WFP to cut food aid to South Sudan over funding crunch

WFP to cut food aid to South Sudan over funding crunch

The United Nation’s (UN) World Food Program (WFP) warned Monday it will suspend food assistance for more than 100,000 displaced people in parts of South Sudan for three months from October due to funding shortages.

Matthew Hollingworth, representative and country director of the WFP in South Sudan, said the UN food agency requires an additional Ksh.16.9 billion (US$.154 million) to provide food assistance in sufficient quantities.

“If funding levels continue to drop, we may have no choice but to make further cuts as the needs of vulnerable communities continue to outpace available resources,” Hollingworth said in a statement issued in Juba.

The WFP said while generous contributions from donors have enabled it to reach millions in need with lifesaving assistance, many vulnerable people living in crisis areas continue to suffer from the highest levels of food insecurity and cannot survive without sustained food assistance.

It said as part of a prioritization exercise driven by funding crunch, some 106,000 people displaced in camps in Wau, Juba and Bor South will not receive food rations from October until the New Year.

The WFP said it will resume its monthly food assistance for internally displaced people in those camps from January to September 2022.

“Drastic times call for drastic measures. We are forced to take these painful decisions and stretch our limited resources to meet the critical needs of people who were on the brink of starvation and now risk slipping back into a catastrophe if their access to food diminishes,” Hollingworth said.

He said the three-month suspension is part of a broader reduction in food assistance that the WFP announced in April across all camps that affects 700,000 refugees and internally displaced people who now receive half the caloric contents of a WFP food ration.

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Food insecurity in South Sudan has increased in the last few years and now affects more than 60 percent of the country’s population, according to the UN.

In December last year, WFP said it needed Ksh.6.2 billion (US$57 million) to continue providing food and nutrition assistance to refugee population between January and June 2021 in Kenya.

Without new funds, WFP mulled halting all cash transfers starting in January and by March, over what it termed as fully depleted food stocks.

Most refugee families rely solely on WFP food to survive.

“WFP is facing a critical shortage of funds to finance food assistance to refugees living in the Dadaab and Kakuma camps and in Kalobeyei settlement,” said WFP Kenya Country Director Lauren Landis referring to the country’s three main refugee sites. “We have exhausted all resources and are frankly faced with a life-threatening crisis.”

In Dadaab and Kakuma camps, WFP provides almost 400,000 refugees with a mix of cash and food, but cash covers about 60 percent of staple cereals in their food basket.

A sharp reduction or complete stop in assistance could have far-reaching consequences on refugees’ health and nutrition— as well as on stability and security in the camps and surrounding communities. It follows other ration cuts over the past two years that have increased child and maternal malnutrition.

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Lawrence Baraza is a prolific writer with competencies in Digital Media, Print, and Broadcast. Baraza is also a Communication Practitioner currently spearheading Digital content on Metropol TV's Digital Desk.

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