Image depicting Severe Hunger in South Sudan
Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

Severe Hunger in South Sudan

A Deadly Mix of Civil War & Extreme Weather

More than half of South Sudan’s population – 7.2 million people – will face severe food insecurity at the height of this year’s annual hunger season. The country’s humanitarian situation was dire even before the coronavirus crisis – and a looming invasion of desert locusts. All of this in a country that’s still torn apart by years of conflict and struggling to recover from one of its worst droughts in recent memory. Now, COVID-19 threatens to push millions of families over the edge.

On the Brink of Famine

October 2020

Torrential rain causes devastating flooding, severely impacting 700K people. Conflict worsens, more families are displaced, and there are pockets of near-famine conditions. 1.6M more people need food assistance.

Photo: WFP/Musa Mahadi

July 2020

July 9th, 2020 marks the 9-year anniversary of South Sudan becoming an independent country. Sadly, the country remains in crisis, with four million people displaced by ongoing civil war and six million dependent on humanitarian aid. The U.N. World Food Programme is actively feeding five million of them.

Photo: WFP/Jonathan Dumont

April 2020

With only four confirmed coronavirus cases, South Sudan is hoping to avoid catastrophe. With its poor health care systems and rampant poverty, an outbreak there would be devastating. The pandemic could increase poverty sharply, making it even harder for the country to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals by 2030.

Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

November 2019

After months of drought, the parched soil can't absorb sudden heavy rains. Downpours have caused widespread flooding, and tens of thousands of people have lost their homes. Entire towns are submerged, and the government has declared a state of emergency. Concerns of disease outbreak and starvation are high. WFP is using airdrops, all-terrain vehicles, helicopters, boats and canoes to reach isolated communities.

Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

September 2019

Three UN agencies warn that 54% of the population is facing crisis levels of food insecurity, including 10,000 people in the "catastrophic" level. The ongoing lean season started early due to record low stocks from the poor 2018 harvest and the delay of seasonal rains. The number of children suffering from acute malnutrition will hit 1.3 million – the highest number recorded since the country gained independence - a 51 percent increase from the projection at the beginning of the year.

Source: Press release Photo: WFP/George Fominyen

October 2018

Fears rise again of another famine in South Sudan, with more than 4 million people severely hungry.

Photo: WFP/George Fominyen

August 2018

South Sudan is declared the most dangerous country for aid workers.

Photo: WFP/Giulio d'Adamo

August 2017

The United Nations announces that 1 million South Sudanese refugees have crossed into Uganda.

Photo: WFP/James Akena

June 2017

Famine declaration is rolled back, thanks to a massive humanitarian response.

February 2017

Famine is declared in two areas of South Sudan, the first since the Horn of Africa crisis in 2011.

Photo: WFP/George Fominyen

August 2015

A peace deal is signed, only to fall apart early the next year.

December 2013

Civil war breaks out in South Sudan, pitting the government against rebels.

Because of the severe situation in South Sudan, the World Food Programme is working to reach 5.2 million people with food assistance. COVID-19 will push the number of people in need up.

Square photograph of Nyagiech Detailed photograph of Nyagiech
Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua


After her home was ransacked, Nyagiech is now able to feed her children.

Detailed photograph of Diko
Photo: WFP


Diko works for WFP everyday to make sure the people of her homeland have what they need to survive.

Detailed photograph of Peter
Photo: WFP/George Fominyen


Seven-year-old Peter Mabor makes toy WFP planes out of mud. The planes deliver vital supplies to hard-to-reach communities.

Meeting the Challenge

WFP uses smart, innovative solutions to feed South Sudanese families across the region. These innovations include airdrops, all-terrain vehicles, river barges, and SCOPE registration.

Photo: WFP/Sabine Starke

Airdrops are a critical last resort for families trapped in dangerous and inaccessible areas of South Sudan. These places are cut off from the world by conditions that makes roads impassable. Airdrops allow WFP to reach these areas with emergency food supplies.

Photo: WFP/Hugh Rutherford
All-Terrain Vehicles

All-terrain vehicles, known as SHERPs, deliver lifesaving food to communities in the hardest-to-reach places and most challenging of circumstances. They can cope with the toughest road conditions, overcome obstacles in their way, and even float across water.

River Barges

The Nile river gives WFP access to hungry families that can’t be reached by road. That’s why the humanitarian agency uses river barges to deliver food to towns like Malakal, where hunger has reached emergency levels and people desperately need food assistance.


Blockchain technology enhances WFP’s ability to register and document people who receive food assistance. The SCOPE system helps workers in South Sudan track an individual’s nutrition and health status and identify when a person has recovered and treatment is successful.

But there is more to be done.
7.2 million people
don't know where their next meal is coming from, and
$275 million
is needed to mount an effective response

Help us realize a future beyond emergency assistance where our help is no longer needed.

Let’s build people’s knowledge, skills and resilience. Let’s invest in economic opportunities and sustainable food systems so that all South Sudanese families can get the nutrition they need to reach their full potential.