Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

How to Help South Sudan: Surviving on the Frontlines of the Climate Crisis

World Food Program USA
Published April 19, 2023

Did you see ABC’s World News Tonight with David Muir, ABC’s Good Morning America or ABC’s Nightline?

The people of South Sudan are suffering from historic, overlapping drought and floods caused by the climate crisis, and ABC’s reporting is must-watch TV for understanding the human toll it’s taken. The United Nations World Food Program (WFP) understands this better than anyone, and that’s why we’re on the ground delivering critical food relief and long-term solutions.


Here’s how you can support our work and the people of South Sudan:

What’s Happening in South Sudan?

Climate extremes are causing erratic weather patterns in Sub-Saharan Africa; droughts, floods and storms are more frequent and intense than ever before.
South Sudan is on the frontlines of this climate crisis, and millions of its citizens are living with the gruesome daily reality.

South Sudan is heating up twice as fast as the global average rate, which is causing widespread drought and four consecutive years of flooding. It’s a double-edged sword of drowning and drying that’s made life for farming and pastoralist communities nearly impossible since 2019. Too much rain in some regions and not enough in others has hindered their ability to grow food and raise animals.

The country’s wetlands, known as The Sudd, have permanently expanded into surrounding farmlands and pastures, thereby drowning crops, killing livestock en masse and forcing millions of people from their homes.

Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

Four years of consecutive flooding in South Sudan is causing a hunger crisis. Nyaruan and her one-year-old son Chuong, in their maize plantation destroyed by the floods. “Our farm was affected by the floods. We planted maize in June but in July everything was under the water. We lost all the crops.”

Frequent flood zone surveys in the worst-hit parts of South Sudan have made one thing clear: The waters are not receding. At least not fast enough for the land to dry out, for waterlogged crops to recover or for displaced families to return to their homes.

These climate disasters have arrived on top of ongoing violence from South Sudan’s civil war, causing a humanitarian disaster and hunger crisis.

Learn more about South Sudan >

How is Global Warming Affecting Hunger in South Sudan?

The people of South Sudan are experiencing their hungriest year ever with 70% of the population (8.3 million people) expected to face hunger during the peak of the lean season. The consequences of inaction in South Sudan will be measured in the loss of lives and livelihoods on an unconscionable scale.

These are the 10 hungriest countries in the world >

“We’ve been in famine prevention mode all year and have staved off the worst outcomes, but this is not enough,” warned Makena Walker, Acting Country Director for the U.N. World Food Programme in South Sudan. “South Sudan is on the frontlines of the climate crisis and day in, day out families are losing their homes, cattle, fields and hope to extreme weather. Without humanitarian food assistance, millions more will find themselves in an increasingly dire situation and unable to provide even the most basic food for their families.”

Who is Suffering Most from Climate Extremes in South Sudan?

Rural communities in South Sudan are the most impacted by climate extremes, and more than three-quarters of the country’s population lives outside urban centers. During the normal rainy season, most of the roads, especially in rural areas, are completely impassable. But when flooding occurs, the situation worsens and these communities become even more isolated. As a result children can’t get to school, people can’t get to work and food aid can’t be delivered.

Photo: WFP/Eulalia Berlanga

Collapsed bridge in South Sudan due to extreme flooding. WFP depends on that bridge to transport food. Roads connecting different villages and refugee camps have also been blocked by the floods, cutting off essential supply routes and therefore affecting the local market.

Extreme weather also has an outsized effect on farmers and their ability to produce food. Over the past three years, the harvests lost in South Sudan due to massive floods would have fed how many people for up to eight months. Instead, acres upon acres of crops were destroyed time and time again. Initial studies from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) suggest that about 170,000 acres of land (about twice the area of Austin, Texas) have been damaged and 800,000 farm animals have died so far this year due to floods.

Learn more about climate change and hunger >

The devastating effect on families’ livelihoods can last generations. Those without the means to cope with climate extremes will face the greatest burden.


What Are the Needs in South Sudan?

Most urgently, people need drinkable water and food. In any emergency situation, hunger and hydration are the most pressing needs.

However, the effects of climate change are a reality of people in South Sudan. There will continue to be more floods in the future. Until we can reduce our impact on climate change, people in South Sudan need the tools, training and resources to adapt.

To unlock South Sudan’s future, we must support farming systems and family farmers who live off the land. Even in situations as complex as South Sudan, farming communities and local food producers can thrive in the face of climate change if given the resources and opportunities.

How Is WFP Building Long-Term Solutions in South Sudan?

During disasters like this, the U.N. World Food Programme delivers immediate food relief to survivors as quickly as possible – typically within 72 hours.

Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

A WFP’ SHERP crossing flooded areas in South Sudan. WFP is doing whatever it takes to reach flood survivors in with critical aid.

In addition to emergency food aid, the U.N. World Food Programme is helping communities withstand future extreme weather events in a number of different ways. First, by helping to build protective dykes around areas at risk of flooding. Second, we are working alongside the people we serve to salvage roads and arterial travel routes.

Third, while training participants to build infrastructure like roads, dams, ponds and irrigation systems, we also provide them with food – known as our Food for Assets program. This skills-centered approach has additional benefits like promoting nutrition, gender equality and social cohesion. For example, having a reliable water source can prevent clashes between pastoralists and landowners.

While tremendous challenges lie ahead as vast swathes of land remain waterlogged and hundreds of thousands of people remain displaced, the U.N. World Food Programme is working hard to meet immediate needs while developing long-term sustainable solutions.

How Can I Help People in South Sudan?

Extreme flooding caused by climate change is hurting communities in South Sudan, but with your help, we can deliver food directly relief and build resilience in South Sudan.

Your donation will be used directly meet the needs of climate victims in South Sudan. You can help save a life and make a long-lasting impact for decades to come.