Alarming reports from South Sudan. Climate change is worsening drought, resulting in severe shortages of food and water. Hundreds of thousands of people urgently need help. Country director Joop Teeuwen of ZOA South Sudan states the situation is dire: “If there is no food aid, people will starve to death.”
South Sudan is struggling with an unprecedented crisis. More than half of the population, approximately 11 million people don’t have enough to eat. In the Jonglei region, in the north-east of the country, the situation is even worse. Sixty percent of the people regularly go to sleep on an empty stomach. In the district of Pibor, where ZOA has been working for many years, famine is imminent.
Floods and conflict
It is not without reason that the Pibor district is on the brink of famine, says Country director Joop Teeuwen. Floods and violence have caused several humanitarian crises in the past two years. As a result, farmers were not able to grow their crops. Broken water pumps could not be repaired. And the health care system deteriorated enormously.
Diseases easily spread when people don’t have access to food, clean water and medical care. Joop sounds gloomy: “The situation in Pibor is getting worse by the day. If there is no food aid, people will starve to death.”
Teeuwen explains further: “If there is no food aid, people who are already weak are not likely to survive. But the lack of food will also weaken people who’re still strong at the moment. And it will affect future generations. We notice that people who are dealing with food insecurity cannot send children to school and have no money for medicines. They are forced into making decisions that are bad in the long term, such as selling tools for food, while they actually need tools for the next harvest season.”
For the long term, ZOA is committed to tools and vegetable seeds, clean drinking water, sanitation and peace building. For now, Joop hopes that massive food aid will get underway to cope with the impending famine. “It is so desperately needed!”
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