to ensure that relief agencies have access to humanitarian WASH supplies. In food-insecure and famine-affected areas, IOM aims to help its’ partners reach an estimated 50,000 people with water storage and treatment supplies, 21,000 women and girls with menstrual hygiene management kits, and 20,000 people through improved sanitation facilities.

The project also supports IOM’s emergency response and preparedness teams, which are currently in Kapoeta, Eastern Equatoria, where thousands are vulnerable to a cholera outbreak that began in late April 2017. As populations in Kapoeta are facing severe food insecurity, a cholera outbreak can be catastrophic in areas where individuals already experience malnutrition, poor WASH conditions and limited access to health facilities.

IOM further said their ground teams are working to increase communities’ access to safe drinking water through borehole repairs and the distribution of water treatment supplies, as well as improving hygiene and sanitation through hygiene promotion activities.

The Japanese funding has also provided a boost to IOM’s rapid response health teams, which are able to react quickly to health needs and emergencies, such as disease outbreaks across the country. The team recently responded to a cholera outbreak and acute primary health-care needs in Jonglei’s Ayod County, where families face crisis-level food insecurity.

Over three weeks, the team conducted over 3,300 medical consultations and reached over 8,400 people with health and hygiene promotion messages.

IOM’s emergency health and WASH responses are also supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) Office of US Foreign Disaster Assistance, the UK Department for International Development (DFID), the EC European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations, the UN Central Emergency Response Fund and the South Sudan Humanitarian Fund.

(ST)

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